I love to get questions from my readers. I’m always happy to help, and if I don’t already know the answer, I’ll figure it out for you. There’s one question I get asked more than any other.
How do I stop emotional eating?
I have a lot of great information about this topic, so I’m going to write a series of posts over the next couple weeks to help you come up with some solutions if emotional eating is a problem for you.
If you’re using a map to get somewhere, it’s only helpful if you know where you’re starting from. The same holds true for figuring out the path to overcome emotional eating.
People eat for many different reasons. The first step in putting a stop to emotional eating is identifying your personal triggers. What situations, places, or feelings make you reach for the comfort of food?
For the next couple weeks I want you to observe your emotions and write things down. Anytime you feel like eating or drinking something that is unhealthy and not planned, stop and think about what might be triggering your craving.
Is it a certain location like on the couch watching TV in the evening? Do you have a friend who always wants to hit the drive through? Do you find yourself wanting to snack during an afternoon slump between lunch and dinner? Does a phone call from your mother send you searching for the nearest bag of Doritos? Or do you turn to a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling lonely?
Keep in mind that while most emotional eating is linked to unpleasant feelings, it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as rewarding yourself for achieving a goal or celebrating a holiday or happy event.
Here are some of my triggers:
- Communication with my ex-husband
- Feeling like I haven’t lived up to someone’s expectations
- Social anxiety
- Fear of doing things outside of my comfort zone
- Mindless snacking while watching TV
- Friday date night (always revolves around food)
- Leaving late for work
Anytime you want to eat food when you’re not physically hungry, it’s an opportunity to learn something.
For now, you don’t necessarily need to make any changes. Just observe and write down the trigger and the emotion you’re feeling. In a few days we’ll talk about ways to handle those triggers. Promise me you won’t skip this discovery part of the process. It’s really helpful and important. You can either track this in a notebook, on a phone app, or click on the image below to download this Emotional Eating Tracker and put it in your Fitness Journal.