Today, I would like to talk about the reasons we turn to food. We look to food when we’re actually hungry, of course, but there are many other reasons. Have you ever reached for a bag of chips when you’re feeling depressed? How about chocolate cake when your life is full of stress? Emotional eating is very common in our society and something we can learn to manage. Here are some ideas.
Recognize Stress Eating
The first step to managing emotional eating is recognizing when you’re eating for a reason other than hunger. Stress, depression, boredom or other emotions can cause you to reach for food. Ask yourself these questions before you grab that next snack:
- When did I last eat? If it has been less than a couple of hours and you already had a full meal, it may not be hunger.
- Do I have physical symptoms? Hunger typically comes on gradually and builds up. When you’re really hungry your stomach growls.
- Would a piece of fruit or some vegetables satisfy my hunger? If not, then you may not truly be hungry. When it’s really hunger, anything will help you feel better. When it’s fulfilling an emotional need, you’re likely craving something specific.
- What is my mood like? If you’re feeling extra sad, bored, stressed, etc. you may be trying to satisfy an emotion, not hunger.
Strategies to Beat Stress Eating
Here are some of my favorite tips to beat stress eating.
- Drink a glass of water and walk away from the pantry or cupboards for at least 20 minutes. You may just be thirsty.
- Do something fun! Calling a friend or playing a game can be not only relaxing, but therapeutic enough to drive away the craving to eat.
- Go for a short walk. Getting the blood flowing and endorphins going can reduce stress and take away your craving for food.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. This means fruits and vegetables in a rainbow of colors, lean protein, fiber-rich foods and complex carbs. Meeting your body’s nutritional needs can reduce stress by providing the vitamins and minerals it needs to help you feel calm and together.
- Work with a wellness coach to address the sources of your stress or emotional eating. A wellness coach will guide you in creating calm, joy and success in every area of your life.
How Can a Wellness Coach Help?
Teaming up with a wellness coach to beat your emotional eating creates a powerful partnership. You’ll have someone educated in dealing with stress eating to teach you more tips and tricks to reach your wellness goals. In sessions with a wellness coach, you’ll have the opportunity to talk through troubling issues or challenges in your life and create strategies to cope with them directly —working to eliminate the root causes of your stress eating.
Together with your coach you’ll set goals, create plans and have regular check-ins on your progress. Weight loss and nutrition isn’t always as simple as saying, “Eat healthier and exercise.” When emotions are at the root of your difficulties, there’s an additional layer to work through.
If you’re looking for strategies to beat your stress-eating, contact me, Karen David. Together we can make a plan to help you take control of your emotions, your diet and your weight.
A nurse for more than 25 years, Karen David is a Certified Wellness Coach and Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist. She brings her passion for well living and calm presence to empower others in health and wellness. Karen is CEO of Live Life Well, LLC.
This article is for informational purposes only. Practices, services or products described are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please speak with a doctor before beginning any new health regimen.