• Remana Jamal

How to Stop Emotional Eating?

Many people find a way to deal with hard situations by having comfort food. Most of us often look for food for joy, relief from stress, or for self-reward. So we prefer to go for fast food, cookies, and other soothing yet unhealthy foods when we do. Upon feeling sad, you might reach for a scoop of ice cream, order a pizza if you're bored or lonely, or stop by the drive-through after a long day at work. Emotional eating will disrupt your attempts to lose weight. Sometimes it leads to eating more of high-calorie, sweet and unhealthy foods in particular. People who eat emotionally seek for food a couple of times a week to help relieve and soothe stressful emotions. After eating this way they may even feel guilt or shame, resulting in a loop of excess eating and related issues, such as gaining weight. Sugar and fat consumption releases opioids in the brain. Opioids are the compounds that are in cocaine, heroin, and many other narcotics. So the relaxing, soothing effects that you experience when eating ice cream and BBQ potato chips are real. So it may be like quitting a drug habit to break these habits.

What causes emotional eating?

One important emotional eating cause is being bored or having nothing else to do. You'll find yourself switching to food to fill in the gap when you’re bored. Emotional eating often comes from a habit that you've adapted over time. For example, having an ice cream after a long day or baking cookies with your kids. When tired, it's easier to overeat or eat comfort foods, particularly when exhausted from doing a difficult task; this basically means, if you're concerned about an upcoming event, you rely on eating junk food rather than coping with the stressful situation. Overeating can be easy when seeing family members or friends. We all have that friend who invites us to have a pizza after a night out, go out after a bad day for dinner, or as a treat after a good day.

How to stop emotional eating?

1. Manage stress

Some people enjoy the benefits of such practices as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga,

meditation, or spending time in nature. Take some time for yourself. Have a massage, relax in a bubble bath, dance, listen to music, and watch a comedy movie that will make you relax. Conscious breath

ing helps you focus and remove negative energy and stress, rather than hold them in your body. This may help to reduce the symptoms of stress-related disorders and mental health conditions such as anxiety, general stress, depression, and post-traumatic stress. Give yourself a break to relax, recharge, and unwind for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. This is your perfect way to rest from your responsibilities and recharge your batteries.

2. Physical activity

Many people get relief from physical activity. In especially stressful moments a walk or jog around the block or a quickie yoga workout will help. One study showed that emotional eaters who are pretty active could still feel the desire to eat if they're under emotional stress, but they choose healthier foods to deal with this emotional stress. Increasing physical activity in emotional eaters may indeed be an effective therapeutic approach for reducing weight gain caused by emotional eating.

3. Healthy eating

If you feel the desire to eat between meals, just choose a healthy snack that includes fruit, vegetables, nuts, or popcorn. Or try lower-calorie options of your favorite snack to see whether it satisfies your cravings.

4. Food diary

Keeping a record of what you eat can help you recognize causes contributing to emotional eating. Through an app like MyFitnessPal, you can write down notes and record the emotions that you experience at that moment.

Emotional eating is a big challenge that is not related to physical hunger in particular. Few people sometimes cope with it while others may find it affecting their lives, and may also affect their physical and mental well-being. Food may initially help emotion instant relief, but in the long term, it’s important to identify the desires behind hunger. Try to discover better ways to deal with emotional stress, such as meditation, exercise, support from friends, and try to maintain healthy eating habits.


Helpguide.org. 2020. Emotional Eating - Helpguide.Org.

Dohle, S., Hartmann, C., and Keller, C., 2014. Physical activity as a moderator of the association between emotional eating and BMI: Evidence from the Swiss Food Panel. Psychology & Health, 29(9), pp.1062-1080.

Mayo Clinic. 2020. Decrease Stress By Using Your Breath.

Mayo Clinic. 2020. Stress Management Stress Relief.

Medicalnewstoday.com. 2020. Emotional Eating: How To Overcome Stress Eating.

Mayo Clinic. 2020. Tips To Stop Emotional Eating.

Healthline. 2020. Emotional Eating: Why It Happens And How To Stop It.

Harvard Health. 2020. Struggling With Emotional Eating? - Harvard Health.

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