Have you ever started to eat a snack with good intentions, only to wonder fifteen minutes later where the whole bag went? If you allow your mind to wander off while you are snacking, you may lose track of what you were doing.
Think about why you are snacking in the first place. Are you bored? Are you upset? Are you maybe just thirsty? People often eat for a lot of emotional reasons that have nothing to do with their body needing food at that time.
In fact, we often make food the focal point of our emotions. For example, a wedding celebration or a birthday party is not complete without people sharing food. Alternatively, during sad times such as after a memorial service, people often offer food as a comfort to their guests.
Emotional eating is very common, however, it is also unhealthy. When people use food as a coping mechanism for stress, it means that they are not learning how to deal with their emotions without a crutch. What if food is not available when you are sad? Would you know how to calm yourself down or make yourself feel better?
Some more healthy options for dealing with your emotions are meditation and exercise. Taking a break to concentrate on your breath or taking some time in the middle of the day to burn off some steam in the gym are healthier ways to cope with your emotions than turning to food. If you decide instead to grab a cookie every time you feel sad, you are taking a shortcut to feeling better without actually dealing with the problem at hand.
Also, once people start to eat unhealthy foods, it is common to make this a pattern. Not only do people eat more than their bodies need, but they also eat unhealthy food more frequently than they should if it is already a part of their routine. This causes people to not only avoid their emotions but to also gain weight in the process which can lead to even stronger emotions.
So what is the key to breaking this habit? The problem is, if you are eating because your emotions are out of whack, you likely aren’t paying attention to if your body is hungry or full. Instead, you are waiting for your feelings to subside. The best way to get over our feelings is to actually let ourselves go through the process of feeling them.
This means that you have to pay attention to what your mind and body are telling you. Stop before you eat to think about why you are about to eat. Are you hungry? Or is something else going on that is making you reach for a snack?
Another way to stop emotional eating is to set a strict schedule for when you can eat during the day. Allow yourself three meals and two snacks each day and stick to specific times to sit down and eat. This will help you turn away food as you’re walking through the kitchen or passing by someone’s desk who is offering candy. Also, make sure that you do actually sit down for your meals and snacks. Do not let yourself graze the kitchen during snack time. Eat consciously.
If you do feel the urge to start emotionally eating, write down your feelings so you can address them head-on rather than suppress them. The main thing to do is to stop and think before you eat and make sure you are eating for the right reasons. If you are not, try to find a different way to cope with whatever is going on in your life.
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