Gaining weight from emotional eating?

Hi , 

Does this cycle feel familiar? How often does it happen?

If you are not sure, lets first assess are you an emotional eater to begin with.

Are you an emotional eater?

  • Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed or anxious?
  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to calm yourself down?
  • Do you reward yourself with food after a major accomplishment?
  • Do you eat mindlessly in the evenings?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

Occasionally using food as a pick-me-up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.

Why do you emotional overeat?

It could be that you are stressed, stuffing your emotions with food, feeling bored, lonely or you just can’t control yourself in social settings.
Whatever it is, trust me it is repetitive. It’s happening over and over again and you are just not seeing it because overeating in these occasions has become a part of your life, like munching bread in the car on the way back from work, eating above the stove or snacking in front of the TV.

What can you do about it?

First thing to do is to keep an emotional eating diary. 
Write down your triggers, what happened before the urge, how you felt while you were eating and once the eating was done.

Once you know you’re triggers the next step is to figure out what can you do instead of eating.

You could obviously do something active like sports or just hang a simple walk.
You could call someone, read a book or try out some new activities.
You can also sit with the feeling and pause. I encourage you to do this one. Don’t run away from what you are feeling. It’s good to have uncomfortable feelings. 

Ask yourself: Can I not eat for the next 5 minutes and sit with my feelings? Just tell yourself to wait. 
While you are waiting assess how you are feeling? If you want to start again, repeat the same 5 minutes exercise.

Even if you have decided to give in, enjoy it! Most people feel so guilty that they tend to eat quickly, mindlessly, not really enjoying the food so they end up with a bloated belly with zero pleasure from the food they ate. Slow down, enjoy the food and let your body tell your that you have had enough. You can’t know if you had enough if you eat fast without thinking and actually chewing the food. There is no reason to run away from food, you are eating it, might as well enjoy it and actually stop for once when you are full.

What do you do to avoid emotional eating? What has worked for you in the past?