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How to Stop Emotional Eating?

Do you qualify as someone who does emotional eating? Do you head for the pantry when you are upset, sad, or happy? It could also be possible that you are not aware of being someone who compensates for emotions with food.

In order to better know yourself, analyse the reasons that compel you to eat. Each time you put food in your mouth, stop and ask yourself: “Why am I eating?” Is it real hunger (gurgling, feeling of emptiness, drops in energy)? Is it a conditioned hunger (for example, you eat because it’s noon)? Or is it a psychological hunger (you have the desire to eat, but are not necessarily hungry)?

If you notice that psychological hunger often torments you, it will be interesting to find out the reasons behind its manifestation.

Two types of emotions are said to make us eat without being hungry: emotions from the heart, and emotions from the head.

Emotions from the heart
Boredom, solitude, sadness, tiredness, need for attention, affection, or love, these are the type of emotions that are said to be “from the heart”. This type of emotions compels us to seek soft, creamy, comforting foods, as if our brains wanted to fill the void with food. The type of food that is sought can be, among others, chocolate, ice cream, pasta, or pizza.

Emotions from the head
Anger, stress, and frustration are some of the typical head emotions, and are said to make us eat to let off steam, as if we were looking to “bite” something in our life. This makes us seek textured or crispy foods, and the individual will be ready to go to the store with the sole purpose of buying said foods. Trail mix, chips, cookies, and cereals are popular examples.

What to do?
Once you have identified the reason why you want to eat, try to reason with yourself. If you need to, write down your thoughts so that you can channel them.

Make a list of activities that you enjoy, such as reading, taking a bath, or a hobby that you like. If you suffer from solitude, consider signing up for activities at your local recreational center, or call someone who is close to you. If you need to let some steam off, consider releasing your negative emotions at the gym, or by taking a long walk.

To dig deeper into the subject, I suggest you read the book Life is Hard, Food is Easy: The 5-Step Plan to Overcome Emotional Eating and Lose Weight on Any Diet, by Linda Spangle, from which I got the inspiration to write this article!

By Marilyne Petitclerc

Marilyne Petitclerc

Holder of a degree in nutrition from Université Laval, Marilyne has worked as a nutritionist for Nautilus Plus since 2010. Passionate about healthy eating and sports nutrition, she also gives lectures and hosts cooking workshops. With her clients, Marilyne makes extensive use of the instinct diet approach and the Mediterranean diet model. Furthermore, she has attended classes on live nutrition at the Hippocrates Health Institute. Maryline ran the Quebec City Marathon des Deux Rives - Half Marathon in 2010 and 2012. She also took part in the Staircase Challenge, another event held in Quebec City in June 2012. Marilyne also plays in an Ultimate Frisbee league and trains regularly at the Nautilus Plus branch where she is employed.

How to Stop Emotional Eating? is a post from I'm taking charge. I'm taking charge is a blog that aims to help people in their journey to fitness through articles on training, nutrition, motivation, exercise and healthy recipes.
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