Don’t let your emotions trigger bad food habits
Maybe you stand at the freezer, steaming over a fight with a family member searching for ice cream to cool your emotions. Or sit on the couch and mindlessly munch through a whole bag of chips after a stressful day.
This is emotional eating. You might have heard it called “stress eating,” Many negative emotions including anger, sadness, and stress can trigger bad eating habits,
Here’s The Problem:
The feel good foods we reach for can actually make you feel worse. Fortunately, there are strategies to help make sure your emotions don’t turn into diet damage in the long term.
I have made a decision this year to work on emotional eating. Not as a new year resolution. But as a goal. I started by writing down simple goals for a month at a time. That way it doesn’t seem so long and drawn out,
I sat down and made a list of goals for this month. My goal for this month is to:
Week 1. Get down to the root cause. While a bad day or a fight with a friend or family member are short-term issues. Emotional eating can stem from bigger issues.
I’ve been reading, and what I’ve found out is that is if chronic stress, long-term anger, depression and other concerns lead to emotional eating, it may benefit me to join a stress management class (whether online or in person) or there are exercises and other techniques that can help. Ultimately nothing can be solved if we don’t know the root cause of any issue you have in life.
Week 2. Ask Why You’re Eating. When I walk to the refrigerator, pantry, or vending machine, pause and ask myself a simple question: “Am I really hungry?”
I’m going to try and rate my hunger on a scale from 1-5, with one being I’m not hungry at all, and five being I’m so hungry that I would eat the food I hate most in the world. (mine would be Tuna Fish).
It’s too easy to just dive into mindless eating, but by asking myself this question, I at least would begin to recognize my motivation behind eating.
If my hunger clock is at a level three or four, I’m going to try eating a healthy balanced snack, instead of reaching for chips or a candy bar. If my physical hunger is lower than that. I will reach for a cup of coffee or a herbal tea,or try going for a walk.
Week 3. Swap Out My Worst Snacks. If I don’t have a pack of mini donuts or a candy bar, I can’t eat them. Eating processed snacks can actually raise levels of the stress hormone cortisol. I’m going to switch sweets treats, with a small bag of popcorn or something that have whole grains, these will boost my immune system and have fewer calories.
Stress eating, anger or sadness can trigger my sweet tooth. So I’ll work on remembering that a sugar high comes a low, which can lead to increased cravings for sugar later,
An alternative for sweet, high calorie foods could be fruit. Actually studies show that having easy access to fruits and veggies when they are easily available,
Week 4. Choose Foods That Fight Stress. Many people drink tea in emotional situations because the steam is smoothing. Tea also has helpful antioxidants. And Green, matcha, or white tea contains an amino acid called L- theanine that may help reduce stress levels.
I have habit of eating late at night, maybe because I’m not a very good sleeper and I get stressed about it, so I hit the refrigerator. But I’ve learned that dark sweet cherries, as not only a sweet treat, they also help increase natural levels of melatonin to help you sleep. Guess what I’m buying on my next trip to the grocery store.
Here’s a list of a few foods I’ve read that help in maintaining a healthy mind:
- Dark Chocolate – at least 72% cacao
- Whole grains
The key is stocking up on foods that help with stress or emotions, and avoiding processed junk that might make us feel worse after we eat it.
This is my goal for the next month. I’m hoping I can improve my health.