3 signs that you’re emotionally eating and 5 ways to stop it

I know I’m late to the game but I’ve very recently started watching The Big Bang Theory. Unfortunately, reruns are on twice a night and repeating throughout the day. An additional new episode is available Thursdays.

Added to the mix is the fact that it had been quite a dark, cold, really cold, really frigidly cold, really frigidly what-am-I-doing-living-in-Canada cold winter this time around. Along with taking a leave of absence from the gym for a number of months due to injuries, I’ve found myself falling into the emotional eating trap. Infographic, if you please.

Emotional eating happens when you eat for reasons other than hunger. For me it’s when I sit in front of the TV. Before discovering The Big Bang Theory reruns, I watched very little TV. When I regularly lifted weights, I got into a very good habit of not even wanting to eat in front of the TV. Now, I’ve fallen off the wagon. 

Fortunately, I can get right back up!

After all, we’re only human and we’re given the change to make things right. So in the spirit of this blog, I’d like to talk a bit about what else triggers emotional eating and what we can do about it.

1. Tuning out in front of the TV

Back when I was a child growing up in the 1980s, I’ve heard many times how sitting in front of the TV entices you to eat even when you’re not hungry. Whether you see a specific food item on the family sitcom or in a tv commercial, you are most likely going to get up during the commercial break and grab a snack from the kitchen.

This time around, I noticed that I’ve built a habit of having to eat something while I watch TV. I tried to fight it only to cave in. Sheesh, what happened to the mentally tough version of me from 2013? What’s worse is if the show hasn’t ended yet, I’ll find something else to eat to fill time.

2. Being bored

When I watch TV, it’s in my spare time. Mostly after dinner on weeknights, during lunch on Saturdays and during (and sadly, after) dinner on Sundays. After a long day of work and a long, fury-inducing drive in traffic, I just want to plop myself on the couch and be entertained. Not good after having spent yet another workday sitting in front of a computer!

3. Looking for comfort

Watching TV – or watching a movie or reading a book – takes me away to another land and into another life of someone else’s misadventures and hijinks. Who needs reality after a hard day’s work when you can escape to brighter, sunnier days?

After spending three absolute frigid months indoors and away from my gym, boy did I need comfort!

What’s wrong with a little comfort?

Nothing. It’s the underlying issues that’s causing emotional eating in the first place. The last thing you want to do is fill yourself up with junk food while you’re brain is getting lazy from sitting there and watching TV. You’re sad and this triggers many things in your mind, body and mood. Besides, The Big Bang Theory isn’t always a good TV show. It has it’s golden episodes and for whatever reason, it has it’s stinker of a non-story. In fact, I feel terrible after watching a pretty bad episode. What a waste of my time.

So the outcome ends up being quite simply: you’re eating more than you need. And it’s most likely “comfort food” (a.k.a. junk).

Now how to get back into the swing of things?

Easy! But it may be difficult at first but well worth the effort. I did this last year, too:

1. Ask yourself if you’re really hungry

Since most of my TV watching is done in front of the TV at night, this is a simple answer. No, I am not hungry. I just ate dinner! But oh, I need something sweet to sink my teeth into. How about some dates? They are healthy and full of fibre… While that’s a topic for another post, I’m still feeding my emotional eating habit. Perhaps I can eat the dates at the dinner table before I put the dishes away.

2. Don’t skip meals

And don’t shop while you’re hungry either. You’ll end up buying things on impulse then you’ll gain the issue of spending too much money. Skipping meals will guarantee a nice big, shovelling bingefest. Another topic for a future post.

3. Keep junk food out of the house

I’ve had junk food cravings throughout 2013 but never caved in because I’ve never had any junk food in the house. It’s amazing how quickly the cravings go away when you can’t fulfill them. And thank goodness I’m too lazy to jump in the car and go satisfy that itch!

4. Keep healthy replacements in the house

Ok, so you’d rather keep sweets and junk food in the home. Know what I’ve found to be an irresistible treat while watching TV? Frozen cherries. Or frozen raspberries. Or frozen grapes. This only works in the summer. Not really in the frigid wintry days. But you get my drift. If you want sugar, might as well eat it when it comes with fibre, vitamins and minerals.

5. Exercise regularly

Yet another topic for a future post but trust me on this one, having a regular exercise routine keeps you in top healthy eating and mental toughness form. This bit of advice wasn’t on the above mentioned infographic but I certainly found it to have played a huge, influential role in making it too easy for me to stick to my goals. Exercising kept me in a great mood, I was never bored and I didn’t crave sugar.

Physio can’t finish soon enough!

Have you been emotionally eating? What are you doing to stop yourself?

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