This is a direct copy of a guest post I wrote for I Quit Sugar on 5 strategies to deal with emotional eating in the moment. The original post can be found here.
There is a reason chick flicks show break-up scenes with a girl on the couch with a whole tub of ice cream and chocolate wrappers as a blanket.
And while I think it’s great that we can laugh at these scenes and at ourselves, it’s also a serious battle that many women face on a regular basis. One that can become a significant source of anxiety, guilt or shame.
There are physiological reasons why we crave sugar when we’re emotionally stressed. Which means there are some great strategies we can implement to help manage such situations and avoid emotional eating.
1. Don’t keep tempting foods or “trigger foods” in the house.
If Tim Tams or a block of Cadbury are an all or nothing free-for-all for you, it’s best to save them for special occasions or when dining out.
2. Buy smaller.
Ever opened a big block of chocolate with the intention of having a couple of squares, only to hear said chocolate block calling your name from the cupboard?
Yep. I know. It can be hard. One way to help is to buy smaller packets of indulgent foods. It creates another “barrier” or “stopping point” as I like to call it. It was actually one of the first steps I took to heal myself from emotional eating.
3. Practise the 20-minute rule.
Once you experience an emotional eating trigger, or craving and are about to act on it, set a timer for 20 minutes.
In that 20 minutes you need to drink a big glass of water or herbal tea, take 10 deep belly breathes, do ONE chore (e.g. put the clothes away), and ask yourself “Will having X food solve X feeling? How will I feel after consuming X food?”.
Then once the 20 minutes is up, reassess the cost versus benefit of giving into the emotional food craving.
4. Keep a journal.
Every time you manage to successfully implement the above strategy and avoid entering an emotional eating food coma, write down how you feel.
Likewise, when you DO give into the emotional food cravings and have a “binge” episode, write it down.
Use this journal to reference back to during your 20-minute rule above to remind yourself of how you felt when you both avoided and gave into the emotional food cravings. It will help, trust me.
5. Change your reward system.
This is more of a long-term, root cause strategy that I’d encourage you to actively work on in the background.
Instead of routinely rewarding your achievements or behaviour with food (even healthy food), I want you to reward yourself with some other form of self-care.
Some great ideas include getting a massage, a facial, a date night without the kids, a new pair of yoga pants or an afternoon hike in the woods.
This will help create a healthier relationship with food. Remember, you do NOT have to earn your food!
Pop any questions you have in the comments below or on social media!