Mindful Diet: Dealing with Emotional Eating Issues

Stress eating occurs when you consume food in response to your feelings, especially when you are not hungry. Stress eating is also known as emotional eating which means that not your body but your emotions dictate when and how much you eat.

Causes: The major population of stress eaters binge when they are sad or confused. For others, eating can be a way of avoiding thinking about problems. The reason people eat when they are stressed is because for most of us, food offers comfort. And the most unfortunate fact is that the least healthy foods usually offer the most comfort.

It would have been okay if we reached for veggies in times of emotional discomfort. But how many people turn to carrot sticks when they're feeling stressed? No one. It's the high-fat, high-calorie foods we love that make us feel better. The more fattening, sweeter or saltier the food, the better we seem to feel.

Signs: So how to find out if you're a stress eater? There are very clear signs that you eat because of emotional difficulty. You are definitely an emotional eater if your answer is yes to any of the following questions:

  • Do you crave specific foods when you're upset?

  • Do you feel the urge to eat in response to outside cues?

  • Do you eat without realizing you're even doing it?

  • Do you feel guilty or ashamed after eating?

  • Do you eat because you feel there's nothing else to do?

  • Does eating make you feel better when you're down?

  • Does eating make you feel better when you are worried about something?

  • Do you eat alone or at odd locations, such as parked in your car outside your own house?

  • Do you feel like eating after an unpleasant experience?

  • Do you eat even if you aren't feeling hungry?

If you eat unusually large quantities of food or you eat until you feel uncomfortable to the point of nausea regularly, then you have a problem with binge eating. You will have to speak to your doctor if you binge eat on a regular basis. But if stress eating is the main problem, you may be able to find a solution right here.

Ways to Stop Stress Eating: There are different ways to control emotional eating and turn your stress into a more positive experience. But all three methods require you to examine and change your habits. So you need to be committed if you want to stop stress eating for good.

Find the Source of Stress: Find out what triggers you. Many people have stress triggers that cause them to eat. Perhaps there are relationship issues, or family or work stress. The moment you identify your triggers, you can take active steps to tackle stress before it gets out of control.Find New Ways to Relieve Stress: Now that you know the causes to eat more, set up healthy systems to avoid eating in those situations. Start meditating or take some time out when you can relax or take a deep breathe. If you think that your own methods is not stopping stress eating, don't be afraid to ask for help. Look out for social workers and psychologists who are trained specifically to deal with emotional eaters and find solutions to curb the habit.

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