How To Change Emotional Eating Habits

In this day and age food has become more to us than just nourishment for our bodies. Food has become a passion for some. We are bombarded by food advertisements on tv, billboards, radio, and the internet.

 The food industry spends enormous amounts of money trying to get us to buy and eat more food. People use food in many different ways. Some people use and abuse food for comfort, passion, stress relief, rewards, gifts, and a social activity just to name a few. There is nothing wrong with being passionate about food. The key is keeping food in balance.

How To change emotional eating habits is going to examine :

  • When we eat food as a passion
  • The Pleasure of eating
  • 5 Steps to Change Your mindset about food
  • 10 Habits of Healthy Eaters

When we eat food as a passion

Eating for passion instead of eating for hunger triggers feelings of reward in the brain. This type of eating is referred to as Hedonic hunger or the desire to eat for pleasure.

The reward signals promote individuals to overeat even when they feel full and their body has taken in the required daily amount of nutrients they need. This type of activity can result in conditions such as obesity and eating disorders.

Some people view food as a friend, a treat, or a reward rather than needed fuel for the body to function. Food can take on a glorified position in your life. The importance of food is blown out of proportion compared to what it is actually meant for. Some people see their relationship with food as the key to happiness.

They place too much importance and emphasis on food. This is where balance comes into play. Food can be an important part of your life to a certain extent. You don’t have to treat the act of eating as just a task to live. It’s ok to enjoy food as a social activity, treat, or reward as long as it is done in moderation and in a healthy manner.

The pleasure of eating

As soon as you put the food in your mouth, chew, and swallow, the experience is over. At that point, the brain takes over and the reward sensations kick in. The key is to enjoy those feelings of reward in moderation and not overindulge. One term that comes to mind when I think moderation and balance is gluttony. Gluttony means to over-indulge or to over-consume food and/or drink.

If we overindulge, we start to think of food as exciting causing pleasurable sensations. This makes food seem fun and special. This behavior can leave us in an emotional state. This emotional state is the point where we understand what is occurring and we use restraint to moderate or we overindulge and become at risk for problems.

If food passion does become a problem, we have to realize how overblown our thinking about food has become. Glorifying food is a belief that we need it to be happy. This is not true. If we take a hard look at our beliefs about food and discover the truth, we realize that we do not need to get pleasure from food. We need food for nourishment. We should obtain passion from life and include food within our life’s passion.

5 Steps to Change Your mindset about food

Many regard their relationship with food as one of the love-hate variety. It’s hard to live with, but you definitely can’t live without it.

One issue that plagues thousands of people is food addiction. According to the Food Addiction Institute, the most common food addictions include foods that contain sugar, flour, fats, grains, or salts, or some combination of these ingredients. The most common food addiction behaviors include binging, purging, and volume eating.

Your attitude towards food

Consider your attitude towards food. Do you eat to live or live to eat? If it is the later you have some work to do. While food can be comforting and pleasurable, food should not be looked to as a main source of comfort, pleasure, or reward because at that point eating becomes a problem and food addiction can wreak havoc on your life.

A qualified therapist can help you assess if food addiction is an issue for you and provide you with a treatment plan to overcome this problem. There are also 12-step programs that can help you regain control.

Remember that food is sustenance

You must recognize that your diet is key in supporting your health, and this includes all of your body including the brain. When you only eat junk food, processed food and foods filled with sugar and fat you deprive your body of key nutrients it needs to not only survive but to thrive.

Keep away from quick fix crash diets

It has been shown that people often rebound after being on a strict diet. If it is not something that you can easily integrate into your life, you probably won’t be able to keep it up. It is difficult to stick to one of these highly restricted diets for lengthy periods. Instead, choose to make healthy lifestyle changes that include eating whole real food and pay attention to portion and appetite control.

Treat yourself with compassion

Foster a sense of self- compassion. This can be difficult. Between social media and the mainstream media, the “perfect body” is constantly being pushed on us. Treat yourself with care and understanding. Try not to be hypercritical and pass harsh judgment, doing so will only foster a sense of defeat. Maintaining a healthy attitude about weight is difficult. You will make mistakes and slip up from time to time. Remember, you are looking for progress and not perfection.

Emotional Hunger Versus Physical Hunger

Physical hunger usually comes on gradually and is guilt-free. You get full and it satisfies your need for food. Emotional hunger is a void that can’t be filled with food. In the moment of pain, loneliness, boredom, and stress eating may feel good, but after you will likely experience shame, guilt and powerlessness and the feelings that triggered the emotional eating are still there.

Food is not a healthy or effective coping mechanism for negative emotions, never has been and never will be. Once you recognize and accept this fact, you can learn healthy coping skills for your emotional issues and see food for what it is, sustenance for the body. Healthy coping skills for your negative emotions and problems include talking with a friend, getting into therapy, self-care and healthy activities that promote wellness of your spirit.

Don’t Go To The Store Hungry

Science has proven that when you shop hungry, you make poor food decisions. A study performed in 2013 took 68 people and asked them to avoid eating for 5 hours before the study.

