Emotional Eating Triggers
Do you know what emotions trigger your overeating?
Some of the most common are:
· Anxiety – using food to calm yourself.
· Stress – using food for relief, escape, or relaxation.
· Boredom - eating as something to do.
· Emptiness - eating from a lack of fulfillment or meaning in life.
· Self-soothing when upset – eating as a comforting or consoling activity.
· Loneliness – using food as a friend.
· Frustration, anger, rage – eating as a release.
· Procrastination – “I’ll do this task after I eat something.”
· Loosening the reins – eating as an outlet from a perfectionist life.
· Sadness, mild depression – using food to feel better.
· Celebration – food/eating accompanies most events.
· Excitement, entertainment - using food as something fun.
· Bribery - “if I finish this report, I can have a treat.”
· Reward – “I just closed that deal – now I deserve that big piece of chocolate cake.”
· Rebellion – “nobody can tell me what or how I should to eat.”
Which of these are your biggest triggers?
Feelings are so important because they are what’s actually driving you to eat emotionally.
The more aware you are of your feelings, the easier it will be stop eating for emotional reasons.
Remember that the first step of breaking the emotional eating cycle is to Recognize what you’re feeling.
By identifying your feelings, giving them a name, saying them out loud, and/or writing them down, you are training your brain to catch what’s happening in the moment.
You then can Pause (step 2) and investigate (step 3) what your feelings actually feel like in your body instead of just going on autopilot and overeating.
Put this into Practice:
1. Make a list of the most common feelings that trigger emotional eating for you.
2. Describe an example of when and how these emotional triggers acted on you.
I was feeling a lot of anxiety on my way home last night and the first thing I did when I walked in the door was head to the pantry. I grabbed the bag of chips, started inhaling them and before I knew it the entire bag was gone.
3. Notice where in your body you experience your triggering emotions.
Anxiety – Tightness in my neck, shoulders, and chest. Heaviness and a gripping sensation in my stomach. Unpleasant buzzing throughout my body.
Being aware of the emotional trigger(s) driving your overeating and taking a time out to tune into the feeling(s) you’re experiencing, changes a distracted eating experience into one that is mindful.