Whether it’s the colder weather, lack of time or life is stressful, these can all cause strong food cravings to strike. Sometimes you may turn to comfort food without even realizing it. For some, there may not even be a reason, it may simply be a way to pass the time.
However, emotional eating can undo all the hard work you’ve been doing on your weight loss journey. Comfort eating usually consists of eating way too much food. Sadly, this food is also typically high in calories and full of sugar, salt, and fat.
The good news is, if you’re someone that is prone to comfort eating, there are steps you can take to regain control of your habits and get back on track with your weight loss journey.
Why do we comfort eat?
We emotionally eat as a way of soothing or suppressing negative emotions. The stresses of daily life as well as major life events can lead to feelings of stress, anger, fear, sadness, and loneliness. When you’re in this state of mind, the smallest thing can trigger these negative emotions to come alive and sabotage your weight loss efforts.
These triggers could include:
- Work stress
- Financial problems
- Health issues
- Relationship conflict
- Family troubles
It can be that in times of emotional stress, some people eat less. However, if you’re in an emotional state you may look to binge eating, or scoffing whatever is convenient, and not even enjoy it.
In actual fact, you can become so wrapped up in the emotions that you reach for a treat to subdue that stress or anger, without even knowing you did it. Food can also act as a great distraction. For example, if you’re struggling with a conflict or worried about an upcoming event, you might focus on comfort eating instead of dealing with the problem at hand.
It doesn’t seem to matter what emotions drove you to overeat, things often end the same way. The comfort the food gives you is completely temporary, then the emotions you were trying to suppress return with the additional guilt you’ll now carry from eating everything in sight.
Not only does this set back your goals, but it can lead to a very unhealthy cycle, for both your physical and mental health. If you leave things the way they are, you’ll become triggered, overeat, beat yourself up about it and feel guilty and then start the whole process again.
Is it worth it, ladies? We think not. Let’s see what you can do to get out of this cycle and back on track.
What can you do?
So, when you feel those negative emotions creeping in threatening to trigger the comfort eating mode, take the following steps to control the cravings.
Document your food
Keep a diary of what you eat, when you eat and how you feel whilst you’re eating, and how hungry you are. As time goes on, you’ll start to notice patterns in your eating which will reveal the connections between your mood and food.
Work on the stress around you
If you find that stress contributes to your comfort eating, work on eliminating as many of these triggers as you can. There are several things you can do to manage stress, including:
- Getting some exercise – even taking a light walk will help improve your mood
- Try yoga or even just a few stretches and deep breaths
- Meditation – the time away from the noise, lights and screens will do you good
- Get plenty of sleep – our bodies need time to rest and recover, this includes our minds. So try and get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night
- Talk to loved ones
- Avoid excessive alcohol or drug usage
- Make time to do things you enjoy – it could be just watching a movie on the couch or reading a new book. Whatever it is, it’s for you, so it matters.
- Speak to a therapist
Are you actually hungry?
Before you go make yourself something to eat, ask yourself “Is this hunger physical or emotional?”. If you ate not that long ago, the chances are you’re not actually hungry. Have a big glass of water and give the craving time to pass.
Fight back against boredom
If you’re not doing anything, it’s likely that you’re not hungry, simply just bored. Instead of snacking, distract yourself and implement healthy behavior; go for a walk, play with your pets, read a book, etc. Whatever the task is, just stay away from the snack cabinet.
Also Read: 10 tips to feel more energized
Get rid of temptations
We all have foods that we love. So, to avoid temptation, don’t keep the foods you usually reach for in your home. Another good point is to not go grocery shopping if you’re feeling stressed or triggered. These emotions will overcome you and you’ll end up filling your cart with the foods you’re trying to avoid.
Choose healthy snacks
Having a snack during the day is completely normal. There may be days where you will just have your meals and that’s it. But, there will be others where you are feeling more hungry. So, if you feel the urge to have a little something between meals, opt for a healthier snack to satisfy your cravings. You could go for snacks such as:
- Fresh fruit
- Veggies with a low-fat dip
- Unbuttered popcorn
Grow your own network
You’re more likely to fall into the emotional eating trap if you don’t have a good circle of people around you. Talk to friends and family as much as possible, or why not consider joining a support group?
Don’t be too restrictive
This is something we see happen all the time on weight loss journeys. When you’re trying to lose weight, you may end up limiting your calories too much, sticking to the same few foods, and not allowing yourself to have any of the foods you love.
We get that you have done this will all good intentions, however, you could be increasing your food cravings. As long as you are eating a well-balanced diet and are satisfied with your meals, the occasional treat of a snack you love can help keep those cravings at bay.
Use setbacks to move forward
If comfort eating does get the better of you, don’t feel guilty and let it destroy your efforts. Instead, acknowledge that it happened and wake up the next day ready to start over. Try your hardest to learn from these experiences and plan how you’re going to stop this from happening again.
Also Read: 10 smart food swaps to start this week
Do your best to focus on the positive changes that you’re making to your life and eating habits. Give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back for making changes and look forward to becoming a better you.
Well, there you have it, ladies. We hope you can take this advice away with you and can make healthy changes to your life so you can stay on track.
Of course, if you’ve tried everything to help yourself and you still can’t seem to control your emotional eating, definitely consider talking to a mental health professional. Going to therapy can help you to understand why it is you overeat and what you can do to cope.
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