Ways to cope with stress - Deepstash

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Emotional Eating: Why It Happens and How to Stop It

Ways to cope with stress

Discovering another way to deal with negative emotions is often the first step toward overcoming emotional eating. This could mean writing in a journal, reading a book, or finding a few minutes to otherwise relax and decompress from the day.

Experiment with a variety of activities to find what works for you.

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Being in Control
Being in Control

To be in control does not mean restraining. A person who is in control should have the capacity and freedom to self-govern.

Rather than fighting with your body, provide it with an autonomous control by allowing all kinds of foods back in your life, yet eating consciously, paying attention to your meals, savoring them fully. Being mindful can maximize your pleasure and minimize your eating.

A Holistic Approach

Accepting that it is ok to make mistakes makes us patient and kind towards ourselves, and keeps us on track with our diet goals, as we understand that our urges to overeat are part of the process.

Instead of obsessing over the 'diet' mentality,  it is better to focus on your behavioral changes and new habits, incorporating certain activities in your routine. The focus should be on a healthy and holistic lifestyle.

Eating to Relieve Emotional Discomfort

Eating can be an emotional activity, with deep connections on how our brains and bodies work. Emotional overeaters are:

  • Having a feeling of resentment after neglecting one's own needs to appease others.
  • Feeling undeserving of their success, with a fear of being shamed.
  • Being a perfectionist and being constantly anxious about the possible mistakes.
  • Suppressing of all negative emotions.

Overeaters tend to have an 'all-or-nothing' approach oscillating between an all-good diet or an outright unhealthy one, depending on the particular underlying emotion.

Start a list of the emotions

Pay attention to your emotions as you start to think about eating (you might feel hungry, or have a craving to eat something). Notice your emotions as you eat, and after as well. 

Keep a few notes — what emotions do you feel, when, and why. What do you feel like eating? 

Pick one emotion to start with

Start with the emotional trigger that occurs most frequently. So if you only have social eating triggers once or twice a week, but you have stress or comfort triggers multiple times a day, choose the latter.

Find a healthy alternative

If the need is a way to cope with stress, you need to find some healthy way of doing that other than eating. If you don’t, then the need will become so strong that you’ll cave and eat.

Awareness Is Key

Emotional eating is sometimes called "mindless eating" because we often don't think about what we're doing and let our unconscious habits or drives take over.

Become aware of why you're eating when you eat. Maintain a food journal. If you have to log what you eat right before you eat it, you may realize you're eating for the wrong reasons, and can then move onto another approach to deal with your feelings.

Find Relaxation Techniques

When you’re under stress, your body is likely producing higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that tends to make people crave sweet and salty food—the stuff that’s generally not good for us. 

Create a simple stress management plan, or find stress relievers that fit with your specific situation.

Cope in Healthy Ways

Many people use food to deal with uncomfortable emotions like anger, frustration, and fear. There are healthier ways to cope with emotions:

  • Talking to a friend.
  • Journaling: When you feel like reaching for unhealthy food, reach for a pen instead.
  • Exercise.