Are You Guilty Of Emotional Eating? Here’s How To Stop It

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Written by: Anni Bedrossian

Have you ever attacked a tub of ice cream after a bad breakup? Practically climbed into a bag of potato chips when feeling lonely or sad? Reached into a large bowl of popcorn when stressed, only to realize you’ve already mindlessly eaten the whole thing?

Then you, my friend, along with millions of others, have experienced emotional eating.  

Where does emotional eating come from? Why does it happen? Why do so many of us choose food to soothe our negative emotions, only to feel worse afterwards, rather than choosing something that would actually work, like going for a walk or taking a yoga class?  Most importantly…  

How do we stop doing it?

People think of emotional eating as a lack of self-control, but in reality, it’s a lot more deep-rooted than that. Some say it even goes all the way back to when we were babies.

Think of it – anytime babies cry, no matter what the reason, more often than not, they are given the bottle, the boob, or some other type of food. As babies, we may have cried because we were uncomfortable, or tired, or in pain, but the response was often the same: our negative emotions were soothed with food. And so the cycle began.

This emotional connection with food was reinforced as we got older when we were rewarded for good behavior with ice cream or chocolate. Or maybe your parents used food rather than emotions to show you love.

My father was definitely guilty of that; rather than emotionally connecting with us through, you know, emotions, he showed us he loved us by cooking large quantities of homemade food. I remember him always trying to convince us to keep eating even when we were full and, if we refused, it would hurt his feelings. Rejecting his food was akin to rejecting his love.

Needless to say, emotional eating is pretty deep-rooted. Here is what to do when you find yourself reaching for that favorite comfort food of yours…

The first step, as with most things you want to overcome, is to be aware when you’re doing it and to identify your triggers.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I eat when I’m actually hungry?
  • Do I eat when I’m stressed? Angry? Sad? Anxious? Lonely?
  • Do I feel powerless around food?

And when you inevitably catch yourself about to emotionally eat, ask yourself this:

  • If I don’t eat that macaroni and cheese right now, what would happen? What would I feel?
  • In other words, what feelings are you trying to avoid – trying to stifle – with food?

Emotional eating is about filling emotional voids rather than physical needs; therefore, you must find alternatives to fill the voids when you experience them.

They say it’s much easier to start doing something new rather than to stop doing something habitual, so rather than stopping the behavior, focus on replacing the behavior.  

Lonely? Call a friend. Sad? Cry it out. Anxious? Dance it off. Bored? Read a book. Stressed? Take a bath. The possibilities are endless. You have to figure out what works best for you.

The point is to start creating new, more positive responses to your emotions, paving the way to a more grounded, healthier and much happier you. Do you have a favorite way to replace the need to “eat your emotions?” Please share with us in the comments below.  

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Anni Bedrossian
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Anni Bedrossian

Anni Bedrossian is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Health Coach and Yoga Teacher. Having healed herself from years of anxiety and insomnia through yoga and sound nutrition, she is a testament to the transformative powers of holistic health and is dedicated to spreading the word to as many people as possible. She believes wholeheartedly that everything we have ever needed or will ever need is within and that deep down we are all superheroes – we all have the power to change our lives!
Anni Bedrossian
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