10 Helpful Tips To Beat Emotional Eating

10 Helpful Tips To Beat Emotional Eating

Are you one of those people who desperately need the morning coffee to wake up or to start the day? or do you need chocolate or ice cream to feel joy or comfort? The link between diet and mood is well known, but do we really turn to foods that make us feel better for the right reasons? What really affects “emotional eating” and what is the link to excess weight?

We all know that nutrition have an impact on how our day will look like, but the big question is – when do we eat something for our feeling and when do we eat for our body? What we eat is what we feel. It’s not just how we look like; diet directly affects how we feel, and what we feel directly affects what and how much we eat.

Why do we eat?

Usually we tend to think that a bad mood, stress and anxiety cause us to eat more, that we find a cure in eating.

This is true. In fact, if we are honest with ourselves we will find that too many times we approach the refrigerator looking for something to eat, not because our stomach led us to, but because we felt internal “tingling” of something to fill us up.

It has been difficult to know when and how it all started – dealing with stress at work, concerns for the kids or even an unexplained sense of sadness or irritability. This is the reason why so many diets fail – they concentrate on the menu – which is critical but insufficient – and forget the most influential organ on our weight – the brain.

Many times obesity relates to a sense of dissatisfaction, restlessness or emptiness that translate into excess eating and weight gain. This is the meaning behind the phrase “emotional eating”. It is very important to balance the menu, but you cannot neglect the emotional aspect.

Our emotions and soul also need their own food: emotional food that regulates strong emotions that accompany us every day (such as anger, frustration, emptiness, anxiety, sadness), cognitive food that has an impact on the brain.

The two-way influence between nutrition and mental state

This connection, between diet and mental state, has two-way influence: our eating habits have an impact, often significant, on how we feel – if we feel sad, or more stressed, we feel our heart beating fast and possibly anxiety, we will be angry for no reason and become tired and strained more and more.

Some components in food increase or reduce the levels of substances called neurotransmitters, which pass information between nerve cells in the body. Some of these substances (such as serotonin) affect regions of the brain responsible for our mood and level of alertness.

These substances that affect our brain are for example caffeine, chocolate, sweets or any other food that contains high levels of sugar or fat. Thus for example, foods containing caffeine increase the feeling of tension and alertness in the body, can cause a more rapid heartbeat, nervousness, irritability, insomnia and increase anxiety. High-fat foods can increase the sense of tension and anxiety by influencing the levels of dopamine in the body.

Simple-carbohydrate foods and sugar causes a change in serotonin levels. High levels of serotonin help improve mood and induce a sense of relaxation. If so – why not eat a lot of sugar? because after the “high” feeling comes a sharp “low” feeling.

High consumption of sugar accompanied by a sharp fall of blood sugar levels and change in the production of substances in the brain (including serotonin). The possible outcome is sharp changes in mood, lack of energy and more.

Eating simple carbohydrates often feels like a real addiction, with withdrawal syndrome of nervousness and tremor when decreasing the quantity or stopping eating these foods. In such cases you should plan ahead for mental reaction and learn to deal with it in a timely manner.

So how much do we really need to eat?

In general, a healthy diet includes a limit of simple carbohydrates, caffeine, saturated fat and high-sugar foods, and includes foods high in omega-3 (fish, nuts, flaxseed), complex carbohydrates, foods containing fiber and foods containing various vitamins and minerals.

But beyond low-fat, low-calorie or low-in-general, the best way to keep the weight, and probably the most successful one, is to maintain a proper diet combined with exercising, as well as emotional and cognitive work.

You need to understand why you are eating: are you able to eat only one chocolate cube or are you likely to be tempted to eat 2 rows or more? are you eating because you are sad/angry/tense or all of them together?

10 Tips to Help you to Beat Emotional Eating

Controlling our emotional eating is not easy. I guess the main challenge for us is how to properly use our thoughts as not to succumb to the urge of eating bad foods when we are unhappy.

In the endless diet cycle and dealing with excess weight, where it’s not clear what comes first, the chicken or the egg, we need to change our diet in order to change our feeling, and invest in our mental state in order to be successful in maintaining healthy body.

