Emotional eating is very common. We’ve all done it. You know, pulling up a chair at the dinner table to eat a big bowl of feelings.
Emotional eating can happen when you’re stressed, bored, sad, or happy (yes, even when you’re happy!). And I deal with it too. Maybe you’ve heard my story where I’ve confessed to saying my feelings OUT LOUD just as I was about to emotionally eat. It sounds silly (and ok, no one else is around), but it definitely made a difference in how appealing that food became after I addressed the real reason I wanted it.
That kind of awareness leads to control. Control leads to change. With a little practice, awareness can help to prevent bad decisions before they happen.
The 3 Ns are going to be key if you have trouble with emotional eating, so pay attention! The 3 Ns are Notice, Name, and Nourish.
Notice & Name:
Am I physically hungry?
If you find yourself thinking about or mindlessly reaching for a food, I want you to ask yourself, am I physically hungry? Wait 10 minutes.
If your answer is NO → Ask yourself, what emotion am I feeling right now?
Get specific. (I feel bad or sad doesn’t tell you what you need to know.)
What problem is the food solving?
Once you’ve identified the emotion, determine the solution the food provides for you. Is it a distraction? Is it providing comfort?
Nourish: What is a better solution to this problem?
Take that emotion or solution the food is providing and think about better solutions.
Create a Nourish List with other activities besides food that provide the same solution or fills the same emotion. Keep that list handy so you can refer to it when needed. Here are a few examples below.
Feeling stressed → Activities that make me calm and relaxed
Feeling unhappy → Activities that make me happy
Calling an old friend
Walking my dog
Using the 3 Ns to address emotional eating can be tough, but once you allow yourself to recognize and fully feel you will be able to break out of the habit with a little practice.
Give it a try and just remember that it will take some practice! If you don’t get it the first time, keep trying!