We all know that we need to eat food to survive, but what happens when we eat too much and for the wrong reasons? If you feel that you are subject to emotional eating and you don’t know how to stop, then read on. Understand what triggers emotional eating and learn a few ways to stop it.
The Difference Between Normal and Emotional Eating
We eat food because our body needs the energy and nutrients to keep us alive. The bad news is that many of us eat not only to soothe our stomachs, but our emotions as well. Scientists have explained that we develop cravings during our childhood when our parents give us cookies when we injure ourselves or when we are rewarded with ice cream for getting good grades. The important thing is to differentiate between real hunger and cravings, which seem to appear even when our stomach is full.
What Triggers Emotional Eating?
There are several causes for emotional eating, yet the most important ones are stress, habits and boredom. When we are stressed, our bodies release hormones such as cortisol, which triggers the craving for fat, sweet or salty food. This craving isn’t just related to hormones – it has also been shown that we tend to eat to forger things or when we are sad, and it seems so natural to us all the time, making it very hard to stop.
Boredom is another trigger for emotional eating, as you might not have anything to do and reach for the kitchen cabinets even if you are not hungry. You might also have roaming thoughts and soothe yourself with some snacks when your stomach is actually full.
Habits might also have an important role in emotional eating, as we tend to work according to patterns, such as eating after we come home from work, regardless of the time we last ate or if we are actually hungry.
A Few Ways To Stop Emotional Eating
Once you understand what emotional eating is and what triggers it, you can try to eliminate it by either avoiding the triggers or by re-wiring your brain using some tricks.
A good way to stop emotional eating is to eat slower, as that will enable you to savor the food and concentrate on the process of eating. You won’t just feel the aroma of the food much better, but you will also be more mindful about eating and whether you actually need to eat or not.
You can also build your impulse control through practice. Whenever you feel like eating when you don’t need to, tell yourself to stop. You can also cool off cravings by trying to think of something else when imagining foods, such as thinking of whipped cream as shaving cream.
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An important study has also found that you can stop emotional eating by using your non-dominant hand, as that breaks the automatic hand-to-mouth process and helps you think about the actual process.
So understand your emotional eating habits and use these techniques and tricks to stop eating when your body doesn’t actually need the extra food.