Breaking the Habit: How to Control Emotional Eating

Most people know that eating healthy and exercising are the keys to losing weight and staying healthy. But what if you have a hard time sticking to a diet or finding the time to work out? Many people, turn to emotional eating to cope with feelings of stress or boredom. Emotional eating can be one of the first things to quickly derail your weight loss goals, but there are steps you can take to overcome this habit and stay on track with your goals.

A picture containing food, person

Why does Emotional Eating happen?

One of the main reasons so many people struggle with emotional eating is that it’s often an unconscious reaction to stress or boredom. When we’re feeling down or stressed, our brain releases a flood of hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel happier and more satisfied. But unfortunately, these hormones can also activate cravings which leads us to seek out high-fat or sugary foods to create more of these feel-good neurotransmitters.

Another reason emotional eating is so common is our human tendency to seek familiarity when feeling stressed or sad. We may look for comfort in the foods we ate growing up or those highly palateable snacks that we ate as kids or teenagers – this aspect of emotional eating can make it difficult to break the habit, even if we want to stick to healthier foods.

A woman eating a slice of pizza

How Can You Overcome Emotional Eating?

While emotional eating can be challenging to break down, there are some simple steps you can take to overcome this habit and get back on track with your weight loss goals.

Here’s how you can start to control your emotional eating:

1. Identify What Triggers Your Cravings

The first step to overcoming emotional eating is identifying the triggers that lead to your cravings. 

For example, do you tend to overeat when feeling stressed, sad, or bored? 

Or do certain foods always seem to tempt you when you’re emotional? 

Once you know what triggers your cravings, you can start to work on avoiding those triggers or finding healthier ways to cope with your emotions.

2. Find Alternative Ways to Satisfy Your Cravings

Replace these trigger foods with healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, or whole-grain foods. These foods will help fill you up and give you the nutrients your body needs without the empty calories of processed foods.

3. Learn to Recognize Emotional Hunger

Emotional hunger is different from physical hunger in that it’s not triggered by a need for fuel but rather by a need for comfort or satisfaction. If you’re not sure whether you’re dealing with physical hunger or emotional hunger, try to wait 20 minutes before eating. If you’re still hungry after this time has passed, you’re more likely to experience physical hunger.

4. Practice Mindfulness Meditation

One powerful way to deal with emotional eating is through mindfulness meditation. This practice can help you identify the thoughts and emotions that lead you to crave unhealthy foods and teach you how to let go of your negative thoughts and focus on the present moment instead. You can learn to control your emotional eating and reach your weight loss goals by practising mindfulness.

5. Seek Out Support and Guidance

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help or guidance when you need it. Whether you’re looking for support from friends, family members, or a therapist, some people can help you manage your emotional eating and achieve the weight loss success you deserve. With these tools and strategies in hand, you can break the habit of emotional eating and finally reach your weight loss goals. 5th Element Wellness can help support you on this journey as well.

If you’re struggling to overcome emotional eating, 5th Element Wellness can help. We offer a variety of programs and services that can assist you in reaching your weight loss goals, including nutrition counselling and more.

What is 5EW’s 5-Minute Sit With Discomfort Exercise?

5EW’s 5-Minute Sit With Discomfort Exercise is a mindfulness practice designed to help you overcome negative or uncomfortable emotions that may lead to emotional eating. This exercise involves sitting quietly for 5 minutes and focusing on your breath and body while allowing yourself to experience any feelings of discomfort or negativity without trying to change them.

By practising this exercise regularly, you can learn to accept and let go of your negative emotions, reducing your cravings for unhealthy foods and improving overall wellness.

a woman sitting on a bed while meditating

What Happens When You Sit with Discomfort?

Two things happen when you sit with discomfort:

1. You become more aware of what you’re feeling.

When you focus on your breath and body, you become more aware of your feelings in the present moment and what you need. This can help you distinguish between physical and emotional hunger and identify the emotions that lead you to crave unhealthy foods.

You’ll get a deeper understanding of where the discomfort is coming from, and the 5 minutes you spend sitting with it might be enough to help you figure out what’s bothering you.

2. You might see the whole kind of feeling of discomfort as dispersed.

When you focus on your breath and body, you might find that the feeling starts to dissipate and become less intense. This is because you’re no longer dwelling on the negative thought or emotion causing the discomfort but rather on the present moment. You allowed yourself to sit with discomfort, and in doing so, you might have just found a way to let it go and let the feeling flow through you.

The intensity and duration of the discomfort will vary from person to person, but the goal is to focus on your breath and body and let the feeling be there without trying to change it.

Doing self-regulation when sitting with discomfort can help you learn to manage your emotions and overcome cravings for unhealthy foods, leading to improved wellness and weight loss. 5th Element Wellness can support you on this journey with our programs and services focused on nutrition counselling, mindfulness meditation, and more. Contact us today to get started!

3 Aspects of Self-Regulation

Self-regulation is the ability to control one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. For example, self-regulation is key to overcoming the urge to indulge in unhealthy foods regarding emotional eating. There are three main aspects of self-regulation that can help you manage your emotions and overcome emotional eating:

1. Ability to bring your nervous system so nice slow breathing.

When you’re struggling with emotional eating, breathing can help to calm your body and mind and reduce the intensity of any negative emotions. This is because engaging in slow, deep breathing activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you to relax physically and mentally.

2. Noticing and feeling your body.

Paying attention to your physical sensations can help you to become more aware of how you’re feeling in the present moment. This can help distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger and identify the emotions that lead you to crave unhealthy foods.

3. Opening up your awareness.

When you’re struggling with emotional eating, being aware of your surroundings and focusing on the present moment can help to strengthen your self-regulation skills. This means tuning in to your body, breathing deeply, and observing your thoughts without judgment or trying to change them.

As you strengthen your self-regulation skills, you can learn to accept and let go of your negative emotions, reducing your cravings for unhealthy foods and improving overall wellness.

Conclusion: Control Emotional Eating with a Self-Regulation practice

Emotional eating can sabotage your weight loss goals by causing you to indulge in unhealthy foods. However, there are ways to overcome emotional eating and get back on track with your goals. One way to do this is through self-regulation, which is the ability to control one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.

Self-regulation can help you manage your emotions and overcome emotional eating in three main ways: bringing your nervous system into slow, deep breathing, noticing and feeling your body, and opening up your awareness. As you strengthen your self-regulation skills, you can learn to accept and let go of your negative emotions, reducing your cravings and making a conscious decision about your food choices.

5th Element Wellness can support you on this journey with our programs and services focused on nutrition counselling, mindfulness meditation, and more if you’re struggling with your nutrition or weight-loss goals. Contact us today to get started info@5ew.com.au 

 

Disclaimer:
Information contained on this website is intended as an information resource only and should not be used for diagnosing or treating an eating disorder. This website is not a substitute for expert professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified mental health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or mental disorder.  If you have or suspect you may have an eating disorder, please consult your health care provider.