Hi, Jamie Sutton here, holistic Registered Dietitian. I want to talk to you about emotional eating. We need to identify the root of the problems that we have in our lives that lead us to emotionally eat. God has made so much good food for us to enjoy – so many wonderful tasting fruits and vegetables and animal products and things that nature has given us that we can enjoy and that taste good. I just want to say that the more nutritious food is, the more flavor it has.
So many of us run to processed food when our emotions are haywire. We run to chemically laden foods. We run to GMO foods as well as foods that are processed with sugar and MSG. These foods will only rob yourself of the freedom that God has for your health. God wants us to be healthy. He wants us to be free. He wants us to live an abundant life and a vibrant life free of disease and sickness. He wants us to enjoy our lives and to have energy every day but we need to fuel our bodies with the right things. A lot of us know what to eat but it’s those emotional triggers and those things that happen in our lives that really get us off track.
Choose Positive Behaviors
I want to give you three tips that will help reduce emotional eating. My first tip is figure out which emotional triggers trigger you to go to food. Make a list of the emotions. It could be depression. It could be anxiety or sadness. It could be anger. Just make a list of those emotional triggers.
The second tip is make a list of alternative behaviors. These are going to be things that you can do to deal with the emotions. We want to be mindful of what we’re thinking. We want to be mindful of what we’re feeling but we don’t want to condemn ourselves. Feelings are just feelings and are neither right nor wrong. They’re just there. It’s how we deal with our feelings and how we react to them that really makes the difference. Make a list of alternative behaviors. For example, research has shown that exercise really does make a whole world of difference for people who struggle with depression and feel down. You could go out and take a brisk walk or do a work out. Go to the gym and pump iron. That helps get out aggression. It doesn’t have to be going to the gym and pumping iron but if you’re one that’s real physical then maybe get out that aggression through 10 or 15 minutes of doing some kind of exercise to release that anger or agitation or that irritation. Something I like to do is pray. Meditate or pray. Just take some deep breaths and just pray and ask God to help you at that moment. Ask God to give you the strength and the grace to not turn to things that are going to sabotage your health or things that are going to be bad for you. Ask God to help soothe those emotions and help you to become emotionally balanced and to give you comfort so that you won’t feel as tempted to jump to food. Another example could be calling a friend that’s a good support system instead of jumping to food. Get on the phone and call a couple friends and vent. There’s so many other things you could do as well.
My third tip is make sure you’re really hungry. Ask yourself this: Do I feel physically hungry? Does my stomach feel empty? Do I feel light-headed? Do I experience symptoms of physical hunger? If so, then you probably really are just hungry and you can eat. If not then drink a tall glass of water. Drink 20 ounces of water slowly. Sometimes that will help. It will give us a few minutes for our emotions to calm down. If you’re still hungry after about 20 minutes of drinking 20 ounces of water then eat. Be mindful of what you eat. Eat something that you want to eat at that time. If you’re craving something sweet then eat a piece of fruit or eat some kind of healthy treat. If you’re craving fat then maybe have a handful of nuts or maybe have some organic butter or an avocado. My husband actually calls me a weirdo for doing this but I actually love butter. I like cutting off a pat of butter and just eating it. it’s so yummy! Pick a healthy version of whatever you are craving whether it be fat or sugar. Pick something natural to eat and see if that satisfies you and or just eat a meal if you’re really hungry. If you want something that’s not so good for you then wait about 20 to 30 minutes and if you still really want that unhealthy treat then give yourself a small serving like maybe the size of the palm of the hand or even smaller depending on what it is.