How to Stop Eating Your Feelings

By Allie Caton on October 10, 2017

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Almost every student has used food to deal with feelings. Eating your feelings is a common practice for young people to deal with stress, emotions, or any kind of distress. Many studies have been done on the relationship between eating and stress and it’s been found that as stress goes up, so too does eating.

While binge eating every once in a while is normal and mostly innocent, if it becomes a pattern it can start to negatively impact your well being. It can begin to make you feel shame, guilt, and out of control with your own body. It can also negatively impact your health since the foods that people often binge are high in sugar and/or fat. Chronic binge eating is a serious problem that affects many, many people. It is categorized as an eating disorder and should be treated as such.

If you feel like binge eating or using food to deal with your stress or emotions, there are things that you can do to try and start taking steps to regaining a healthy relationship with food.

1. Identify risk situations

One of the most helpful things you can do to try and stop binge eating habits is to identify which emotions or situations trigger a binge. Once you are able to identify situations that cause you to overeat, you can either find ways to remove yourself from the situation or come up with a specific plan for how to deal with those specific situations.

2. Food tracking

Food tracking can be a bit controversial when it comes to overcoming eating disorders. It’s something that works great for some people but can exacerbate unhealthy eating patterns in others. It’s worth trying out for yourself because it can be very helpful. There are a lot of apps that are available for smartphones that act as food diaries. They help you track what you eat and how many calories and macros the food you are eating has.

This can be a great way to structure your eating and keep to a plan that prevents binge eating. On the flip side, counting calories can be extremely harmful and lead to restricting habits which, often, then lead to bingeing.

3. Take time out to eat

Plan out where and when you are going to eat. Refrain from eating on the go as this can cause overeating throughout the day. Take the time to sit down at a table and have a meal. By doing this, it’s easier to eat well-portioned meals instead of having too many portions over the course of the entire day.

Be mindful about what and how you are eating. Pay attention to the smell, taste, and texture of the food and slow down when you are eating. By eating slower, you feel fuller faster.

4. Don’t diet

It might sound counterintuitive, but dieting can greatly exacerbate binge eating habits.  By restricting yourself, you are more likely to go overboard when you do allow yourself a “cheat meal.” By dieting, you are more likely to take a mile when you give yourself an inch. Instead, change your lifestyle by including lots of healthy foods and don’t refrain from indulging in a treat because it’s not your “cheat day.”

By treating yourself to a cookie or a slice of cake more often, you lessen the risk of eating an exorbitant amount of calories when you do finally let yourself “cheat.”

5. Exercise

Working out has many benefits beyond just burning calories. Working out is also a natural appetite suppressant. Biologically, working out suppresses your appetite so that you don’t overeat. Mentally, working out can also be an appetite suppressant because you are less likely to go overboard on the sweets because you don’t want to cancel out your workout routine.

Working out is also a great way to relieve stress and deal with emotions in a physical way. Instead of dealing with stress through food, going on a run can achieve an even better result than eating 15 cookies.

6. Understand nutrition labels

Take the time to learn how to read nutrition labels. Nutrition labels reveal so much about food that you might not suspect by just eating it. Many packaged foods contain more than one serving size, so understanding how to read nutrition labels can help you navigate how much of a snack to eat and which snacks to buy. There are also lots of hidden sugars and fats in a lot of food, which are naturally addictive to our brains. By reading nutrition labels, you can parse out which foods are high in sugar and fat and are more likely to trigger a binge, and which ones aren’t.

Binge eating is a serious problem for a lot of people. But there are ways to regain your control over your diet. If you don’t feel like you are able to take back control over your diet, reach out to a professional to help guide you through recovery.

By Allie Caton

Uloop Writer
Allie is a creative at heart. She loves to draw and fawns over comic book illustrations and animation. She hopes to be able to use the skills she has cultivated as a Communications major to bring value to the creative industry. Her goal is to one day work somewhere where she can be around creatives while utilizing her writing and illustration skills.

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