We’ve all done it. We’ve felt stressed, overworked or just had a bad day and found ourselves finishing off that last pint of ice cream. Junk food may make us feel better temporarily, but the crash and weight gain afterward isn’t worth it! What if you find yourself feeding those cravings on a regular basis? It could be due to emotional eating. Here are some natural ways to keep your emotions (and diet) in check.
Studies show that about 40% of people tend to eat more when stressed. It turns out that emotional eating is considered a mental health issue, not a weight issue, because the root of the problem goes deeper than just the food you consume. The first step is to recognize and address the excessive behavior.
Identifying Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is a response to stress by consuming comfort foods, sugary treats, salty snacks and fast food (such as cookies, chocolate, fries, pizza and chips) in an attempt to control and cope with negative feelings or thoughts. Some people use food to escape from feeling pain or to avoid any feelings at all.
Simple carbohydrates like sugar give the body a temporary “high” from the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain, which creates a temporary feeling of calm and well-being. However, sugary foods burn off very quickly, immediately affecting brain chemistry and causing an inevitable “crash” (sluggish) feeling afterwards. Consuming excess empty calories without any nutritional value may also have a negative effect on the body by sticking to your waist line.
Because emotional eating may lead to overeating, it can cause food addiction, poor self-esteem, weight gain and eventually obesity. The difference between emotional eating and binge eating is the quantity of food eaten. However, there are many natural ways to help control emotionally-driven cravings.
Support a Healthy Mood to Curb Cravings
Take charge of your emotional eating habits with these easy steps.
1. Maintain healthy blood sugar levels already in the normal range.
A cortisol management supplement such as Cortisol Manager by Integrative Therapeutics may help support balanced blood sugar levels already in the normal range, as well as a healthy mood and a regular sleep cycle.
2. Eat complex carbohydrates.
Eat more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Taking a daily multivitamin may also support optimal health.
3. Eat lean protein with L-tryptophan.
Foods like poultry, oil-rich fish, beans, nuts, soy, tofu and seeds, which contain L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid, support the production of serotonin and may promote a more stable mood. You can also take a supplement such as L-Tryptophan by Source Naturals to support optimal health.
4. Eat omega 3-, 6- and 9- essential fatty acids.
Eating fatty fish and taking nutritional supplements of omega 3-, 6- and 9- essential fatty acids may support a healthy immune system and promote a healthy mood.
5. Take a BCM-95 curcumin supplement.
In a previous blog, we reported several clinical studies that suggest BCM-95 curcumin formulations, made with turmeric essential oil, may support people struggling with depression and anxiety by promoting the production of “feel good” neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. CuraMed™ + DIM Complex from Terry Naturally, for instance, is a dietary supplement containing BCM-95 that promotes a healthy hormone balance for women specifically.
More Ways to Stop Overeating
6. Keep a food and mood journal.
Take notes in a food and mood journal every day to track what and when you eat, as well as how you feel throughout the day. This will help you understand what triggers your emotional eating, and what helps curbs cravings in a natural, healthy way.
7. Practice stress management.
Stress affects your body, mood and behavior. Learn a new hobby to release stress, get a massage, or try aromatherapy with Anxiety Release Synergistic Blend by Wyndmere Oils, an essential oil for natural anxiety relief support.
You can also help your body adapt to stress with Adaptra Stress Relief or Maximum Stress Control by Terry Naturally, supplements containing natural adaptogenic herbs and other botanicals to promote a balanced response to physical and emotional stress. During seasonal changes, try a supplement of St. John’s Wort for mood support.
Also follow these additional tips for stress support.
8. Get regular exercise.
According to Michael Otto, PhD, a professor of psychology at Boston University, “the link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.” Research also shows that exercise may also help alleviate long-term depression. So walk your dog, ride your bike, or shoot some hoops today! Your body will thank you later.
9. Get enough sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to support overall health and mood. Children and teens need more hours of sleep.
10. Reach out to family and friends for support.
Spending time talking to loved ones in person instead of on social media may help support stress relief. Talking about your concerns and being assertive about the things bothering you will help you communicate better. This form of self-expression, along with positive self-talk and other techniques may support overall stress management.
What ways do you avoid emotional eating? We’d love to hear your story. Share your tips below in our comments!