There is a strong connection between your eating habits and mood. There are many factors which bring about changes in the way we eat. Very often it is noticed, that people pile on pounds due to emotional problems. For such people, along with the right exercises, control on comfort eating is needed to lose weight.
What is Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating is an eating disorder like bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. People affected by this disorder don't respond to their natural hunger or fullness signals; they eat in response to boredom, stress, fatigue, tension, anger, loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
Though comfort eating can distract you from the real problem, it has an adverse effect on your health and may cause weight gain. Emotional hunger is different from physical hunger, and there are certain differences between the two.
Emotional hunger will hit you all of a sudden, whereas physical hunger comes on gradually. Emotional hunger needs to be satiated immediately, and it doesn't get satisfied with a full stomach. It triggers a feeling of guilt, powerlessness, and shame. One may crave for specific comfort food, which may lead to mindless eating.
How to Stop it?
The first step to stop comfort eating is to stop and ask yourself whether you are really hungry? If the answer to this question is yes, then wait back and evaluate how hungry you are.
You can evaluate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 means you are extremely hungry and 1 means that you are full. If you want to eat and your hunger level is 4 or less then you need to check your emotions. The other thing is to check when was the last time you had eaten. If it has been more than 3 to 4 hours then it can be a sign of physical hunger.
It is important to evaluate your hunger triggers. You may want to make a note of this for a couple of days, as to what triggers the eating habit. The reason might be stress, childhood habit, emotions, or social influences.
It is recommended that you make a note of what you eat and how you feel so that you can analyze the hunger pattern and the trigger. Once the trigger is identified, the next step is to replace it with healthy eating habits or find ways to distract yourself from it.
Many times, distracting your mind helps in dealing with it. You could play with your pet, you could go for a jog or a swim, watch a movie (without popcorn or chips), listen to music, or maybe even call your friends. This is a simple way to distract your mind off your food craving.
Make sure that you always follow a healthy diet. If the number of calories you take are less as compared to the actual requirement, you will end up nibbling on food. So, make sure to eat at least 4 to 5 times a day. Ensure that there isn't too much of a gap between two meals.
The most important thing is not to skip breakfast, whatever be the reason. Make sure that your food is rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and low on fat for dairy products.
Exercising helps in managing mood swings, stress, and depression. Hence, it is advisable to follow an exercise regimen. Proper rest is also important for the body. If you do not get adequate rest, your body will trigger off emotional hunger cues. Hence, it is important to let your body recover from the daily stress and fatigue.
If you are strong, well rested, and relaxed, then you are better equipped to handle any situation in life. Exercise, good sleep, and healthy lifestyle can surely help you get through these emotional problems.