Emotional eating is when someone eats to cope with negative emotions, such as stress, anxiety, or sadness, rather than eating in response to physical hunger.
Emotional eating is a common phenomenon that can lead to overeating, weight gain, and negative feelings about oneself. When someone is emotionally eating, they often reach for comfort foods, such as high-fat and high-sugar snacks, to soothe the emotions they are experiencing.
The relief we get from emotional eating is only temporary. It is often followed by feelings of guilt and shame, which can continue the cycle of emotional eating. To break the cycle of emotional eating, it's important to develop healthier coping mechanisms for negative emotions. Exercise, meditation, talking to a trusted friend or seeking support from a therapist may help.
It is possible to overcome emotional eating and develop a healthier relationship with food. It just takes time and practice!
Being more mindful of your eating habits can help! Being mindful involves paying attention to physical hunger cues and exercise such as eating more slowly (without distractions!) and being aware of textures, tastes and smells.
Increasing dopamine levels in the brain can help curb emotional eating! Here are some great non-food related activities that naturally increase dopamine levels in the brain.
Regular exercise can improve your mood, motivation, and focus. It’s always great to get outdoors in the fresh air if you can! Just 10minutes of walking can really make a difference.
Listen to music
Listening to music you enjoy can really give those dopamine levels a boost. And the great thing is you can do it anywhere! Pop in those headphones and go for a walk or sit comfortably at home listening to the quiet hum of the radio.
Practicing meditation not only increases dopamine levels in the brain but it is a great way to help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Meditation helps shift attention away from negative thoughts and provide you with a calming refocus. Never done it before? No worries! There are some great resources online including some simple breathing techniques to get you started.
Spending time with friends or family members can increase dopamine levels in the brain. Socialising with peers can be a great distraction technique but can also be rewarding and pleasurable too.
When we complete a task, big or small, we can experience a sense of achievement. This can help motivate us to keep working towards our goals. Creating a tick list or a to do list and crossing off tasks can feel hugely satisfying. Just remember to keep the tasks small and make sure that they are achievable.
Engaging in creative activities such as drawing, painting, or writing (whatever you enjoy) can increase dopamine levels in the brain, boosting feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
Go get out for that walk! Sunlight exposure is a great way to increase dopamine levels. Getting outside can improve your mood and give your energy levels a boost.
Learning something new
Learning something new can increase dopamine levels as the brain receives a reward for acquiring new knowledge. So go on try that thing you have always wanted!
I hope you find some of these dopamine releasing activities useful. Just putting in place one of the above as a distraction for a few moments can help reduce emotional eating and help create a new healthier habit.
The information and advice within this blog are not intended to replace any medical advice, with all our clients we seek to address their individual needs and circumstances - this includes any adaptations required for long- or short-term health conditions and medications. Please seek medical advice if you have any health conditions before considering a lifestyle change. If you would like to address any of the content of this blog, please email us.