How to Avoid Emotional Eating When You Have Kids Who Make Your Crazy

When you’re trying to manage your weight, one of the biggest challenges many people face is overcoming the urge to eat for emotional reasons, rather than for physical sustenance. “Eating your feelings” can be a major contributor to excess weight gain and is a seriously difficult habit to break. The fact that the process isn’t easy, however, doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Even when you have little ones in the house, there are ways to work on your emotional eating habits and turn them into more healthful choices.

Know Your Triggers

The first step to breaking an emotional eating habit is to understand why it happens in the first place. Figuring out the situations and feelings that spur you to grab a snack when your body knows it isn’t hungry can help you avoid that behavior in the future. Think about the times when you eat as an emotional response and the situations that lead up to them. If there’s a common thread or two, you’ve discovered some of your triggers. When triggering situations arise, make a point of reminding yourself that food shouldn’t be used for comfort.

Enjoy a Parent’s Day Out

Every once in a while, it’s worth it to spring for a sitter and enjoy a day to yourself. When you’re in the house with children day in and day out, it’s easy to fall into their eating patterns and to choose their comfort-food fare over more healthful options. Getting out of the house and into the world to enjoy a hobby or simply enjoying a few kid-free moments can not only help you manage your stress, it can also help you step away from the chicken nuggets and hot dogs your kids are noshing on.

Question Your Cravings

When you feel a food craving arise, it’s a good idea to ask yourself whether you’re actually in need of food or if you’re really just in search of comfort. Before reaching for something to eat, examine your motives. If you’re stressed out, depressed or angry, it may be better to wait out the craving to make sure that it’s a need for nutrition instead of a need for comfort.

Avoid Eating out of Boredom

While it may be a dull one, boredom is still an emotion. It’s also one that can push you into a pint of ice cream in the blink of an eye. Downtime is rare when you’re a parent, but the lulls in activity that leave you bored can be the most dangerous to your resolutions to eat more healthily. When you’re enjoying a bit of peace, it’s better to spend it doing something constructive than having a snack.

Try to Manage Your Stress Level

One of the most common reasons for people to eat as an emotional response is stress. Managing stress is a challenge for everyone, but there are ways you can reduce the pressures in your life from time to time. Don’t let stress take over your life, and when you are stressed, make a conscious effort not to smother it with food. Yoga, a relaxing massage or even some quick breathing exercises can be a useful tool.

Think About the Behavior You’re Modeling

If all else fails, try to keep in mind that everything you do sets an example for your children. When you move towards the pantry to cover your negative emotions, you’re modeling the concept of food as comfort to your children and potentially instilling in them the same battle that you’re fighting. Think of your kids’ needs and the lives you’d like for them to have before you reach for an edible source of soothing.

Keep a Food Journal

When you’re chasing kids around the house, managing their schedules as well as your own and trying to keep up with the demands of a busy household, the idea of adding another daily task to your plate may be a repellent one. Taking a moment to jot down what you eat and how you were feeling when you ate it, however, can force you to think about the foods you consume and the motives behind your eating. You can also discover more of your triggers in order to build a more effective defense system against your own internal urge to cover negative emotion with food.

There are plenty of methods for controlling emotional eating, but the most effective one is a plan tailored to your individual needs. You may also find that reaching out to a support system like Overeaters Anonymous or even just an Internet message board community can help you feel as if you’re not alone in your fight.

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