Below you will find few tips to help you control emotional eating. You may not find all of them helpful for you, but give them a try and see what works best for you:

1. Eat what you eat with full awareness – be honest and ask yourself if you’re eating because you are bored, worried, stressed, and if the answer is “yes”, try to find another solution aside from eating, for example, go for a walk, read, meet with a friend, practice yoga, go to a movie, listen to music.

Do something you love, get together with someone you love, and see how all of a sudden your great desire so to eat subsides. If you decided to eat something anyway, don’t do anything else while eating.

Eat with full awareness and enjoy it without guilt feelings. Stopping mindless eating is one of the 10 habits you should stop right now if you want to be healthy. You can read about the rest of them here.

2. Most important, take out of your home all those tempting and unhealthy foods such as cakes and cookies, chips, candies, chocolate and ice cream, and upgrade them to healthier options. You cannot eat a whole package of ice cream straight out of the box if you won’t have ice cream in the freezer, right?

We often buy food “for the children”, “For my husband / wife”, “for guests”, but honestly, who really eats it at the end?

Do yourself (and your loved ones) a favor and don’t put all that stuff at home. If you really must eat something unhealthy, eat a small dose when you are away from home, but don’t let these foods go through the door.

3. Ensure you get a quality sleep – lack of sleep and/or poor sleep can cause disruption of the mechanisms of hunger and satiety in our body resulting in depressed state of mind and increased appetite to sweet foods. It is essential to follow seven to eight hours of quality sleep. You can find here more information about the 23 dangers of sleep deprivation.

4. Drink a lot, preferably water or herbal tea – drinking water contributes to a feeling of satiety and sometimes completely eliminates the desire to binge (most experts recommend an average of 8-10 glasses a day). Water fills the stomach, creating a feeling of fullness.

In addition to this, many times the urge to snack results from a lack of fluids in the body and dehydration, especially in winter when most of us don’t drink enough. If you find it hard to drink plain water, try herbal teas or try these flavored water ideas.

5. Take a gum – the act of chewing a gum can soothe the urge to snack because the mouth is “busy”.

It is important to choose sugar-free products to prevent an increase in blood sugar levels and prevent tooth decay, and your best choice would be stevia based gum. Stevia is a plant based sugar substitute, and you can read about it more in my article about the best sugar substitutes.

6. Cinnamon – add cinnamon stick or cinnamon powder to hot drinks. Cinnamon reduces the desire for sweets and helps to improve the function of insulin in the cells (thus helping to maintain the blood sugar levels). Read more about cinnamon in my previous article how to use cinnamon as a medicine.

7. Add dietary fiber to the menu – soluble fiber (such as psyllium and oat bran) absorb liquids and provide long-term feeling of satiety. Instead of snacking, you can add fiber to plain yogurt, milk (or milk substitute) and even to a hot drink, so you get a nutritious, satisfying and healthy snack. You can find here healthy breakfast oatmeal recipes in 5 minutes.

8. Eat lean proteins that increase the sense of satiety. Eating lean proteins causes a significant increase in the feeling of fullness and stops the endless need to snack.

When you feel the urge to snack, you can take some lean protein rich foods, such as low-fat yogurt or low-fat cheeses, hard boiled egg, a handful of cooked chickpeas, slices of cold meat or chicken. Also read my previous article about 13 surprising sources of protein (meat free).

9. Eat vegetables of all colors – the most recommended snack between meals is washed and cut vegetables that can be taken in a little bag to work or errands. They are healthy and contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, and most importantly almost no sugar.

They contain very few calories and calm the urge to eat carbohydrates. Eating large amounts of vegetables helps us to feel satiated without increasing weight. If you can, eat between meals a hot vegetable soup, which is tasty, comforting and filling. You can add to the soup a tablespoon of oat bran for extra fiber.

You may also like to read my article about 5 reasons why you should eat multiple colored fruits & vegetables.

10. Combine in your menu a small handful of almond and nuts – studies show that almonds and most types of nuts have substances that contribute to the feeling of satiety and reducing appetite.

They are rich in calcium, iron, vitamin E, magnesium, potassium and high quality proteins. All contribute to reducing levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduce the risk of heart disease. Read here more about the amazing health benefits of nuts and seeds.

Instead of eating unhealthy food to improve your mood, you can try these delicious smoothies for breakfast: How to Make 10 Easy Smoothies for Breakfast

Beating emotional eating and cravings is one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.

Healthy and Natural World