Emotional Eating: The Enemy of Weight Loss Diet Plans

Man eating in front of a refrigeratorAnyone who’s ever gone on a diet (or attempted to go on one) knows the pitfalls of stress eating.

Stress eating happens when you use food as a coping mechanism to life’s stressors. You eat to make yourself feel better, instead of when you’re hungry. It isn’t limited only to compulsive eating when you’re stressed either. Sadness, exhaustion, and boredom can trigger the coping mechanism, too. In fact, “emotional eating” is a more accurate term for it.

MD Diet, a Salt Lake-based weight loss and nutrition clinic, says that learning about binge eating and cravings helps in changing bad eating habits and properly following a weight loss diet plan.

Signs of Stress Eating

“Emotional hunger” can be more powerful than physical hunger. It often comes suddenly and feels overwhelming. In contrast, the need to eat comes gradually. So, unless you’ve actually starved yourself, physical hunger won’t feel like a craving.

Moreover, you won’t be picky with food when you’re physically hungry. Everything will seem good, even healthy food like vegetables that you wouldn’t normally eat. Emotional hunger is characterized mainly by cravings for salty or sweet junk food for that instant rush of energy. You feel like you won’t be satisfied unless you get a specific type of food.

Emotional eating doesn’t leave you full; it only provides a short emotional relief. Giving in to your cravings often leads to mindless, excessive eating and feelings of guilt after the fact. You don’t immediately realize you’re full when stress eating. But with physical hunger, you instantly feel it when you’ve eaten enough.

Mindful Eating Habits

Observing mindfulness when eating is a way to curb your cravings. The practice involves becoming more aware of how and what you eat.

Making yourself wait helps, even if it’s only for a minute or two (or five minutes if you can). You may be more tempted to eat if you strictly forbid yourself from it, so try stalling yourself. When you do eat, start with smaller portions, put down your utensils in between bites, and chew slowly. Taking time to savor your food also makes it easier to tell when your stomach is full.

Food is a great pick-me-up or reward after a hard day or project. Using it as an emotional crutch, however, leads to unnecessary eating and unsuccessful diets.