It’s not surprising that emotional eating has little to do with your actual hunger; it is directly related to emotional triggers. Our emotions can have a powerful influence on our actions, especially eating. In fact, a study in Psychosomatic Medicine confirmed that people tend to consume food in order to self-medicate their feelings of stress or anxiety. If weight loss is on your list of resolutions for the New Year, then applying techniques to control emotional eating will definitely help you achieve that goal.
According to my colleague Natalie Shay, an expert specializing in Stress, Emotional Eating and Psychotherapy, the three most important ways to stop emotional eating are to do the following:
- Become aware of your true hunger signals.
- Become aware of exactly which emotions drive your eating.
- Learn to stop punishing yourself every time you eat something that you are trying to avoid.
First, drink a glass of water before a meal, this will help you see if you are just dehydrated and need to hydrate, or if it is true hunger. Then Natalie recommends that you begin your healing journey by creating a hunger scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing when you feel so starved you can’t think straight, and 10 representing when you feel so full you can’t move. Before you eat a meal or snack range your current level of hunger. At the end of your meal, write down your current level of hunger again. Try to stay between 4 and 6 before eating and a 6 and 8 afterwards. You shouldn’t be so full that all you want to do is sleep.