You’d be wrong to assume that a depressive eater is the only one that fits the bill. Whether you stuff your face when you are nervous, reward yourself with happy meals to celebrate, or starve yourself out of guilt, emotional overeating is a merry-go-round that will make your head spin.
We all do it… you’re having a bad day and the first thing you do when you get home is head to the fridge to look for chocolate. If it’s not chocolate, it’s definitely some salty treats that act as instant pick-me-ups. You could be reading into them as PMS cravings, but if it’s happening around the month, you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands, honey!
Associating food with your highs and lows, losses and gains, and rewards and penalties is unhealthy, and actively contributes to emotional overeating. In the moment, it feels like your only chance of survival lies at the bottom of that ice cream bowl, but, as shortness of breath has you loosening the buckle on your belt, you should know you’ve been eating away your feelings; not your hunger.
Here’s how you can moderate your intake and keep those mood swings in check to have a healthier relationship with food:
Eat This, Not That
If you just have to eat something, make a healthy swap. Choosing dates, a mandarin orange, or raisins will help satisfy your sweet tooth, as well as keep you occupied long enough to get over those troublesome thoughts. Also, eating with the hand you don’t usually eat with (the non-dominant one) will make it harder to feed yourself. You’ll get tired after a while and give up on the idea altogether!
If you feel an emotionally driven binge is on the horizon, fix yourself a soothing cup of tea—preferably black tea. When you’re stressed, there is a spike in your cortisol levels. This hormone is the main cause of your cravings, which lead to weight gain. The key is to curb the production of cortisol, and black tea will help the cause.
Tame The Stress
Let’s be honest, you can never predict a stressful situation. However, what you can do is make the best of one. Try getting in a workout instead of pigging out in front of the tele when you’re feeling moody. Exercise works as a great mood elevator; this makes it the perfect solution to alleviate anxiety by releasing endorphins (happy hormones). Haven’t you ever noticed how just running around the jogging track helps you clear your head? That said, we recommend you try some dance workouts, adventure sports, combat training, or even yoga the next time you’re feeling down and out.
For those who associate celebrations and rewards with food, try fixing yourself an exotic meal instead of ordering out. This way, you can swap the calorie-laden ingredients with healthier alternates, work up an appetite while you cook, and moderate the prep to keep things healthy by using fresh produce.
Making a conscious effort is a start. Being mindful of what you eat will not just help you keep your weight in check, but your mood, too. Isn’t it easier to be unhappy but fit than be sad and fat?