Your mood and food can trigger urges that can cause overeating. Eating for some people can be a way of suppressing or soothing negative emotions. These emotions could be stress, anger, anxiety, boredom, sadness, and loneliness.
The connection between mood and food turns these emotional eaters toward comfort foods in times of trouble. They do not necessarily eat more food, but they turn to more unhealthy foods.
Starchy, sweet, salty, and fatty foods can seem to provide comfort but are usually short-term fixes. They can also lead to a long-term habit of unhealthy eating in response to negative feelings. This leads to weight gain and even more negative emotions that can be a never-ending cycle.
Understanding the reasons that cause you to crave unhealthy foods can help you avoid giving in to your cravings. Knowing some signs that trigger emotional overeating can help you recognize the path before you take it.
How your body reacts to these moods may indicate that some foods might have a seemingly addictive quality for many people. Scientists are studying the possibility that sweet and fatty foods might actually relieve anxiety.
For some people, eating comfort foods can be a distraction. While you are eating, your thoughts may be focused on the pleasant taste of the food, but the distraction is only temporary.
When you have finished overeating, you return to your problems and have now added the additional burden of feeling guilty about overeating.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid the unhealthy consequences of emotional overeating:
1. Learn to recognize if your hunger is real. Are you starving or is it emotional overeating?
2. Monitor your eating for the next several days, making note of how much and when you eat, how you are feeling, and if you are starving. A pattern will begin to develop and you can recognize the negative triggers to overeating.
3. If you feel the need to eat because of your mood, try taking a walk, go to a movie, or call a friend to distract you. This gives you a second chance for the feelings to eat to pass.
4. Don’t keep starchy, high fat, high calorie, comfort foods in the house.
5. If you feel you just have to have something to eat between meals, make healthy choices. Keep fresh fruit, pretzels, or low fat, low-calorie foods available.
6. Try to eat your meals at the same time every day and stick to the basic food groups. Fill up on whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, as well as low-fat dairy products and lean meats.
When you eat like this you are more likely to feel full longer and avoid the need for emotional eating. Emotions can trigger cravings for food but you can take steps to control those cravings.
The correlation between your mood and food can affect your eating habits and ultimately your weight loss. Learning to recognize the signs is the first step to success.