Many of us have used food to bring temporary comfort to our existing emotions. If you find that your hunger cues are more emotional than physical, break the cycle and strategize. Here are several ways to help you and your family, create positive, long lasting behaviors to replace emotional eating:
- Pack your house with healthy food. Clean your pantry! Rid your home of temptations and keep low-calorie, low-fat foods, such as fresh vegetables, around the house to munch on when needed. Set a good example for your family by enjoying healthier options. Before you go grocery shopping, take a breather, and wait until your emotions are in check.
- Determine your triggers. Self-monitoring is key to identifying triggers for emotional eating. The next time you reach for comfort food, practice Stop. Challenge. Choose. In the moment, determine what emotions you're feeling. Are you scared or lonely? Keep a food diary or written record of your emotions and what, how much, and when you eat to help you correlate moods and food consumption.
- Take a mindful pause when cravings hit. Delay eating for a moment and allow yourself to be fully present. Use this time to check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What cues do you have from your body? Pausing gives you the opportunity to realize you have many choices for handling your feelings.
- Find satisfying alternatives. Once you define your triggers, come up with alternative, healthy behaviors to satisfy your emotions long term. Feeling frustrated? Go for a walk! Bored? Distract yourself by calling a family member and meeting a friend for coffee. Keep the focus on fun and feeling good so that new, healthier habits are easier to adopt.
- Celebrate success! Focus on the positive changes you make, one step at a time. Your small successes lead to bigger victories and you'll get better results with more encouragement! For example, praise yourself when you complete 30 minutes of healthy motion instead of reaching for a snack.
Join me for the Habits of Health call Wednesday, March 1st, if you are an emotional eater - this will be life-changing!