If I gain or lose weight, it’s usually because of a stressful event in my life. Experts have estimated up to 75% of eating is derived from emotions, not hunger. The holiday season comes with its own share of stress from family, over-spending and extra commitments. Over the years, I’ve learned to manage it and I’ve made a strategy guide below, which I hope will help you manage emotional eating and get you to a healthier version of yourself!
Strategies for Managing Emotional Eating
- Identify your vulnerable eating times (+ write them down). When you eat unhealthy food (or too much food in general) what time of day is it? What event triggers it? Who triggers it? Consider keeping a food journal for 3 days and track not only what you eat and drink, but qualitative measures such as who you are eating with and how you are feeling before and after the meal.
- Strategize around your vulnerable times. If you struggle with afternoon emotional eating (which happens quite often in an office setting!), pack satiating snacks (nuts, berries, chamomile tea, etc.) so you have an alternative snack to eat or drink when you begin to think about those tempting sugary office treats.
- Remove temptation. Are you a nighttime emotional eater? Do you look through your cupboards in search of potato chips or in the freezer for ice cream? Remove these unhealthy foods from your house. While food shopping, remember: If it’s in your grocery cart, it’s as good as in your mouth!
- Distract yourself from emotional eating. When we emotionally eat, we are usually ingesting too many calories and the foods we pick are empty calories, often processed and sugary so we never feel satiated. Instead of eating, drink herbal tea or find a physical activity to take its place – such as walking the dog, practicing yoga, running or giving a friend or family member a friendly call.
- Eat better the next meal. Did you eat a super indulgent breakfast or 4 slices of deep dish pizza for lunch? That’s OK. Go for a walk and make plans to eat a healthy lunch with a friend who can keep you in check. You don’t have to tell them you ate 3 donuts for breakfast; you simply can suggest eating at a healthy restaurant. Also, consider intermittent fasting – here is a guide for fasting during the holidays.