Emotional eating can also be described as problematic eating. How to easily stop cravings or emotional eating is an important step in the process of ending your emotional eating struggles. But a lot of my clients struggle to define what emotional eating even means and that’s where self awareness comes in. 

If you’re eating mindlessly throughout the day it will be hard to identify any triggers for emotional eating and if you’re even experiencing it. 

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL EATING?

Emotional eating means that you’re eating for reasons other than hunger. In my program we also refer to it as any eating that feels problematic for you. That means it could be that you have a problem with: 

WHAT you are eating: you are often choosing foods that aren’t healthy for you. 

WHEN you are eating: you’re looking through the fridge for a snack even though you just ate dinner 20 minutes ago. 

HOW MUCH you are eating: you feel that you are eating much larger quantities of food than you should. 

SELF AWARENESS TO HELP CONTROL CRAVINGS

Many of us live in fast forward, swiftly moving from one task onto the next and eating can often become another task to complete or distraction from the busyness of life. To understand how eating is problematic or emotional for you it’s first important to increase your awareness of your eating behaviours. Tracking your food intake for a few days can be helpful here, similar to how I discuss tracking in my signs and symptoms blog post

Emotional Eating – Type of Hunger

A simple exercise to start the process of having more awareness around your eating is to stop before eating and simply identify the type of hunger that you are experiencing. 

There are 3 main types of hunger: 

Stomach Hunger 

In this case – it’s been a few hours since you’ve eaten and you feel real physical symptoms – light headness, stomach growling, irritation etc. This is when we want to fuel our body.  

Mouth Hunger

This describes more of a craving for food. You’re infront of the fridge or cupboard  looking for something with a certain taste or texture. “Where are those salty, crunchy crackers? No, that’s not it, I want creamy…where’s the ice cream…?” 

Heart Hunger

This is eating due to emotions. Feeling bored, happy, sad, lonely etc. It can also represent learned behaviours or habits. I feel sad >> let’s eat some food. How often do we reward kids with food

Identify your type of Hunger Activity 

For the next week, I challenge you to become more aware of WHY you’re eating by identifying the type of hunger you’re experiencing before you eat. Now, don’t make it wrong. the goal here is to just start with identifying it and building on your self awareness. 

Steps Involved to easily stop cravings and emotional eating

Step 1: For the next week every time you go to eat, stop and ask yourself what type of hunger it is. 

Step 2: Simply note it down. No judgement or negative self talk. 

Step 3: At the end of the week go back and see how often it was stomach hunger, mouth hunger or heart hunger. 

Step 4: Notice if it changed over the course of the week (often we change our habits as soon as we are becoming more self aware even if we don’t realise it). 

Step 5: If you need more help identifying your type of hunger book a free call

Control Craving Triggers

Identifying what triggers our emotional eating is the next step. Pay attention to where you are, who you are with or what you are doing when you identify “mouth” or “heart hunger”. For some ideas on potential triggers grab my Ditch the Binge and Gain Control of Your Cravings FREE resource. 

Overcoming emotional eating takes time but it is possible to get back in control of your eating. Self awareness is the first step in this process. Becoming more self aware without judging your food choices or thoughts is key. 

Remember that success in any area of life takes time. 

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