I consider myself a sort of expert on emotional eating. My family and I emigrated to NY from Sicily when I was three years old. Just being Sicilian says enough. When I was fifteen years old, I decided to become a vegetarian after talking with some animal rights activists in Greenwich Village. When I told my mom I was becoming a vegetarian, she cried. That story still makes me laugh. That’s emotional.
Through the years and my experience in the health industry, I have learned that the quality of food we put into our bodies is so important. Eating smart, eating right and having a plan are the best ways to help with emotional eating. You don’t have to be sad to eat emotionally! You can do it when you are happy too!
When I have clients with weight loss goals, I like to discuss things they like to eat and actually have them write an uninhibited eating journal for a few days so I can analyze their emotional triggers, food triggers or bad food choices. Once clients become aware of their triggers they generally make smarter choices if they are willing to make changes in their eating habits .
Here are a few tips on overcoming emotional eating.
1. Drink a huge cup of your favorite non caloric drink like HINT water or Herbal tea, iced or hot. It has to feel like a treat. For me that is a cold bottle of HINT fizz (blackberry) or cold iced green tea.
2. Have fruits and veggies chopped up and nearby when you have that urge for food that won’t go away.
3. I always have an all natural protein bar, which contains chocolate. If chocolate is not your thing, try a different flavor. If I really feel like eating a sleeve of cookies (you know what I mean), I reach for that bar. Eating that bar makes you feel like you ate something “bad,” but in actuality, you saved yourself from eating so many excessive calories.
4. How about saying “NO! I won’t do it!” And finding a distraction. That distraction could be making a phone call, paying bills, reading a great article or book, or even going for a walk.
5. When you are reaching for that unnecessary snack or extra portion, ask yourself if you are really hungry.
6. Chew gum.
7. Exercise. Why not try a spin class, a Zumba class, an outdoor bootcamp or go for a long walk or hike instead of going out to lunch or dinner with friends. Some gyms even offer happy hour classes. Burn the calories with your friends instead of drinking or eating them.
8. Know your enemy. When you educate yourself on your triggers and reasons for emotional eating, chances are your new found knowledge will guide you in a better direction. Especially if you are considering weight loss.
9. Write down how many calories you eat when you are eating emotionally. Remember! You don’t have to be sad to eat emotionally. You can be at lunch with your friends, in your living room, at work or at a party. Your body needs to consume 3,500 calories to gain a pound or it can expend 3,500 calories to lose a pound. Compare that number to your excessive caloric intake if you are eating emotionally. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth it.
10. Don’t deprive yourself. Feelings of deprivation can trigger an emotional response to food. I always tell my clients that sometimes you have to live and splurge. Chances are the splurging won’t be as drastic if you know you can have your occasional moments.
What helps you combat emotional eating?
Marisella Villano BS, MPS, CFT holds a bachelors in science, a masters in gerontology (the study of aging) and is the founder and president of her company MARVLfit. She has been a certified fitness trainer and certified spinning instructor in the Hamptons for over 15 years. Her training principles are based on smart training, helping to keep the body injury free while developing a great level of fitness. In 2014, she decided to open an indoor cycling and fitness studio, MARVILfit, which has been greatly welcomed by her community! When she is not training clients, teaching classes or running her business, she is outside running or spending time with her husband and two boys.