Emotional eating is normal. Many of my clients who come to me for emotional eating often comment that they know what they should be doing but just don’t have the willpower to do it. And that my friend is simply not true! It’s not about willpower at all. My practice is about helping you build your SKILL power to live the healthiest life possible.

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On it’s own, emotional eating is not an issue unless it becomes problematic for the person experiencing it. It could be problematic due to what you are eating. In other words, you are often choosing foods that aren’t healthy for you.

Or the problem may be when you are eating; for example, you’re looking through the fridge for a snack even though you just ate dinner 20 minutes ago. Sometimes the problematic eating has to do with how much you are eating;. You feel that you are eating much larger quantities of food than you should.

Many emotional eaters share the feeling that “food feels out of control”. Here are 3 easy strategies to increase your self awareness around your emotional eating which is the first step to overcoming emotional eating once and for all.

Step 1: Identify the type of hunger

This is a very simple technique to help you become more aware of why you are eating. It uses three categories of hunger. (credit: www.cravingchange.ca)

Stomach Hunger

This is the physical need for food. It’s been five or six hours since you’ve eaten. Your stomach is growling. You are eating for the well-being of your body.

Mouth Hunger

Have you ever stood in front of the fridge or cupboard looking for something to eat with a certain taste, texture or smell? You crave the pleasure of food. This describes mouth hunger.

Heart Hunger

This refers to when you are eating in response to your emotions or how you’re feeling mentally, not physically. Heart hunger can also refered to a learned behaviour around food or eating.

Type of Hunger Technique

For one full day, continue eating as normal but each time you are about to eat something, ask yourself the question, “Is this stomach, mouth or heart hunger?”

Write down what you eat and the time. See if you notice any patterns.

  • Do you experience certain types of hunger at a particular time of day?
  • Day of the week?
  • Week of the month?
  • What type of hunger do you have most often?

Step 2: Eating Triggers Identified

Many times we are eating under the influence of other factors. Creating self awareness around the factors influencing your eating is key. Pay attention and see what triggers listed below prompt your emotional eating.

  • I eat very little during the daytime but am starved at night
  • I rarely plan meals or do regular grocery shopping
  • I usually get less than 7 hours of sleep
  • I ignore my hunger pangs if I’m busy doing something
  • I tell myself that I “deserve” to eat a food
  • I eat more of a food because it tastes good, even if I’m full
  • When I’m tired I tend to snack vs preparing meals

Feel free to add your own too.

Once you’ve identified the situations that trigger your emotional eating episodes, you may want to reach out to a qualified professional for individualized support.

Step 3: Eat consistently throughout the day

Under eating and restricting food during the day can intensify the desire to emotionally eat and diminish your ability to eat food in a way that feels peaceful and pleasurable.

If you find emotional eating happening more often than you’d like, start with eating balanced meals and snacks containing some protein, carbohydrate and fat. I usually suggest that clients aim for 20 grams of protein at a meal, 10 grams of fat and up to 25 grams of carbohydrate. For five easy lunch ideas, click here.

Another factor to consider is allowing yourself to have all foods on a regular basis. This takes away the “last chance to have some” or pedestal quality that you may give sweets and desserts.

Making foods off limits can set you up to emotionally eat when those items are available. And remember to give yourself grace when you catch yourself emotionally eating and acknowledge yourself for having the awareness. Overcoming emotional eating takes practice and often a lot of support.

Conclusion

Emotional eating usually occurs when you eat when you’re tired, depressed, sad, lonely, angry or even just bored. Learning to identify the triggers that make you eat when you’re not actually will help you end emotional eating, once and for all. It takes practice and support is available. To learn more about my upcoming emotional eating and intuitive eating membership, contact me here.

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