Ever notice how stress makes you hungry? It’s not just in your mind. When stress is chronic, as it so often is in our chaotic, fast-paced world, it leads to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods—foods that give you a burst of energy and pleasure. The more uncontrolled stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief. There is a true difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger!
Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food - usually "comfort" or junk foods - in response to feelings instead of hunger. Experts estimate that 75 percent of overeating is caused by emotions.
One study found that happy people seem to want to eat things like pizza, sad people prefer ice cream and cookies and bored people crave salty, crunchy things, such as chips. Researchers also found that guys seem to prefer hot, homemade comfort meals, like steaks and casseroles; girls go for chocolate and ice cream.”
Does no one take comfort in carrots and celery sticks? Researchers are looking into that, too. What they're finding is that high-fat foods, like ice cream, may activate certain chemicals in the body that create a sense of contentment and fulfillment. This almost addictive quality may actually make you reach for these foods again when feeling upset. A recent study found that people who were sleep deprived tended to overeat. In fact, compared with people who got to sleep as much as they wanted, those who were rousted out of bed too early ate 550 additional calories every day.
10 Tips on How To Help With Emotional Eating:
- Comfort or reward yourself/members of your family with something other than food (creating habits like that can be hard to break later)
- Identify your emotion (if it’s not hunger):
- Stressed? Try getting some exercise (running, walking the dog, playing with the kids)
- Anxious? Make a “to do” list of everything you need to get done and get started!
- Bored? Make plans with a friend, read a book, watch a movie
3. Before you eat, stop and think:
- “Am I actually hungry or am I feeling something else?” (stress, boredom, sadness, happiness)
- “Will eating this solve the problem” as in, if you are hungry, the feeling of hunger will go away after you eat, but if you are stressed you will probably still be stressed after you eat and may even feel guilty
4. Don’t follow “fad diets” – cutting out certain foods/food groups may cause you to overeat later during emotional times. It’s okay to have a treat, but know when to stop.
5. Make a list of all your cravings during the week. At the end of the week, if you are still craving something, try to find a healthy alternative or get a single of that item (For example, frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or just buying a single cupcake so you don’t have extras lying around the house).
6. Don’t eat by the pantry/in bed/in front of the TV – these are places we tend to keep reaching for things without thinking about how much we are consuming.
7. Check out the serving size before you start snacking – just knowing that that box of cookies you’re about to reach for goes by a serving of only 2 cookies may help deter you from eating a whole box
8. Take the foods you tend to emotionally eat and put some in pre-portioned servings. This way if you do reach for it you will only eat the serving size, not an unreasonable amount.
9. Before you eat, drink a glass of water (some feelings of “hunger” actually come from just being dehydrated).
10. DON’T GRAZE – track/plan what you are going to eat throughout the day. You can also track what you’re feeling throughout the day to find specific patterns in your emotional eating habits (do you always eat right when you get home from work or late at night before bed when you’re tired?). This will help you see how your eating habits and feelings relate.
CHECK OUT SOME OF MY FAVORITE MEALS BELOW!
Make a meal plan on Sunday and stick with it throughout the week!!!