Many of us are focusing on our weight loss goals right now, so it is important to recognize that emotional eating (eating triggered by what we are feeling rather than physical hunger) is the biggest threat to successful weight loss. It leads to overeating – particularly foods that are starchy, salty, sugary, and high in fat.
Learn to recognize emotional eating triggers. The easiest way to recognize emotional eating is to ask “am I actually hungry?” every time we eat. If the answer is “no, I’m not really hungry,” then that is a red flag indicating you could be eating for emotional reasons such as stress, frustration, boredom, loneliness, or even love. Keep a journal of what you eat and how you feel at the moment you go to grab a snack; this will help you see which emotions are the biggest triggers for you. Intermountain provides a free downloadable food and feelings journal for your convenience.
What we need to learn is how to cope with emotions without turning to food. To better manage emotional eating, find alternative activities that will help you cope with what you are feeling. Food is a very poor coping mechanism. For example, eating because you are feeling a lot of stress at work will only distract you for a few minutes, but it won’t decrease your level of stress. A better way to cope would be to practice some deep breathing exercises, delegating tasks, or cutting back on the number of commitments you currently have. Make a list of alternative activities you can try the next time an emotion triggers your desire for food.