It is safe to say that the vast majority of us have taken part in Emotional eating at some point in our lives. Food is medicine, but as with anything, too much of a good thing can be harmful to health. Experts believe that up to 75% of overeating may be due to reasons other than physical hunger. If you want to improve your relationship with food, learn to identify and control emotional eating.
Try to Recognize the Signs of Emotional Eating
1. Notice your cravings. A strong desire for specific dishes is a common symptom of emotional eating. If you’re actually hungry, everything on the menu is likely to sound appealing. When you’re depressed over a recent breakup, ice cream may be the only thing you want to order.
2. Ask yourself if you feel out of control. You may have lost control of your eating habits if you want to make healthier choices but keep backsliding. Be honest with yourself if you resolve to have yogurt for breakfast but wind up stopping off for a bacon sandwich on the way to work.
3. Evaluate your hunger levels. Another danger sign is eating when you already feel full. Slow down and decide if you really need another helping of mashed potatoes.
4. Understand how emotional eating works. Emotional eating occurs when you use food to manage your feelings, rather than to satisfy your hunger. This can trigger guilt and create a cycle where you eat because you feel bad and feel bad because you eat. Positive feelings can also play a role if you associate food with celebrating.
5. Consider your family history. The way you eat may be grounded in patterns that started in childhood. Maybe you were rewarded with a homemade cake when you got good grades.
6. Keep a balanced perspective. It’s okay to take pleasure in food and enjoy sharing it with others. Concerns arise only when emotional eating interferes with your health and well being.
Develop a Healthier Relationship With Food
1. Seek distractions. Engage in productive activities that will take your mind off your stomach. Go for a walk, read a book, or do some housework.
2. Keep a journal. It’s easier to spot patterns when you write down when and why you eat. You may notice that you snack on potato chips when you’re bored, even though you’ve just eaten a full meal. I’m a huge fan of journaling, and of course if you’ve been a regular reader of my blog, you will know this. Check out my post on how to use journaling for deeper self understanding.
3. Control portion sizes. Eliminating all your favorite treats can cause a backlash from deprivation. See if a sliver of pie makes you just as happy as a big slice and savor every bite.
4. Substitute healthy foods. Cravings can be used to benefit you if you reach for nutritious alternatives. Homemade pita triangles dipped in olive oil can replace French fries with ketchup. Indulge in fresh fruit when you want dessert.
5. Avoid temptation. If you find your favorite cookies to be too irresistible, banish them from your pantry. Choose restaurants that specialize in grilled fish if you have trouble declining fried chicken.
6. Develop positive coping techniques. Comfort foods deliver only short-term relief. Find more effective methods for managing daily stress, such as meditation, music or physical exercise. I highly recommend this course from Suzanne Scurlock; Reclaiming Your Body’s Innate Guidance System. One of the key things taught in this course is how your gut holds the key to your security – and how to use its wisdom correctly to know when your next step is the right one.
7. Get adequate sleep. Being chronically tired makes you more vulnerable to overeating. Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. Take a warm bath before bed to raise your body temperature if you have trouble falling asleep.
8. Seek professional help. If you need more help to change the way you eat, talk with an expert. Counseling may clarify the underlying issues you need to address. Nutritionists can advise you on a diet that will work with your individual lifestyle.
9. Reward your good behavior. Reinforce the positive changes you make in your behavior. Set realistic goals and praise yourself when you attain them. Buy yourself something special or visit your favorite museum.
Of course, any diet requires good nutrition and healthy eating, but for most of us, our eating habits are so ruined by our modern lifestyles that we really struggle to make good food choices. No matter how good your intentions may be, when it comes to choosing nutritionally beneficial meals, our minds often get the better of us.
Meditation to Help Improve Eating Habits
Another factor that comes into play when it comes to eating properly is just how much we eat. Eating an unhealthy food here and there would probably do very little harm, but most of us have the issue of not knowing when to stop eating. Over indulging on unhealthy foods, or having second helpings of a moderately healthy food is another pitfall that most people face.
Many people find that the source of their bad eating habits is to do with their emotions. Allowing ourselves to eat more when we are angry or unhappy as a coping mechanism is unhealthy for our bodies and does nothing for our emotional health in the long run.
Another very helpful course that I recommend is by Eileen McKusick; Your Electric Body. In this course you learn how emotional issues, such as depression and bipolar disorder, can be viewed as a resonance imbalance instead of a chemical imbalance. You can see how this ties right in with healing emotional eating habits, and how something as simple as a tuning fork can help you find and achieve balance.
Eating should be done when we are hungry but many people eat for other reasons such as making themselves feel better or to soothe feelings of sadness or anger.
How to Change Your Perception Of Food
To break the cycle when it comes to eating, it is important to change the way that we perceive food. One of the best ways to re-train the brain to think more healthily about eating is to use meditation. This is especially important in breaking down the mind’s relationship with junk food.
These foods are high in sugar and are incredibly addictive, but our bodies think that these foods make us feel good.
Try Meditation to Curb Emotional Eating
Meditation will help to break down a misconception that most of us developed as children. The feeling that junk food is special and more enjoyable than healthier foods that came about in our childhoods causes us to find a relationship between eating junk food and feeling better.
Meditation gives you the chance to consider how you feel after you’ve eaten junk food and helps you to have a more balanced state of mind. In just a short time, you’ll notice that meditation has started to take away those cravings for unhealthy food. This will allow you to make better decisions such as drinking more water and eating more fruit and vegetables.
As the meditation continues to work, you will feel less stressed and because you’re eating healthily, your body will begin to feel better and healthier. It is recommended that instead of trying to meditate for particularly long amounts of tine, it is more effective to make 3 short meditation sessions per day.
Making Positive Changes That Will Stick
These frequent meditation times will allow you to create positive thoughts throughout the day and this will help you to quickly change your brain’s relationship with food, helping your body and mind to work better together.
The quiet meditation time will give you the chance to listen to your body instead of allowing your mind to be cluttered with the confusion of emotions and hunger.
When you have been meditating to improve your eating habits, you will quickly realize that there are other ways to deal with sadness, anger and stress that are more effective than eating junk food.
When you feel healthier, you’ll feel other knock-on benefits too such as having more energy, being able to sleep better, and feeling more confident.
Because you’ll be carrying less weight, your overall health will be greatly improved and you’ll feel happier overall. You should remember however, that healthy eating requires a certain lifestyle change so try not to stop meditating once you think you’re feeling better or once you’ve reached a goal weight so that you don’t revert back to old habits.
Liberate yourself from emotional eating so you can protect your health and enjoy your food more. These methods will help put you back in control, and have you feeling empowered and comfortable in your own skin.
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