Ways To Recognize And Better Manage Emotional Eating

Disclaimer - The post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.

Have you ever had an disagreement with someone, then headed over to a café for a donut or something to help make you feel better? When we experience an upset, it’s only natural to want to feel better emotionally. But sometimes, we eat to feel better in a certain situation rather than due to our physical appetite or need for food.

Emotional eating can be defined as overeating food to help deal with the experience of negative emotions. Please don’t hesitate to seek help if you feel overwhelmed by your relationship with food. An emotional eating therapist can help you if you wish to improve your relationship to food and reduce certain behaviors related to food. It’s not only okay to seek support, it’s a healthy first step to taking more control of your mental health.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at emotional eating and some ways to better manage our emotions.

What Is Emotional Eating?

First of all, it’s important to understand that emotional eating is different from eating as a result of feeling physical hunger pangs. Emotional eating is defined as overeating as a coping mechanism to deal with negative emotions. There are different dimensions to emotional eating and different ways people can engage in using food to satisfy their needs emotionally.

For some people that can look like stress eating, where they grab food to help comfort them in stressful situations. There are also those who have patterns around eating when they feel bored. For boredom eaters, they may look at food as a form of entertainment. For others, food becomes tied to a system of rewards. This can derail someone into looking at food as a form of recognition for their accomplishments, instead of enjoying the self-esteem boost that can accompany a life achievement.

No matter what the root cause behind someone seeking food as a coping mechanism, there are steps that can be taken to break unwanted patterns of emotional eating. There are real steps almost anyone can take who is questioning their relationship with food.

Take A Moment To See Whether You’re Experiencing Physical Hunger

A great place to start is by asking yourself, am I really hungry? Take some time to scan your body, preferably with a glass of water on hand. When you take time to stop and listen to whether your body needs nutrition, you’ll have a better sense of whether you’re actually experiencing physical hunger or not.

A good tip here is to remember that being thirsty can often feel a lot like hunger. So grab a glass of water first before deciding whether you’re hungry or not. Even better, make it a point to stay hydrated throughout the day or set up a way to track your water intake.

There are fun water bottles designed to track water intake that can help make it fun thing to do every day. There are also apps that can gently remind throughout the day, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys a friendly reminder.

Set Up Regular Eating Habits To Keep You Healthier

Depriving yourself of food to avoid emotional eating is not the answer. Eat when you’re experiencing physical hunger. Don’t wait until you’re feeling like you’re overly hungry to eat. Responding to your body’s need for food can help us reconnect back to food as nourishment. Setting regular times to eat can be a healthy step.

Eating healthy foods on a regular basis can also help prevent us from reaching for less healthy foods when we’re extremely hungry and are tempted to reach for the first food available. It’s a move that can benefit your overall health, not just help improve your relationship with food.

In Conclusion

We hope there is helpful information here for anyone interested in learning more about emotional eating. Please don’t hesitate to get support for emotional eating or to work on some of the stressful situations that may be causing you to seek out food to alter your mood. There’s help out there, and you don’t have to do it alone.

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