Habit or Hunger: Understanding and Controlling Emotional Eating

We associate so many things in our lives with other things. Have you ever noticed how a smoker may light up every time they get in their car?

Habit or Hunger

Well, food can be the same way. Every time you sit down to watch the game, you have to open a bag of chips. Talking on the phone is a good one also.

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A few years ago I noticed that every time a got on the phone with a particular person, I was always chewing on something whether I was hungry or not.

It must have sucked for the person on the other end of the phone.

If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution.

Part of this program is about learning to be mindful and recognize true hunger. Or are you eating because you have associated eating with watching TV, surfing the web, talking on the phone or any number of other activities?

A detailed food journal can help you identify behaviors that you have associated with eating. These behaviors may be emotionally driven, but they can also be associated with events or activities.

When eating habits turn compulsive, it is important to look at everything. Night eating can be a big one for many people.

If we shouldn’t eat at night, why is there a light in the fridge?

Loneliness, boredom and tiredness are more prevalent at night and these are some of the emotions that can bring on compulsive eating behaviors.

The goal here is to take a minute to decide if you have belly hunger or head hunger. Belly hunger requires food and head hunger needs something else.

Start by removing yourself from stressful situations if possible. Then drink a glass of water.

Healthy eating is knowing when to stop eating. Have you ever eaten so much that you feel like you can’t move?

Most of us have been there at one time or another, but is this a regular pattern in your life?

Compulsive overeaters not only have a difficult time identifying true hunger, but it can be difficult to know when you are full.

Intuitive eating focuses on eating slowly so you can enjoy what you are eating and are able to identify when you are full before you get to the point of feeling stuffed.

The goal is to stop eating when you are satisfied (or slightly before) to avoid overeating. Changing the “habit” takes practice.

You may not be successful every time you attempt to avoid eating when you have emotional hunger.

But the groundwork will be laid. If you make it a point to stop and consciously ask yourself if you are truly hungry, the instances of eating without being hungry will begin to decrease.

The action item here is to take the time to evaluate if your desire to eat is hunger or habit.

How you can change the outcome...