Are You Really Hungry? Tips to Help You Avoid Emotional and Social Eating
When you get home from a long day of class or work, it’s easy to turn to the kitchen for relief. Your well-loved container of Talenti Gelato is there to greet you and your favorite bottle of wine is at hand to ease your nerves after a long, grueling day. However, after you down that container of Talenti, something is still there that needs to be addressed — your emotions.
This process of eating away your feelings is known as emotional eating. Emotional eating is a form of self-sabotage that we sometimes unknowingly engage in to satisfy our emotions. It can occur at any time we find ourselves eating for reasons other than to satisfy physical hunger.
When I was working at a job that I was less than happy with, I noticed that I would come home after work to eat whatever I could find to calm down my irritation. Although I knew I wasn’t hungry, I knew that the food tasted better than I felt in that moment. The food was able to provide me with comfort at that time. It didn't matter though, because I went on to feel even worse about myself because deep down, I knew that I didn’t need those five cookies to make me feel better.
My emotional eating went beyond feelings of sadness. I felt the need to eat when celebrating too. If I was out with my friends and everyone was eating, I ate too. In those moments I became a social eater as well. Now I’m not saying it’s wrong to celebrate or enjoy food with friends, but I felt like I had to eat in order to gain a sense of belonging.
The constant emotional and social eating started to sicken my stomach. The food I was consuming sat on my stomach for days. At that point, I knew I had to heal my relationship with food. I was living to eat instead of eating to live.
Companies do such a great job at establishing a connection between food and emotion. Think about the commercials, advertisements, and even TV networks that are dedicated to eating and enjoying food. While it’s great to commune over food and drink, it’s important that we are eating to actually nourish our bodies instead of our feelings and emotions. Here are some tips to help you avoid emotional and social eating.
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Know the difference between emotional and physical hunger.
It’s important to learn how to take an intuitive approach towards food. Before you consume anything ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry?” Take a moment to really listen to your body. Is your body signaling that you are hungry? Does your stomach feel empty? Do you have a hunger headache? Do you feel lethargic? These are some of the signs that your body needs to be refueled.
Identify your triggers.
It’s important to know what causes you to emotionally and socially eat. The key to overcoming emotional eating is to deal with the emotion that’s causing it. Once you've addressed the emotion, brainstorm other activities that you can do instead of defaulting to eat. Call a friend. Get outside and take a walk. Pray that the Holy Spirit will help you have self-control. Prepare a list of activities that you can do to avoid emotional and social eating.
Eating mindfully is "eating with intention and attention.” Eat mindfully by focusing on how you are feeling when you are eating. Take a few moments before your meal and give thanks to God for His provision in your life. Eliminate the distractions and eat slowly, savoring each bite.
How do you avoid emotional eating? Let me know in the comments below.