A number of approaches, used in combination, can end emotional eating. Here's the heavy artillery in the battle with emotional eating.
*If comfort foods (any foods that are processed and contain fat, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, simple carbs, and lots of salt) are kept out of your fridge and cupboards, you have a solid chance to overcome emotional eating. It is comfort foods that turn on addictive endorphins that temporarily block anxiety, down feelings, loneliness, self-criticism, and tension. Comfort foods, with their addictive qualities, need to be kept out of the house the way alcohol should be kept out of an alcoholic's house. Think of salty foods, processed foods, sugar and high fructose corn syrup laden foods, simple carbs, and fatty foods as something you don't require.
*A large help is noting the difference between physical hunger/real hunger and emotional hunger. This difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger can be spotted by noting first what physical hunger/real hunger feels like. Real hunger is when you are good and hungry. Emotional hunger shows up when you feel anxious, down, bored, hurt, lonely, self-critical, and tense. This is when we are prone to mindlessly snack on foods that are greasy, salty, sweet, processed--junk foods. We gobble this stuff in front of the TV and genrally on a couch, recliner, or bed. To quit emotional eating we need to become aware of our body cues for real hunger and snacking emotional hunger.
*Learn how to eat a healthy anti-inflammatory diet with its lean proteins, fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains, and plenty of fiber. This diet makes it easier to avoid comfort foods and to eat healthy.
*Be aware that feeling guilty or shameful about our snacking can toss us right back into emotional hunger and eating. Accept that we sometimes make this habitual shift. Accept yourself and do something else.
*Often emotional eaters don't feel satisfied after eating--they feel bloated and fatigued.
*Avoid any snacking by the TV or on the couch or bed. Make these places off limits for snacking. Eat your regular meals at a table only.
*Write about emotional eating incidents with the Emotional Writing Process. This can give us emotional insight into what is happening.
*Get enough sleep (7 to 9 hours). Tiredness can lead to emotional eating because we often to feel down and fatigued then.
*Watch out for avoided emotions. They can quickly trigger emotional eating.
*Self-acceptance can dampen the need for emotional eating. See Tips on Self-Acceptance on Emoclear.com.
*Let emotional hunger cravings pass. Observe them and let them go by. Use the Thought Chiller.
*Bitter or quinine water can reduce cravings for sweets by discombobulating your taste buds. Sipping black tea can also reduce cravings.
*Avoid skipping meals.
*Folks need to have constructive "go to" behaviors to replace habitual behaviors leading up to emotional eating. These can be installed with the Habit Cracker, the Pattern Tree, or the Behavior Repatterner (found in the book: "Your Emotional Power")
*Exercise helps us with our emotional life and stress and so keeps the emotional eating down.
*Learn an Integrator to slice down those arousal style feelings that might trigger emotional eating (You can find one you prefer on the A-Z List at Emoclear.com).
*Other relaxing "go to" behaviors are:
-Chew sugarless gum.
-Learn and utilize powerful relaxation techniques, like the Longevity Maneuver, the Hand-Warming/Belly Breathing Method, or the Dive Reflex, to undercut stress and arousal feelings that can turn on Emotional Eating.
-Exercise aerobically and strength train.
-A favorite hobby.
*Learn how to stop cravings on the spot:
-Submerge your tongue in saliva.
-Chew sugarless gum.
-Use one of our vagus nerve stimulating relaxation techniques such as the Longevity Maneuver, the Hand-Warming/Belly Breathing Method, or the Dive Reflex.
-Feel the cravings with an Integrator until it die out.
*Learn how to overcome Low Frustration Tolerance (I can't stand-it-itis, it's too much, I can't do without it, etc.) with the "I Stood It Exercise. Being able to stand cravings and urges can make it much easier not to get dragged back into emotional eating.
*Learn to recognize real hunger from compulsive hunger or cravings:
-Compulsive hunger comes abruptly while physical hunger comes on gradually. Very often people with compulsive eating challenges crave comfort foods like simple carb snacks, pizza, cake, chocolate, chips, ice cream--the munchie stuff. Other non comfort foods won't be interesting.
-Compulsive eating isn't satisfied when you're full. You're liable to keep munching. With true hunger you stop when you're feeling full. You also don't feel guilty after you've fulfilled real hunger."
Explore the following personality cluster from our Personality Clusters page:
EMOTIONAL EATING PERSONALITY CLUSTER: This personality cluster is involved in compulsive eating to block emotions like anxiety, sadness, boredom, anger, guilt, jealousy, and overwhelm. Personality Clusters can be integrated. Emotional Eating beliefs are:
*I must eat right now.
*I need pizza, pasta, sweet foods, ice cream, pretzels, or some cake.
*Snacks make me feel good.
*I deserve something to eat after all I've been through.
*What's a little snackiepoo--what the heck.
*When I start to feel like this, I have to eat something.
*I can't stand not having what I want.
*When nobody listens or gives me attention, I think about food.
*I need goodies to feel good and block painful emotions.
*I have no control over this. I have to answer my urges.
*If I crave something to eat, I have to eat it.
*I can't stand being frustrated.
*I deserve to eat whenever I want.
*If others didn't cause me to feel this way, I wouldn't be eating like this.
*A bag of cookies and some chocolates won't hurt. I need to pamper myself.
*I'm powerless over snacking and eating.
*I'm a _______ once I get going and can't stop.
*Being chubby makes me worthless or no good.
*Easy for you to say. I have a disease!
*I don't have an eating problem.
*I'll start watching what I eat...tomorrow.
*I never could control this. Why bother?
*Once a foodaholic always a foodaholic.
*I really feel guilty about eating. I HAVE to eat something.
*I can't cope without my candy, pizza, or Hostess Twinkies.
*I'm not addicted to food--I control it whenever I want. There's no problem.
*I can stop later.
*A little ____________ won't hurt--what the heck. *_______________ makes me feel okay.
*I just don't have the will power.
*Just one more. Mmmm--they taste sooo good.
*I'm not responsible for this condition. It's genetic.
*I buy all THIS for my family. I can't let this go to waste?
*If I feel bad, food helps.
*I can't stop thinking about food.
*I can't help giving into my craving.
*There's a lot of pressure in my family to eat. I can't help giving in.
Art: "Waffle Party" by Rachel Mensing