Breaking the Cycle: Overcoming Emotional Eating with Mindful Practices

In today’s modern era, many people struggle with emotional eating. It has become a very common habit and coping mechanism. Emotional eating involves eating food not because of hunger, but due to emotional fluctuations. These emotional triggers may be stress, anxiety or just boredom. 

Now if you are wondering why emotional eating is considered as a problem, then you should know that it leads to weight gain, poor nutrition and an overall negative impact to your body and relationship with food. You eat food because you like it, but if it has become a problem, you feel guilty of eating food which isn’t a good sign. Hence, in this blog, we are going to discuss how you can incorporate mindfulness and healthy nutrition choices in your lifestyle. So let’s learn how to overcome emotional eating with mindful practices and break the cycle of guilt with food.

 Mindfulness and Emotional Eating

It’s important that we discuss mindfulness and emotions. If you are not aware of what mindfulness means, then let’s start from unpacking the basics. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of what you think and feel. To stop emotional eating, mindfulness can help as it can make you more conscious about what triggers you to overeat. Accordingly, you can make the right decisions about what needs to be done and how much you should eat. 

The more you’re conscious, the better decisions you will make for your health. There are multiple mindfulness techniques like meditation, deep breathing etc which can help you to quell food cravings. You can also feel improvement in your mental health issues like stress and anxiety when you perform these activities with proper routine. When these feelings are reduced, your cause for emotional eating is getting eliminated. By being more present and aware of your emotions, you don’t have to use food for coping with your issues, you can find other healthier alternatives that actually help without any side effects.

How to Reduce Emotional Eating with Mindfulness

To be able to deal with emotional eating you must first know what it is and what it isn’t. Emotional eating is eating because of an emotional reason, as opposed to eating because of physical hunger. It’s not about the once-in-a-while treat during a celebration or having some more food during holiday seasons; it represents the situation when eating becomes the main way to cope with emotions. Acknowledging the dissimilarity between emotional hunger and physical hunger is the initial stage in stopping this cycle.

1. Recognize your triggers

The first practice that requires mindfulness is to recognize what exactly causes you to eat when you are not hungry. Is it stress, boredom, fatigue, sadness or something else? Keep a food journal where you don’t just list what you eat but also write down how you feel before and after eating. It can be of help in recognizing patterns and emotional triggers among them. 

 

2. Adopt healthy coping mechanisms

When you are able to identify your triggers, focus on finding better ways to react to them. If stress is the main cause that makes you overeat, you can try yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises instead. If loneliness is the issue, give a friend a call, join a club or volunteer. An important step in stopping emotional eating and thus decelerating the obesity pandemic is replacing unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones.

3. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating helps in being completely conscious of what and how you eat- focusing on the taste, texture, and aroma of the food, reading any thoughts, feelings or sensations during the meal. It helps you to gradually enjoy what you are eating and identify when it is enough and also how quickly you are eating. The following are ways on how to start: 

  • Eat at a slow pace without distractions.
  • Acknowledge the difference of what your body requires and what you feel like to distress.

4. Embrace Your Feelings 

One reason why emotional eating is still prevalent is the unacceptance or incapability of dealing with unpleasant feelings. Mindfulness could be a way to stop impulsive eating caused by negative emotions and instead it’s important to know how to deal with discomfiting emotions without acting on them. Meditation as well as breathing exercises can increase your emotional resilience so that you are able to feel your emotions without judging them

5. Forgive Yourself

Stopping the round of emotional eating is not about being perfect, it is about making progress. If you make a mistake, forgive yourself. Negative self-talk may as well support emotional eating so show self-kindness. Remember that every meal that you take is another chance to live mindfully.

 

6. If You Need it, Ask for Professional Help 

Sometimes what lies behind your emotional eating habits is something that goes beyond what mindfulness can provide help with. Therapists who are trained specifically in cognitive behavioral therapy or eating disorders will give you strategies and support that are very well tailored to your needs.

7. Be a Member of a Support Group 

Sharing with others in similar situations will give you that push, increase your responsibility level and provide you with new coping strategies. Support groups can be invaluable whether they are online or in person.

Conclusion

Emotional eating can only be stopped by self-searching and mindfulness. If you can identify your triggers, practice mindful eating, let your emotions be, and get support when need be, you will be able to have a better relationship with food and gradually transform your eating habits. Keep in mind that the purpose is not to achieve perfection but to progressively adopt healthier alternatives.

 

 

 

 

Vishal Bisht

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