Loneliness and depression are major reasons for using food as an emotional crutch.
Emotional eating happens when we turn to food to deal with negative emotions. Very often, when we feel stressed, anxious, depressed, lonely or even bored, we resort to eating food, mostly unhealthy food like chocolates, cakes, pastries, fried food and the like.
Emotional eating is a way to distract ourselves from the unpleasant emotions we feel, in the hope that food will make us feel better. While initially our attention Is diverted from the root cause of what is bothering us, emotional eating can and does become a dangerous habit. It not only leads to obesity and other physical health problems but also to an unhealthy avoidance of facing up to our real feelings.
To get out of the habit, you first have to identify when you tend to eat and what kind of food you tend to eat. Connecting with your hunger levels is extremely important. Ask yourself if you are really hungry. If it is true physiological hunger, then anything will satisfy you. But if it is a particular food you crave intensely, chances are there is something deeper going on.
Loneliness and depression are major reasons for using food as an emotional crutch. Food is used to fill up a psychological void you might be feeling. The key, therefore, is to look deeper and ask yourself what it is you truly want. Is it an ice-cream or a hug, a friend, a companion or a little laughter?
Sometimes, stress and anxiety, too, make us binge because we need to feel reassured that we can make it through. Food usually gives us that initial high and feel good factor. Even boredom makes us mindlessly consume more than we need.
The key is to distract yourself—go for a walk, read a book, listen to music, talk a hot bath, check your email, phone a friend. Usually when you do things that involve your hands like even cleaning your cupboard, the emotional hunger will pass.
Nevertheless, at a deeper level, to truly get over emotional eating you need to connect with and accept the negative feelings you are holding inside. Forgive yourself for being human and for making mistakes. Appreciate the good that lies within and work towards letting go of the past. These are not easy things to do. Nor do they happen overnight. But believe you can and will and that is half the battle won. Till you truly get over you emotional eating, make sure you reach for relatively healthy items like dried and fresh fruits. Avoid keeping fattening snacks at home if that is usually where you tend to binge.
Regular deep breathing exercises, yoga and meditation have been found to be useful for many people. And of course, if need be do not hesitate to see a therapist or counselor.
Free your mind and your body will eventually follow.