Food is fuel, sustenance and comfort. But it’s easy to overdo it and lose track of how much we eat. Often, we turn to food because we’re stressed, sad or bored. With weight gain and lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and hypertension on the rise, it’s imperative that we get a handle on our diet choices.

Eating certain foods triggers of a sequence of chemical changes in your body. It all starts when you’re stressed: your body is flooded with cortisol, which in turn induces cravings for carbs, sugary and fatty foods. Eating also acts as a distraction, because it means you can avoid dealing with the cause of the stress. Convenience is another factor that dictates our food choices, which is why fast food and vending machine snacks are the biggest culprits when it comes to emotional eating. Are you an emotional eater? Here’s how to spot the signs, and fix it.

Spotting It:

  • You eat even when you’re not physically hungry.
  • You don’t find satisfaction from eating a small amount. You need to feel stuffed in order to stop.
  • You can barely taste what you’re eating, but its compulsive; you have to go on even when you don’t enjoy it.
  • Each time you are upset, you reach for food instead of dealing with the cause. If you’re guilty of any, or all of these, you are an emotional eater.

Stopping It:

  • Scaling Back: Figure out the reason behind your hunger or craving. Try measuring how hungry you are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not hungry and 10 being starving. If you rate yourself as feeling anything less than a 3, find another task to occupy yourself. If it’s between 5 and 7, tell yourself you will eat a short while later, and if your hunger is touching the 8 to 10 mark, only then should you eat.
  • Filling The Gap: Opt for something to keep your mouth and hands busy, such as sugarless black tea or air popped corn, veggie sticks or rice cakes, which will occupy your mind and soothe cravings to an extent.
  • Shifting The Attention: Stress can be eased with more than just food; self-massage and meditation are two options. Self-massage could mean giving yourself a foot-rub or neck-rub for a couple of minutes. Meditation could mean focusing on your breath or doing some positive visualization.
  • Asking For Help: Each time you feel tempted to eat something even when you’re not hungry, call in the troops. Designate a friend or a co-worker who will talk you out of the temptation. If your emotional eating is getting out of control, enlist the services of a counselor.

There shouldn’t be any guilt attached to the act of eating. Food can be a wonderful source of nutrition and vitality. Learn to enjoy yourself in a healthful way and respect your body’s needs.

Read More:
What Is Mindful Eating?
Chi-Tox: Eating According To Traditional Chinese Medicine

Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.