How To Overcome Emotional Eating When Starting a Diet

Emotional eating is an eating habit, driven by emotions rather than hunger.

Ishaan Arora
Written by: Ishaan AroraUpdated at: May 11, 2023 10:00 IST
How To Overcome Emotional Eating When Starting a Diet

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How many times have you arrived after a difficult day at work and the first thing you did was finish the ice cream tub? This is probably what every Monday looks like. 

When starting a diet, one of the biggest challenges that people face is emotional eating. Emotional eating is a common problem for dieters, with the majority of people seeking consolation in one type of food, such as chips or ice cream. Instagram posts refer to it as an eating disorder, but it is actually an automatic behaviour based on a person's personal experience. So, if you have a terrible relationship with food or find it difficult to stick to a diet, let's start by understanding what emotional eating is, its symptoms, and how to overcome it. 

What Is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is a type of eating behaviour that is driven by emotions rather than hunger or nutritional requirement. It can be triggered by a wide range of emotions, including stress, anxiety, boredom, sadness, or even happiness. 

Emotional eating is often associated with negative emotions, such as stress or sadness, but it can also be triggered by positive emotions, such as celebrations or social events.

Symptoms Of Emotional Eating

The symptoms of emotional eating can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of emotional eating include:

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  1. Eating when not hungry or full
  2. Eating to soothe or comfort oneself
  3. Eating as a way of dealing with stress, worry, or other emotions
  4. Feeling guilty or ashamed after eating
  5. Feeling out of control when eating
  6. Craving specific foods when experiencing certain emotions

How To Overcome Emotional Eating When Starting A Diet

Identify The Triggers

The first step in overcoming emotional eating is to identify the triggers that cause you to eat emotionally. Keep a food diary and track when and where you eat. Look for patterns in your eating habits and identify the emotions that trigger your emotional eating.

Find Alternatives

Once you have identified your emotional eating triggers, find alternative ways to deal with your emotions. For example, if stress triggers your emotional eating, try stress-reducing techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

Distract Yourself

When you feel the urge to eat emotionally, distract yourself with an activity that you enjoy, such as reading a book, taking a walk, or listening to music. This can help you shift your focus away from food and reduce your emotional eating.

Practise Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a method that can help you better regulate your eating habits. By introducing mindful eating into your daily routine, you can easily manage your weight, reduce binge eating, and feel better.

Plan Your Meals

You may easily stick to a regular eating pattern by preparing your meals ahead of time and incorporating foods that are familiar to your gut. This can also help you avoid being overly hungry, which can lead to emotional eating.

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Seek Support

Join a support group or seek the help of a therapist or counsellor. Talking to someone about your emotional eating can help you gain insights into your behaviour and develop strategies to overcome it.

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