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Mindful Diet: Dealing with Emotional Eating Issues : zen habits

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.

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Mindful Diet: Dealing with Emotional Eating Issues : zen habits

Mindful Diet: Dealing with Emotional Eating Issues : zen habits

https://zenhabits.net/emotional-eating-issues/

zenhabits.net

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Key Ideas

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.

Pay close attention

If you’re focusing on stress, pay close attention to it. Try to notice every time it comes up. You might want some kind of visual reminder placed where you’ll see it when you get stressed (at your desk or in the car, for example, if those are places you commonly get stressed).

Use your new coping technique

If the technique is going for a walk when you get stressed, then every time you notice the trigger, go for a walk, even if it’s just for 1-2 minutes. 

If you strongly want to eat, do the new coping technique instead. Breathe. You’ll get through the eating urge.

Call upon social support

Ask friends and people online to support your new change. Report to them daily and ask them to hold you accountable.

Repeat

Do this technique for one emotional trigger for at least a couple weeks, if not a month. 

When you feel you have a handle on it, repeat the technique for another emotional trigger on your list.

Stress

Instead of eating, try some kind of exercise, such as pushups, walking, jogging, weights, or yoga. Try deep breathing or meditating for 2 minutes. Try massaging your shoulders. Drink water.

Boredom

Some healthy ways to deal with boredom is to go for a walk. Find a comfy spot and read a novel. Find friends to play sports with or go for a hike with. Learn to garden or sew. Make tea. Write. Journal. Do yoga. Listen to music.

Reward

Did you put in a hard day’s work? Did you accomplish something great? Don't reward yourself with food. 

Instead, take a nap. Get a massage. Take a bath. Have tea. Allow yourself some down time.

Comfort – sadness, depression, loneliness

We often use food as a way to comfort ourselves. 

Find a friend or loved one to comfort you or give you a hug. Again, tea can be a good choice. Snuggle with a pet. Do yoga or meditate. Call someone. Take a walk in nature. Watch a sunset. Light scented candles and take a bath.

Social

Often we eat as a way to socialize, or because other people we’re socializing are eating. Learn other ways to socialize instead:

Go for a hike, play sports, make healthy food with friends, play music or make art together, or have fruit instead of unhealthy foods. 

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Why food

Negative emotions may lead to a feeling of emptiness or an emotional void. 

Food is believed to be a way to fill that void and create a false feeling of “

Emotional vs. true hunger

Physical hunger

  • It develops slowly over time.
  • You desire a variety of food groups.
  • You feel the sensation of fullness and take it as a cue to stop eating.
  • You have no negative feelings about eating.

Emotional hunger

  • It comes about suddenly or abruptly.
  • You crave only certain foods.
  • You may binge on food and not feel a sensation of fullness.
  • You feel guilt or shame about eating.
Emotional hunger isn’t easily quelled

While filling up could work in the moment, eating because of negative emotions often leaves people feeling more upset than before.

This cycle typically doesn’t end until a person addresses emotional needs head-on.

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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 auto...

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.

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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.

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.

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