Dealing with Emotional Eating

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Have you ever had a bad day and then headed home only to blow your calorie count out of the water?  How about those days when you are so frustrated that you can’t even wait to get home and repeatedly hit the vending machine for a treat?
Emotions of any kind can bring on the cue to our bodies to want food.  If we are joyful, we celebrate with cake. In times of sadness we take casseroles to comfort the grieving. In anger, we punish ourselves by eating everything in sight.  Often times we console our own sadness, loneliness, or boredom with food. 
Since times of old, there have been celebrations with food, and it has been at the center of a society.  No wonder it is so engrained in us to desire it.  Society as a whole is very centered on eating and dieting.  How do you fight it?
I can speak from my point of view, how I won my personal war over emotional eating to lose 150 pounds with SparkPeople.  First of all, I read everything I could on emotional eating on the site.  I found the Mind Over Body program very helpful.   Reading allowed me to identify what I was dealing with and give me ideas for coping.  I still had to come up with some of my own, as not everything works for everyone.
One of the things I do is get my feelings out now.  I blog, talk to friends, write poetry, or do whatever it takes to deal with my emotions.  Sometimes that means praying and sometimes that means telling someone just how I really feel, even if they don’t like it or agree with me.
I eat to soothe a particular emotion, to feel some physical relief or comfort from food.  So, it makes sense to me that what I should do is find something else that gives me the emotional or physical relief I am trying to get.  For me, a warm bath scented with candles works to make me feel safe, secure and comforted.  Other times climbing in bed with a big comforter and a movie works better.  Whatever your ways of dealing with emotional eating, make sure it soothes you in a physical and emotional way, the way food does.
Sometimes I eat to avoid.  I want to avoid thinking of something or put off something that I have to do that I don’t necessarily want to do.  My thought pattern goes something like “Okay, after I eat this _____, I’ll ____.”  Then, after I eat the food, I feel guilty, so I stew over what I just ate and start loathing my failure.  I guess the self loathing is easier to handle than whatever it was I was supposed to do and wanted to avoid.  Instead, I now get a glass of my favorite sugar-free beverage or a light beverage with vitamins in it to perk me up.  It feels like a treat.  Then I slowly make a plan to tackle the obstacle.  Sometimes advice from a friend can even help with your perspective on a situation.  Becoming aware of eating to avoid was a critical step for me.
Another thing I do is stay full with mini meals.  I eat 300-400 calories every 4 hours or so to keep from getting hungry. I divide my calories for the day into five or six mini meals--it makes a tremendous difference in how much fuller I feel.
I exercise now, which helps me relieve stress.  A mix of cardio and resistance seems to do best for me.  I put on a very upbeat playlist and then really hammer out a workout.  I feel so much better then.  It’s like an anvil got lifted off of my shoulders.  Sometimes a bit of quiet yoga can help settle nervous energy.
SparkPeople also has a team for Emotional Eaters, which is particularly helpful.  The Dealing with Depression team is another team that can help you cope during rough times.  Be sure and search through the SparkPeople teams for a team that suits your personal issues and emotions.  There are answers out there for each of us.  We just have to find them.
What do you do when you feel like emotional eating?