Emotional eating is a leading contributor to weight issues.  When you eat in response to your feelings, not hunger, you are emotional eating.  These feelings may be of depression, boredom, loneliness, stress, or anxiety.  Sometimes this can be a result of relationship problems, or due to poor self-esteem.  Regardless of the feeling involved, emotional eating is a common problem for both men and women.  However, finding solutions can be extremely difficult.  Recognizing emotional eating is a huge first step.

New-york-nutritionistThe first step is to recognize the distinct difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger.  True physical hunger is the feeling you experience in your stomach.  You may have hunger pains or your stomach may be growling.  Emotional hunger stems from your emotions.  The mind will convince you that you are hungry.  Often emotional hunger leads to overeating.  The best plan is to take steps to avoid emotional eating.

Identify your emotions and your triggers.

Keep a journal of what you eat and more importantly how you were feeling when you ate.  This will give perspective of why you’re eating.  It will also help to identify what your triggers are.

Get adequate amounts of sleep.

A 2011 study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people who slept for 9 hours ate 300 less calories per day than those who sleep for only 4 hours.

Food can bring comfort.

Foods like chocolate cause a release of endorphins which make you feel good.  Allowing yourself some of these comfort foods in small amounts will help to curtail the cravings.

Keep healthy foods available.

Drink a glass of water before you eat to help identify if your hunger.  Keep healthy snack foods readily available.

Create a Plan

Since emotional eating is a way to avoid your feelings it is essential to find ways to cope.  Perhaps doing something you enjoy, a hobby, or even stopping to take some deep breaths.  Having a plan of what you will do when these emotions are triggered will make it easier to combat them.

Ultimately, you need to deal with the underlying emotions.  Try writing in a journal, volunteer, or talk to someone close to you about your feelings.  Consider seeking medical help, especially if you have a family history, or if you have been struggling with these emotions for a long time.

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