By: Krista Mueller, LPC, NCC
Picture this: It’s the weekend. You recently just finished another tough week of work or school. You’re exhausted & feeling drained. To reward yourself for surviving through the week, you go to the pantry & grab your favorite snack or dessert. You sit down with your favorite snack or dessert while you’re watching your favorite show & before you know it, the entire snack is gone.
Self-check: Were you eating because you were experiencing hunger or were you eating because of how you felt emotionally?
If your answer was due to emotions, keep reading!
It is likely that we can all think of a time where we were feeling some type of negative emotion (such as stress, anxiousness, anger, sadness, boredom, etc.) that we wanted to fill & may have done so with food. We overeat & feel that “full” feeling afterwards that is almost comforting, as it gives you some type of pleasure & you forget the negative emotion you were feeling before. Although, that comfort feeling only lasts for so long & then feelings of shame, disappointment, loss of control, & guilt set in, intensifying the negative emotions you were trying to fill.
Emotional overeating can be defined as soothing or suppressing some type of negative emotion by eating more than usual or more than your body needs. This is often done after experiencing a major life event, daily stress, or some other type of challenge. When emotions become intense, we commonly turn to food for comfort. Instead of turning to food, try some of these tips to halt emotional overeating!
Tips to help stop emotional overeating:
- Before giving into the craving, ask yourself to wait 5 minutes. Set a timer & check in with how you’re feeling afterwards
- If you have already begun eating, pause & recognize what you are doing judgement free.
- Identify the emotion you are feeling. Depending on what you are feeling, try these:
- A meditation video
- A mindfulness exercise
- A breathing technique
- Call a loved one
- Go for a walk
- Journal what you are feeling/about your day
- Do something different than what you were doing
- Watch your favorite comedy movie, show, Youtuber, or Tiktoker
- Speak with a professional to learn how to accept your feelings & emotions
Let’s develop a game plan together!
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