Randomly half of the participants were given a plate of food and instructed to eat enough to no longer feel hungry. The other half of the participants were not. They then asked participants to shop in a simulated online grocery store that offered a mix of lower-calorie foods (fruits, vegetables, chicken breasts) and higher-calorie (candy, salty snacks, red meat) foods. The hungry laboratory participants chose a higher number of higher-calorie products.

In short, you’ll make poor decisions when you’re hungry. Shop on a full stomach.

Practice Mindfulness

To be mindful is to focus your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. Monks train for years to perfect this state of being.

Practice mindfulness while you eat, slow down, and pay full attention to your food to reduce your overall intake of food and calories. How many times have we sat in front of the TV, with a bowl of chips mindlessly munching away? I know I have. If you’re mindful, you will avoid these types of situations and improve your relationship with food for the better.

10 Habits Of Healthy Eaters

There is increasing evidence that what we put into our bodies plays as big a role in the presence or absence of disease than just about anything else. Those who eat healthy simply have a longer life and a better quality of life when compared to those who do not choose to eat healthy. 

One of the more common and harmful dysfunctional eating habits is emotional eating, or emotional overeating. This is something that many people have done in their lives on occasion, and for some it is commonplace and can lead to serious health consequences. 

Emotional eaters typically lack the coping skills necessary to deal with stress, pain, fear, and loneliness and so they use food as a drug. Typically, their diet is far from healthy and depending on how often they use food to cope with life, it can be downright harmful. Many times, emotional eaters do not know what a healthy diet looks like because they are stuck in the vicious cycle of binging when life’s problems becoming too overwhelming.  

What makes a healthy eater? 

It is often a matter of good habits. Here are ten habits of healthy eaters you can adopt as your own:

1. Healthy eaters watch portion sizes. In other words, they know that a portion of steak is just three ounces and a half cup of fruit really means you eat half a cup rather than as much as you want. Monitoring portion sizes helps keep bodyweight within normal limits.

2. Healthy eaters have colorful plates. They recognize the value of colorful fruits and vegetables, especially orange, green, yellow, and blue fruits and vegetables. Each offers unique health opportunities and many colorful foods contain helpful antioxidants which scavenge for unhealthy oxygen free radicals in the body.

3. Healthy eaters take their time with their meals. There is about a 20-minute lag time between the time you fill your stomach and brain signals that the body has had enough food. If you eat slowly and mindfully, you can avoid the trap of overeating, indigestion, and weight gain.

4. Healthy eaters recognize the value of small snacks. Our energy level over the course of a given day can be impacted by the highs and lows of our blood sugar. When we incorporate healthy snacks into our diet, we avoid having too many highs and lows in our daily diet and have energy throughout the day.

5. Healthy eaters don’t eat large evening meals. It is far better to have your bigger meal as the noon meal of the day than it is to eat a large meal at 7 pm just before retiring. This allows the body a chance to metabolize a large meal and avoids the trap of eating too much before sleeping—something that can lead to insomnia.

6. Healthy eaters eat with others. Food should be part of a social experience with an exchange of conversation happening while eating. It forces you to eat slower and it puts the meal in perspective as part of a social experience.

7. Healthy eaters focus on unsaturated rather than saturated fats. In other words, they tend to lean toward plant oils when cooking and away from fats and oils that come from animals, including butter and cream. Saturated fats tend to raise cholesterol levels and are not particularly heart healthy.  

8. Healthy eaters have dessert sparingly. While topping off a good meal with a dessert sounds like the right thing to do, it only adds empty calories to your diet and should instead be a rare treat on special occasions. Regular meals should be meals in and of themselves rather than a part of a whole dinner/dessert package. Similarly, those who follow a healthy diet rarely go to fast food restaurants or consume high calorie nutrient poor junk food, like potato chips, donuts, candy, and soda.

9. Healthy eaters eat more fruits and vegetables than they do meat. Meals should contain more fruits, vegetables and whole grains than they do meat products. This means using meat more sparingly as part of a larger vegetable dish rather than grilling up a big slab of meat as the focus of the meal.

10. Healthy eaters choose whole grains. Rather than subsist on white bread and processed rice or pasta, the healthy eater chooses the whole grain variety. Whole grains are especially high in fiber, which helps the bowels move more easily. Foods high in soluble fiber like oats can also reduce cholesterol levels and help with healthy weight management.

Final Thoughts

Emotional eating is a part of life and our culture. For most people, it is fairly innocent, but if it becomes your sole coping mechanism, this can cause major problems. If it does, try a few of the things I recommended and always reach out to a health care provider or clinician. Stay vigilant by staying mindful and enjoy life.

Author: djcgold

Hi, my name is Denise aka 'djcgold' and I'm from the Bahamas. I discovered my passion for digital art and blogging in 2020. As a self-taught artist, I have been using Procreate and AI generators to create unique and beautiful pieces of art. I specialize in digital wall art and phone wallpapers, which can be found on my website. I also have a love for writing and sharing my knowledge and experiences.

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