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  • Writer's pictureCourtney LeVesque

Overcome Emotional Eating Patterns and Repair Your Relationship with Food

Eating out of negative or even positive emotion is a bad habit. Now, I know you don’t need me to show up and talk about the spiral effect that emotional eating can bring because chances are, you’ve done it and felt the guilt, shame, and regret that follows the food binge. What I want to do is help you, myself, and others figure out how to recognize and redirect the cycle of emotional eating.

Maybe this pattern of eating your way through emotions isn’t a sudden change stemming from the change of schedule, stress, or disruption caused by the pandemic we've all be wading through. Maybe emotional eating is something you’ve been battling for a long time. Perhaps you got into this habit as a kid or after battling tragedy and chronic stress in your life.

Without giving a specific name to the trigger that causes “emotional eating,” it’s important to acknowledge that happiness, as well as stress, can be the root of binging. Food has been tied to socializing, celebration, and feeling for hundreds of years.

Let’s talk about some ways you can learn to recognize and redirect your emotional eating patterns.

Finding alternative and preferably healthy ways of dealing with stress is vital. Whether you are a part of an accountability group, therapy sessions, workout regime, or finding your balance of “you time,” having something to turn to instead of binging in the kitchen is a must.

Naturally, I want you to evaluate your life, lifestyle, and stressors and identify something you can bring back into your life or focus on when those desires for emotional eating are triggered. If you have a hard time finding what that is, reach out and talk to someone about it. Often our closest friends and loved ones can help with this process.

Second, it’s time to learn how to identify the triggers that lead you to this rollercoaster. If you know that specific days of the week are heavier or more stress-inducing than others, be aware of that as the day approaches. If you know that social situations or gatherings spark this in you, then plan - healthy snacks and staying present can help.

Third, I want you to let down the walls and tap into your ultimate authentic and brutally honest self so you can dive into understanding the difference between hunger and emotional eating. If you stay stuck in the justification or guilt phase of binging, then pulling yourself out of this habit will be incredibly difficult.

Here are some ways to evaluate if you are truly hungry or emotionally charged for food:
  1. Are you physically hungry?

Check in to see if the hunger is mental or physical.

  1. When was the last time you ate?

Was the last time you ate 2-3 hours ago, longer or shorter?

  1. Do you have physical signs of hunger?

Do you feel foggy, low energy, or hear your stomach rumbling?

  1. Are you craving real food, or sugar, salty foods, or junk food?

The kind of food that you desire can be a sign of physical vs. emotional triggers.

Making a habit of checking in with yourself before you indulge can help you become more aware of your food choices. Ultimately, overcoming emotional eating will be a combination of these check-ins and staying present when eating.

Just do yourself this one solid, hold onto the knowledge that you can break this cycle, and extend yourself some grace when you slip up. Emotional eating can be one of the most challenging habits to break - but it CAN be done!

Do you want help understanding your nutritional habits or desire a healthy relationship with food but don't know where to start? We're happy to help, submit a contact form for a consultation or check out The Nutrition Shop to access your personal nutrition coach.

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