How to Conquer Emotional Eating (1:53)
Try these steps from Dr. Michelle May, MD, mindful eating expert and author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, to harness control of your cravings and have a healthier diet.
Step 1: Realize Everyone Eats for Emotional Reasons
Humans are hardwired to eat for emotional reasons, so it's counterproductive to say or think to yourself, "Just don't do it." Guilt and shame feed this eat-repent-repeat cycle. There's a way to comfort yourself with food while remaining physically and emotionally healthy.
Step 2: Change Your Mind-Set
Stop worrying about eating less and start loving the food you eat more. When you label certain foods as bad and forbidden, you put them on a pedestal. This gives those foods more power, making you crave them more then you typically would. Then when you eat that food you feel guilty, which becomes another emotional trigger for overeating. Remember that food will not harm you as long as your practice moderation.
Step 3: Divide Your Cravings Into Two Buckets
Imagine you have two buckets, a fuel bucket and an emotional-needs bucket. You fill the fuel bucket when you eat because you're physically hungry. When you eat because of unmet emotions, no matter how much or how often you eat you can't meet those emotional needs. When a craving doesn't come from hunger, eating will never satisfy it.
Step 4: Create a New Ritual
Instead of walking in the door and eating right away, try a new self-care routine. Set a nice table, light some candles, and turn on music. Then if you want that dessert, it will feel more special, like a treat.