Have you ever eaten your way through several pancakes and reached down to grab another one and have been shocked to find that you’ve eaten them all without even realizing it? And you’re not even sure that you are actually hungry but you’re definitely not satisfied?

That is what is called emotional eating. It’s any time that you eat that is not actually related to physical hunger.

It is what psychologists call learned behavior. Basically, we learn to use food in response to emotions or feelings such as boredom, anger, depression, anxiety, stress or even happiness. That is why when the food is gone, we still feel a little bit empty.

This kind of learned behavior can wreak havoc to your emotional as well as physical health. And many people who battle with emotional eating find it really hard to break the habit. The number one mistake people make is that they focus primarily on the physical symptoms and ignore the core emotions that are driving them to eat in the first place. And, while these physical symptoms are important (because they can lead to obesity and other health problems related to excess weight) they cannot alone free you from emotional eating. In fact, trying to tackle the physical symptoms on their own and ignoring the power of the underlying emotions is the primary reason that millions of people fail to lose weight and find themselves at a loss as to how to deal with it all.

The good news is that you do have the power to change the emotional habits that have sabotaged your diet in the past. Eating mindfully allows you to use your emotions positively and to pause in the space between your triggers and your desire to mask them with eating.

With this in mind (no pun intended) we have come up with five powerful tools to shift your focus from emotional eating to mindful eating:


For some people, emotional eating is such a deep subconscious response to their emotions that they are not even aware that it is a problem. However, food can take on drug-like characteristics when we use it to “medicate” our emotions. So being aware that you are eating in an attempt to satisfy your feelings is the first step on the road to tackling the problem and developing healthy coping mechanisms.

The Root Cause

For many people not facing their emotions can actually compound their issues and make things worse. Do not hesitate to pick up the phone to call a friend for help or to seek the advice of a professional.

Water! Water and more Water!

Sometimes our brains confuse thirst with hunger… so next time you feel like reaching for that next chapati, drink a glass of water, wait 20 mins and then ask yourself if you are really physically hungry.

Replace your Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms with Healthy Coping Mechanisms

We are not always ready to deal with emotions or we do not have the tools immediately available to us… but this does not mean we need to throw in the towel. Instead, we can turn to healthy coping mechanisms- like taking a walk, having a bath, working out, or reading an inspiring book. This is a major shift that can help you work with your emotions to push you forward. Often doing something positive will help you be in the right frame of mind to tackle anything that is really bothering you.

Sit Down at the Table

Eating your meals on the go or in front of the TV disconnects your ability to be mindful of what you are eating and how much. Make an event of meal times and treat yourself to good linens and nice food and be aware of what you are eating. Always remember to pause for 20 minutes after you eat before going for a second round- as it takes a while for your brain to catch up with your stomach!

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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