Overcoming emotional overeating requires a clearer understanding of what actually happens when someone feels inclined to indulge in the behavior. Try keeping a diet journal and take note of your mood each time you eat. Doing so will allow you to identify when you had an emotional overeating episode. It will also help you figure out how often you eat when you’re in a bad mood, the time of day it’s most likely to occur, as well as which days of the week it’s likely to occur on. Last but not least, you’ll also be able to figure out which foods you need to get rid of.
2. Ride the storm out
As its name suggests, emotional overeating occurs due to an individual feeling a negative emotion. What the overeating does is distract you from feeling the emotion and prevent it from running its course. During the onset of a negative emotion, you should allow yourself to experience what you’re feeling rather than doing something to prevent you from feeling it. The next time that you have an overwhelming emotion, just let it run its course and take no action to prevent it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the emotion subsides, and you’ll avoid overeating in the process.
When you resort to emotional overeating when feeling a negative emotion, you are empowering your food to be more than just nutrition. You give it power over you by allowing it to become a coping strategy, which means that your desire for it will intensify. You condition yourself to believe that food is a requirement for getting through tough times. Furthermore, if you happen to turn to high-fat and/or high-sugar foods, they can have an impact on the part of the brain that manages stress, thus reinforcing your reliance on emotional overeating. If you really must eat something, reach for raw fruit or vegetables, because these foods will have little to no effect on your brain activity.
4. Learn healthy coping mechanisms
Rather than turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse or spending many hours at a time in front of the television, you should turn to healthy ones, such as exercising or talking with a supportive friend. When considering a coping strategy that’s likely to work for you, you should ask yourself: ““Will doing this make me feel better or worse right now?” and “Will doing this make me feel better or worse tomorrow?”. If the answer to both questions is better, then it’s likely to be a healthy coping mechanism.