The idea that food and diet (whether cooked, raw, vegan, etc.) can help the body heal itself is a concept thousands of years old.
We've heard it from Hippocrates in one of his famous proverbs, "Let food be thy medicine, and let thy medicine be food".
Why you eat is as important as what you eat. Emotional eating is extremely common. In fact, it is pretty much intertwined into our eating culture. Take the concept of dessert, for example. What is dessert? Dessert is something yummy, tasty. Does your body need that chocolate tart? Of course, not. So, why do we eat desserts? Because we want to enjoy the taste of what we are eating. That's an emotional reason. Dessert is for the mind, not for the body.
EMOTIONAL EATING ISN'T A PROBLEM, MINDLESS EMOTIONAL EATING IS
Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food - usually "comfort" or junk foods - in response to feelings instead of hunger. If we can be alert to the why of our problem with emotional eating, then we will be better equipped to deal with the how of fixing it.
Some of the common emotional eating cues are:
Whether you're angry at yourself, another person or a situation, you stifle your feelings using food rather than confronting them and releasing them. It's easier to smother a problem than to deal with it.
When you think: Nothing really matters anyway. Nothing's ever going to change or get better for me. So, why should I care about my health or weight? Besides, eating makes me feel better.
3. Lack of Control
When you feel that "My life is out of control". There is nothing in it that I am in charge of. Everyone and everything around me rules my life. Except for eating... I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want it.
4. Feeling Unappreciated
Perhaps you've accomplished something exceptional and no one has noticed. You find yourself tempted to congratulate yourself by "treating" yourself to a binge.
There's nothing to do. Nowhere to go. Perhaps you feel lonely. There's nothing at home to occupy your mind or your hours. But there is a pantry full of comfort food that will kill some of that empty time.
If you fit into any one of these five profiles, try sitting down with a piece of paper and brainstorming to find alternative behaviors to eating. You may be surprised at the solutions you come up with...
Breaking the Addiction
It takes about 21 days to substitute a bad habit for a good one. Whenever you feel the temptation to eat out of your emotions, replace it with constructive activities such as doing housework, reading, watching television/movies, calling a friend or family, exercising amongst other things.
Recognizing the "Red Lights" with "HALT"
A good rule of thumb when you're lured into emotional eating is to remember to HALT.
"H" is for hungry Sometimes you can feel physical hunger when you're on the verge of an emotional eating binge. But rather than reaching for those comfort foods loaded with fats and sugar that trigger continuous eating (such as ice cream, chips, etc), make better food choices.
"A" is for anxious-It's easy to fall into emotional eating when you're worried and uptight. Rather than turning to food, do whatever works to calm your nerves. Call a friend, pray, or journal your feelings. Just don't reach into the refrigerator.
"L" is for lonely-Too often emotional eaters use food for companionship. Instead of comforting yourself with food, plug into a group of caring people who understand your problem.
"T" is for tired-When exhausted, either physically or emotionally, emotional eaters turn to food. Instead, get some rest or eat something good for you that won't trigger a binge.
Most importantly, unravel the reason why you overeat. Unless you get to the root of why you overeat you won't conquer your food addiction.