Stress, fatigue, sadness, depression: these are just a few of the emotions that often contribute to emotional eating. Food and eating have powerful connections to our emotions. We find comfort in food if we wish to keep feelings to ourselves. During celebrations, we reward ourselves with a buffet dinner or that indulgent dessert because we feel we deserve it. We even invite our friends to join us on that rewarding day and influence them to eat more, too. If you are not consciously aware of the role emotions play in your eating habits, you may begin to see the negative consequences in your body.
Emotional eating tends to make us overeat without being mindful of the kinds of foods that we put in our body. It is more than being hungry because the craving doesn’t necessarily come from our stomach. It is often a lack of self-love and self-care.
Meal planning is one way you can get a handle on emotional eating.
Reflect for a few minutes before you eat
Before you head to the kitchen, spend a few minutes reflecting on your physical and emotional state.
Ask yourself if you are physically hungry. If you feel centered emotionally and you are actually physically hungry, then eat.
But if you are feeling extreme emotions, try calling a friend or engaging in another activity for a few minutes—such as exercise, writing, or reading—to see if your “hunger” goes away.
Make a shopping list
Identify the foods your body needs to keep you going through the day. Making a list of what you will buy—and sticking to it—allows you to feel safe but honor the emotions.
Eat an alternative food
If you are fond of eating chips when you feel emotional, why not look for a healthier alternative that is relatively similar to your comfort food? Try making chips out of vegetables like kale, celery, broccoli, and zucchini. Another option is to buy cassava chips online, at Whole Foods or Thrive Market.
Don’t live in deprivation.
Prepare your own food
Preparing your own meal is an excellent way to relieve stress. You can even express your creativity in cooking by customizing some of the ingredients and experimenting with flavors. It is also a healthy way to channel your emotions by giving yourself an activity to enjoy. As you immerse yourself in the process, you may realize that the distraction helped push away any negative feelings you may have been having.
Start your meal planning with your very next meal. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you already have in your kitchen and how you can nourish your soul with healthy eating.
Food doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be an enemy. You can still enjoy eating; just don’t eat to bring you joy. As with any change in lifestyle, start small, and the more often you practice meal planning, the easier and more quickly it will go!
If you need more help with emotional eating, check out these blog posts: 4 Reasons I Have No Forbidden Foods, 5 Simple Strategies for Reframing Your Food Mindset, 9 Signs You Need to Re-Think Your Diet.
Still struggling with knowing how to end emotional eating for good? The BeyondFit 21 Day Food Freedom program was designed with you in mind! It takes just 21 days to develop a better relationship with food and start experiencing the freedom you’ve always wanted. Start today!