How to put the brakes on 'emotional eating'

Emotional eating can pack on the kilos.
Emotional eating can pack on the kilos.

Many of us make choices about whether to eat healthy or not-so-healthy foods based on our mood.

When a bad mood strikes, we often tend to reach for junk food. And that can be a recipe for disaster when you're trying to lose weight.

Ways to brighten your mood

Here's how to keep your emotions from ruining your diet.

First, it helps to think about the future rather than just that moment. Refocus on the long-term health benefits of good nutrition, and remind yourself how much more important they are than any short-lived comfort from food.

Next, look for ways to brighten your mood that don't involve eating at all. If you're blue, call a buddy who knows how to motivate you. Or watch a favourite movie. If you're nervous or angry, release your emotions by working out to your favourite music mix or taking a short run.

According to a previous Health24 article, workers who sleep well also make healthier food choices.

Good food choices

Healthy lifestyle habits help insulate you from bad moods and the emotional eating that often follows. Boost your mood on a daily basis with regular exercise and with a few minutes of relaxation, like taking a warm bath, meditating or reading a book.

Click on this link for 10 ways to beat stress eating.

Using a food journal can help you look for causes of a bad mood, like stress, and show behaviour patterns you can then change. For example, if giving a presentation at work always has you reaching for a candy bar, be prepared with a healthier snack, like a small container of nuts and dried fruits.

These positive steps will improve your outlook and, in turn, help you make good food choices and stick to your diet.

Image credit: iStock

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