Are you ready to move past your emotional eating challenges and on to a healthier lifestyle of smart food choices, regular exercise, better fitting clothes, and a lower readout on the scale? Are you ready to be seen in a cute new pair of shorts this summer?
One of the biggest struggles that dieters face is finding a way to get those sugar and carb cravings under control. The cravings result from stress, emotional triggers, and the need to eat emotionally as a means of getting rid of those bad feelings and replacing them with a flood of feel-good chemicals.
Examples of Emotional Triggers
Here’s why emotional eating can be such an issue for some people. It may seem like your problems temporarily disappear when you eat the wrong foods as a way to cope with problems or as an answer to your emotional challenges. But what’s really happening is that each time you emotionally eat, you’re one step closer to creating health issues for yourself down the road. Not to mention being thrown off track with your weight loss goals.
One of the most effective ways of getting emotional eating under control is to be proactive about the situation. If you know what situations are bound to throw you off emotionally by creating stress that you then have to deal with, you will be better able to ward off those cravings in advance.
Here’s a list of potential scenarios.
Emotional eating situation 1: Rush hour
Do you commute to and from work? Maybe your morning is a mad rush to get out the door. Or perhaps you ride public transportation home from work after a long, stressful day. After dealing with a barrage of stressors, how likely are you to eat when you arrive at your destination emotionally? Probably pretty likely.
One smart solution for this is to plan and pack a snack or two that you can take along with you for your journey to and from the office. It could be a snack bag of trail mix, some canned peanuts, or something else that you know will satisfy you during this difficult portion of your day.
Emotional eating situation 2: Out and about with the kids
You’ve just spent 2 hours in the library trying to pry your children out from under the tables where people were hoping to read in peace. Someone threw a tantrum on the way home. Then you decided it would be a good idea to have them burn off energy at the park. The trouble is, mom didn’t get a chance to exercise, so your stress has been mounting, and it’s close to 5 pm: another emotional trigger is going to set up. So, is a trip to the drive-thru in order?
The best way to stop yourself from careening for the nearest McDonald’s after an exhausting afternoon shuttling the kids around is to have a healthy dinner ready and waiting when you arrive home. It will take a bit of planning in advance, but some chicken breasts in the crockpot, a fresh salad, and a side of whole-grain rice will definitely be a nutritious way to end your busy day of parenting. Best of all, you can face the emotional eating monster head-on before she rears her ugly head.
Emotional eating situation 3: Late for a night out
One of the easiest ways to totally derail your dieting effort is to plan for a nice night out at a friend’s home or a restaurant, but you end up getting delayed for whatever reason and show up starving. It could be that you purposely didn’t eat but then enjoyed a few glasses of wine past your normal dinner hour. Whatever the situation, delaying meals spells trouble for the emotional eater. You’re veering into Hangry Mode, and that giant plate of pasta beckons enticingly.
The trick for dealing with this understandable scenario is to make sure to fuel up on a healthy appetizer before leaving the house. It could be a few whole-grain crackers with cheese or carrot sticks and hummus. Just give yourself enough of a small, healthy snack to prevent your blood sugar levels from plummeting into the danger zone. This can definitely put a stop to your emotional eating reaction when dinner doesn’t arrive on time.
Emotional eating situation 4: You’re facing disappointment in your weight loss goals.
This could be about not reaching the number that you wanted to on the scale. Or it could be about falling off the wagon once and wanting to give up and then load up on all the wrong foods.
If you are having a problem getting into those smaller-sized pants, or you can’t just get over the hurdle and on to your desired weight, it may help to revisit your daily effort toward weight loss rather than drowning your troubles in emotional eating. You can join a support group, make an appointment with a health coach, or explore your options for finding a new weight loss program that is better suited to your needs.