Food and emotions affect people differently. For example, some of us when bored, lonely or under stress cannot eat. On the other hand, others experiencing that same thing may find themselves mindlessly eating more due to emotional overeating–and usually not what’s good for them. If you’re one that reacts to such obstacles in your life with food, then you are not alone. Half of my own family, including yours truly, have been known to find temporary comfort in ice cream, cakes, pies, and too many cookies when problems occur while the rest need coaxed to eat anything because they lose their appetites. Instead of letting those emotions get the better of us, I have some suggestions that may help keep you from falling into this emotional overeating trap.
When the first thing you do when faced with a difficult siuation is to head to the freezer for ice cream or raid the refrigerator for something rich and loaded with calories that you’ll eventually regret eating later don’t deny yourself what you’re craving. My advice to prevent emotional overeating is to eat what you’re hungry for, only a moderate size serving. Though a treat or that snack piles on extra calories, denying yourself what your mind has its heart set on will only make you want to eat that wrong choice of food more.
However, the next time you feel that urge for more ice cream or whatever your trigger food is, ask yourself if you’re really eating just to keep from thinking of that issue or because you’re truly hungry? A wiser course of action is waiting about 10 minutes to see if that empty feeling passes. Be honest with yourself. Eating does take your mind off of things while giving the hands and mouth something to do.
What I like to do when this happens is to become immersed into another activity, which will take me away from the kitchen or pantry that it will take some effort to return. If you still feel hungry after that time, allow yourself a smaller portion and no more of that particular trigger food.
You can try filling a large 8-ounce glass of water and sipping on it instead. Wait about 10 or 15 minutes. You might find that the initial strong call to that cake in the refrigerator has been suddenly silenced. You may still want something to eat, but that dessert may not have the same appeal. Don’t be surprised if you want some real food with nutritional value like a piece of fruit this time.
On the other hand, when nothing else but that trigger food will suffice, then your craving is in control. Going outdoors for a short walk or doing a chore in another part of the house or your office can help make it move you away from temptation. The reason physical activity helps is because it produces new chemicals in the brain that seems to work on that stress, sadness, or boredom due to the release of happy endorphins. Of course, those endorphins aren’t going to make the reason for emotional overeating go away, but you will be surprised because it does seem to help give you a better handle on things.