Tips To Overcome Emotional Eating

Stress is inevitable, especially when you’re a Mama! Trying to balance kids, family life, the house, the partner, your own health... all of this can get overwhelming. This can often result in stress and emotional eating. This type of eating can halt your weight loss goals and be very disheartening. 

Below are some tips and tricks that may help you during those times where you feel like the only thing that will make you feel better is a packet of Tim Tams.

Track your food to stay accountable 

Either use a diary or an app (such as MyFitnessPal) to track what you eat, when you eat, and how you’re feeling when you eat. This is a great way to see whether you have a pattern that may show how your mood and eating habits are connected. You will be able to see if you’re getting stressed at a certain time of the day, and then you can ensure you have a healthy snack ready for yourself at that time. It can also show you how many little extra bites here and there that you might not notice are adding up. Another positive about keeping a food diary is that it keeps you accountable to yourself so you may be less likely to eat over your daily calorie target.

Determine the difference 

It’s important to differentiate between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Getting to know the differences can help clue you into what you’re experiencing so you can handle the situation accordingly. 

Physical hunger

  • You feel like eating a variety of food groups.
  • You start to feel full and take it as a cue to stop eating.
  • You have no negative feelings about eating.
  • It slowly develops over time.
  • Stomach may be grumbling.

Emotional/Stress hunger

  • It comes about suddenly or abruptly.
  • You crave only certain foods such as Tim Tams.
  • You may binge on these certain foods and don’t feel full.
  • You feel guilt or shame about eating.

Knowing the difference can mean you can either eat (when physically hungry) or use these tips to help avoid emotional eating.

Get the Tims Tams (or other temptations) out of the house

Don't keep hard-to-resist comfort foods in the cupboard. Out of sight, out of mind! Make sure you have things such as berries, yoghurt, diet jelly, low calorie hot chocolate etc in the house ready so if you do succumb to the stress eating cravings you only have healthy choices to munch on.

Use the S.T.O.P technique 

This is one of my favourite techniques as it’s perfect for overcoming emotional eating.

STOP stands for.

S stands for Stop

T stands for Think

O stands for Overview

P stands for Pick!

So I want you to STOP, then THINK.

“What am I doing? Am I just on autopilot? I have choices here”

Then OVERVIEW the situation

“Am I even hungry?”

“How will this affect my goals?”

“How would I feel after I eat it?”

“Is it even worth it?”

“If I was THAT hungry would I eat an apple?" If the answer is no then you aren’t physically hungry - you are mentally hungry!

Then I want you to ask yourself...

“How would I feel if I had some strawberries instead? Or had a green tea?”

Then pick - either to have the cookies and maybe go over your calorie level that day, or to choose a healthier alternative. Even call a friend or take a bath! They say that cravings last 20 minutes, so if you can distract yourself for 20 minutes those cravings should go. My favourite thing to do is to go brush my teeth! Cookies don’t taste so great with a peppermint tasting mouth.

Learn from it

If you succumb to emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next meal or the next day. Don’t wait until Monday - one meal or one afternoon of overeating won’t affect your weight loss but a few days in a row can have an effect. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you're making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that'll lead to better health.

Seek support

Don’t be afraid to talk to your family or friends to help support you. Calling a friend or going for a walk with a family member can help get your mind off it and also help reduce your stress levels. 

If you've tried self-help options but you still can't control stress eating, consider therapy with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you understand why you eat emotionally or get stressed and learn coping skills.

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