Comfort food. There’s nothing quite like it. Amidst a stressful situation or after a tiring day, it just seems to soothe the soul.
However, stress eating our comfort foods is not about eating a meal because you’re hungry, but more about trying to “fill a void” or create a “fullness” using food. This becomes emotional eating.
In cases of emotional eating, chemicals in the brain go a bit haywire and emotions fuel the urge to chow down in excess. This is often to distract from, soothe, or suppress negative feelings.
There are parts of our brains that trigger feelings of reward from eating foods that are high in fat or sugar. Any behavior that feels like a reward is likely to be repeated and can become a difficult habit to break. Good news is, it can be done!
As with most battles of the brain, being aware of the issue is a good first step in stopping the problem. Try to recognize the triggers, so that you are more aware to navigate around them and break the pattern.
Some people choose to keep a food diary to note what they ate and why they chose that specific food. Including the emotions they were feeling at the time.
You can call a close friend for a quick chat—especially if they are aware of your struggles—this can result in needed encouragement.
Exercise can not be overstated when it comes to mental distractions and refocusing. It busies the brain and gets good feeling endorphins going. If you can exercise outdoors, even better! Exposure to fresh air and sunshine offers positive benefits to many areas of our bodies.When you find yourself in stressful situations or reaching for an unhealthy snack to binge on, work on positive self-talk and try to implement some of these other ways to soothe the feelings without consuming food at the moment. The battle of emotional eating can be won!