Now that you have recognized emotional eating... what can you do about it? Learn to feel your feelings-- all of them!
Learning what feelings trigger emotional eating is important, but actually learning to feel those feelings without using food to numb them is just as important, if not more so. Everyone has different feelings that are more uncomfortable than others and trigger more shame, such as anger, sadness and loneliness. Learn to recognize those feelings when they come up, and begin trusting yourself to fully feel them. If you find yourself turning to food to numb any specific feelings, it will feel like a dependency on food to help you cope with that feeling and will prevent you from finding other ways to cope.
Before giving into a craving, stop and ask yourself what you are really needing.
Ask yourself "What am I really hungry for right now?" Many times, we turn to food to "feed" a "hunger" that is really about something else, like needing companionship, feeling overwhelmed and needing to do something self-nurturing, or feeling angry and needing to confront a situation or make a life change (job, relationship, etc.).
Develop healthy lifestyle habits that support healthier eating.
This could mean exercising more, getting better or more regular sleep, taking pause and having more moments that are relaxing, or doing more things that are self-nurturing. Remember, the better we treat our body and mind in other areas besides eating, the more value we will place on "self" and want to put healthier foods into our body.
Talk to a therapist.
Food addiction and emotional eating can be a very difficult thing to address and break. Food is unlike other substances-- we NEED it to fuel our body. It can sometimes become overwhelming to try and sort through all of the issues surrounding emotional eating without the help of a trained professional. If you find yourself still struggling after having worked on changing the behavior, a professional counselor can help you navigate emotional eating, to become healthier and happier!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.