We eat not only when we are hungry. Emotional causes can also make us eat even when we have eaten enough to satisfy our physical hunger. Emotional hunger is the key cause of gaining unwanted body weight due to over eating. While physical hunger develops gradually in response to the energy requirements of the body, emotional hunger develops fast even when you are on full stomach.
Curbing emotional eating is necessary to prevent overeating. As we eat sugar laden comfort foods to fulfill our emotional hunger, we consume excess unhealthy calorie. However, you can easily overcome emotional eating if you follow these useful tips.
Be Aware of Emotional Hunger
You can overcome emotional eating only when you are aware that your hunger is triggered not by physical requirement but by emotional reasons. When you experience a strong desire to eat a comfort food, ask yourself are you really hungry. If you realize that it is not physical hunger that is prompting you to eat, ask yourself the cause of the emotional hunger. Perhaps you are stressed, bored or sad.
Once you are aware of the underlying cause of the emotional hunger, find a way to treat your emotional problem. You can try stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises or meditation to calm your mind. You can also talk to your close friends or relatives about your problems or seek professional help.
Find Healthy and Nutritious Alternatives
Breaking a bad habit at one go is difficult. Hence, to cope with emotional hunger, select healthy alternatives. The ideal alternative to the sugar laden treats is a combination of fiber rich healthy carbohydrate and protein foods. While the protein foods will supply your body tryptophan, the precursor of the feel good brain chemical serotonin, insulin released in the blood to absorb glucose following digestion of carbohydrate helps in carrying tryptophan to the brain. As fiber present in carbohydrate slows down carbohydrate digestion, you will feel full for a longer time.
Get Sound Sleep
To curb emotional eating, you need good sleep. Studies have shown that disruption of the normal sleep pattern is associated with bad eating habits. As you feel exhausted you tend to overeat. Hence, aim for 6 to 8 hours of restful sleep daily.
Studies have shown that exercises help in reducing food cravings. When you exercise, your brain becomes stronger. The positive effect of physical activities on the neurocognitive centers of the brain help in controlling bad habits. It also helps in reducing stress and boosting the level of feel good hormones. Hence, to curb emotional hunger and to shed unwanted body weight, exercise daily.
To curb emotional eating, drink tea. Studies have shown that tea helps in decreasing the level of stress hormone that triggers food temptations. In addition, tea is a source of flavonoids that are good for the health.
Practice Mindful Eating
By breaking your autopilot eating habit, practice mindful eating. To break bad eating habits such as snacking whenever you are watching TV and visiting the theater or feeling a strong urge to eat when standing before the refrigerator, ask yourself why you need food. Don’t eat mindlessly. Mindful eating can curb emotional eating easily.
Chewing gum can help in curbing emotional eating. Studies have shown that chewing gum helps in decreasing stress. It is an easy stress management technique that can be practiced any time. When you feel a strong urge to eat due to emotional reasons, chew gum to fight the food craving. However, go for the sugar-free variety. It is advisable to chew gum for 15 minutes before eating. It helps in soothing the brain and reduces food craving.
Rubbing your foot over a ball or massaging your temples can be a quick fix for emotional eating. Self massage helps in reducing the stress hormone level that provides relief from emotional eating.