How to get emotional eating under control

Many of us are familiar with emotional eating, and in the short term, it is not a bad thing. It's only when it becomes a habit that it can limit your quality of life. These strategies will help you deal with emotional eating. 
The day is stressful and you need some nerve food now? After an argument with your boyfriend, frustration eating feels good? Probably most of us know situations like this. What many of us don't realize is how much we let ourselves be guided by our subconscious and mutate into emotional eaters.  

This is what lies behind emotional eating
We are hungry and eat because our body needs nutrients and energy. But it doesn't stop there: Eating out of boredom, stress, anger, or as a reward is part of everyday life for many - physical hunger doesn't play a role here, it's more about our emotional hunger. According to a report in the news magazine Spiegel Online, about 30 percent of Germans are emotional eaters!

Above all, negative feelings are to be compensated with food. The reason for this can be positive associations between food intake and relaxation (candlelit dinners or meals with friends or family) as well as certain foods that are associated with memories from childhood, with love and warmth. But learned behavior in childhood, when food is used to regulate emotions - for example, chocolate to calm down - can also continue in adulthood. And this no longer has anything to do with eating for pleasure ...

SOS tips for a sweet tooth attack
What strategies can help you in the long term, we show below. In acute situations, the following tips can help you:

Identify the trigger: You want to reach for the chocolate bar or the bag of chips - stop and ask yourself why you want to eat that now. Are you really hungry? Or is it stress, sadness, boredom, etc.?
Think about an alternative: If you have made yourself aware of the trigger, you can counteract it. Think about how you can best confront the situation.
Start the countermeasure: You are bored? Do something or work off the pile of letters that are besieging your desk - the sense of achievement will make you happier than the chips. Feeling sad? Make a phone call to a friend or your parents, or write to get the frustration off your chest. 
Stop emotional eating - this can help
Short-term emotional eating is usually harmless, but if it becomes a habit, it could become a problem and lead to obesity, for example. Moreover, eating doesn't solve the real problems, but instead only displaces them. If you have the feeling that you belong to the emotional eaters, the following measures can help you:

1. keep a food diary
Does emotional eating affect you at all and restrict you in the long term, or is it just a few slip-ups? To find out, you can keep a food diary. In it, you list what you eat, at what time of day, and why! So were you out to dinner with friends, are you feeling stressed, or did your stomach growl? The diary helps you discover patterns in your eating behavior.

2. understand your feelings
If you tend to eat emotionally, ask yourself why you eat. Do you often eat out of boredom, because of stress at work or relationship problems with your partner? Of course, it is not always easy for us to deal with negative emotions and we try to dampen them - e.g. with food. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; the possible causes are too varied. But it often helps to talk to other people about your feelings, to really get things off your chest. Here we give you more tips on how you can better understand your feelings. Don't be afraid to seek professional help for deep-seated problems. 3.

3. listen to your body
Eat when you are hungry! So only reach for food when your body (!) demands nourishment. Avoid snacking on the side as well as overeating and stop when you are full. Remember: You should not starve yourself, of course, but you can eat again if you feel hungry again. Pay attention to your body's signals. In between: Distract yourself.

4. find alternatives
Eating is a habit, like many other things in our lives. If you eat mainly out of boredom, break that habit by finding another one. It works, you just need some time. And that's how you can change your habits.

5. stress management
If frustration or stress is your main stressors, we have tips for you. Reducing frustration works well with sports and breathing exercises, and - just like stress management - talking to people you trust can also help. Certain relaxation techniques are also a good way to manage stress.


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