Let’s talk about how we can manage the stress in our life in order to eat healthy and watch our weight, I know this is something we all deal with these days. There are lots of stresses in our lives. If we are not worrying about ourselves all we need to do is look around us and we can find more than we need.
If you don’t know how to deal with emotional eating, your diet may fail. Emotional eating, also called stress eating, can sabotage your best efforts. But if you can learn to manage stress eating, you’ll set yourself up for both short term weight loss and a life of healthier eating habits. Getting a handle on your tendency to eat in response to emotions can be one of the most important factors in getting the body and the health you deserve.
Are you an “emotional” eater? Sometimes, the desire to eat has nothing to do with a pesky rumbling in your stomach telling you that you need to eat. Occasionally, you might get a strong craving for certain foods, such as fattening, comfort foods. You might also think that these cravings occur during times when you are also experiencing strong emotions. There are certain signs that might can help you identify stress eating. But if you find that you are eating when you are anxious, sad, depressed or worried, it’s likely that you are an emotional eater. It is at times like these that you are also more likely to overeat or mindlessly over-consume calories.
Let’s talk about why emotional hunger happens. For some people, a major life event or change may trigger emotional eating. Foe example, if you get fired or going through divorce you may start to eat to calm stress. But for others, this eating style is a constant struggle. It becomes a habit that you adopt in traffic, or on the way to work, when you’re anxious on the job, or when you’ve had a tough day at the office. your simple daily grind can lead to seemingly unbreakable habits of turning to food to make it all better.
There are also more serious reasons that emotional eating might develop. For example, overeating can become a way of dealing with childhood trauma or abuse. So what happens if you don’t address emotional eating? The worst part about stress eating is that it causes your problems to multiply. Eventually, instead of avoiding the issues you’re stuffing down food, which creates another problem altogether, including weight gain, and poor health. Then the stress-and the eating cycle-starts all over again.
Here are a few points you can use to help control your eating habits.
1. Identify your triggers, keep a food journal and write down what you eat, when and what was happening at the time of your meal or snack. Then use this information to learn why you eat when you’re not hungry.
2. Recognize hunger signals, learn the difference between real signs of hunger and emotional hunger. Once you recognize the clues, it will become easier to act when you see an emotional binge starting.
3. Limit trigger foods, get rid of the foods you’re likely to binge on. Reorganize your refrigerator and pantry for healthy eating and weight loss. Fill your kitchen with healthy snacks and ingredients to create healthy friendly low calorie meals.
4. Create alternatives to eating, if you’ve had a tough day, find healthier ways to relax. If you find that you eat when you are tired, find natural ways to boast your energy, and if you want to celebrate a success, find diet friendly ways to reward yourself without including food.
5. Most of all don’t give up if you slip. It’s hard to stop emotional eating when you trip up, forgive yourself and start over the next day. Learning from your mistakes and focusing on the positive will go along way in ensuring your continued health goals.
For additional information on how to deal with emotional eating, contact Lethia Lee with the Cooperative Extension Office Sampson County at 910-592-7161.
Lethia Lee is the EFNEP Program Assistant for the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Center.