You might think that is a joke. People joke about it all the time. But for me it really is true. I’m not sure when I became one or what might have triggered it but pretty soon, there I was sneaking through the McDonald’s drive through because I had a bad day.
Not only am I an emotional eater but I’m a secret one. I don’t announce to the world that I’m eating 8 peanut butter cups alone in my office because my job is stressing me out or that I used to prefer going to the store alone so that I could eat a bag of chips I just bought on the way home so no one would see the evidence.
I didn’t even realize that I was an emotional eater until I started a healthier eating regimen. I had a really great first few days. I stuck to the plan perfectly and was already seeing changes. Then, I had a particularly stressful day, and found myself immediately wanting to reach for the junk food. It completely took me by surprise and I had a complete epiphany.
I eat when I’m stressed, sad, cranky, upset and all those other negative emotions.
The best thing about it is that now that I’ve identified this; I can start to fix this. I don’t have to let it define me. I don’t even need to keep doing it. I can make the conscious choice to pay attention to my emotions and how they relate to food.
Here are some things you can do if this resonates with you:
Learn specifically what triggers you to turn to food.
Is it stress? Do you search out food when you are sad? Are there specific people that you binge with regularly?
Find something that you can help you replace that food.
Read a positive affirmation. Meditate or spend some quiet time alone. Listen to an uplifting song. Talk about it with a friend. My favorite one, exercise!
Keep yourself hydrated not only when you are stressed but at all times. More often than not, people mistake thirst for hunger. Keeping a water bottle close by allows you to have something to turn to instead of food.
Special Note: Research has shown people drink more water out of a straw than sipping from a cup or bottle. Find yourself a fun one and get your drink on.
Emotional eating is something that you’ll likely always struggle with but you can find constructive and healthy ways to avoid it. Recognizing that you are doing it is the biggest step! Spend some time really thinking about your feelings and actions next time you find yourself running for the doughnuts when you’re upset.