For those who are having problems due to emotional eating, stress management tactics may be able to help. Often people have turned to food as a coping mechanism because they were never taught any other way to deal with stress in their lives. This is something that can quite often be traced back to childhood.
How many of us grew up with a mother, aunt or grandmother that thought food was the panacea to all our ills? They’d give us a cookie to take our minds of falling and skinning our knee or offer us a bowl of ice cream after we broke up with our boyfriend. Besides offering food when we were hurt or upset, they also would go the other direction and not eating food became a guilt-inducing thing. If you didn’t clear your plate, were you ever told that your parents worked hard to put that food on the table or better yet, that there were starving children in Africa who would appreciate that food?
No wonder there are so many people suffering with eating disorders such as compulsive eating, anorexia and bulimia! We were conditioned to associate food with our emotions. For most people, other stress coping mechanisms are learned and they never have an issue with food. For some, however, eating becomes their solution to handling any type of stress.
In overcoming serious emotional eating, stress management tactics can be taught that can replace food as a coping mechanism. There are many different stress management tactics that can work to help a person cope with stress and anxiety. Once a person learns these, it’s a matter of changing your habits from turning to food when upset or anxious to using a different stress reliever.
The first step will be to identify what triggers your emotional eating. Stress management really can’t be implemented until you know these triggers. Some of these triggers will be easy to identify but others could take longer as they are so deeply ingrained that you don’t even realize what’s going on. Until you’ve figured out what those “hidden” triggers are, you won’t be able to eliminate them.
Once you’ve discovered the causes of emotional eating, stress management tactics will be used instead of eating. This could be something like taking a walk before going to the refrigerator when the urge to eat hits you and it’s not because you’re hungry. Another might be to write your feelings out in a journal rather than reaching for that bag of potato chips.