Many people tend to eat according to the state of their emotions. For example, if they are happy they will eat their favourite pizzas or burgers and if they are sad they will eat ice-cream or chocolate to lift their mood. Eating triggered by emotion and not hunger is often called emotional eating that can result in weight gain or inability to lose weight. Here, we are going to discuss ways in which you can avoid emotional eating.

1. Scale your hunger

Create a hunger scale for yourself to measure when you feel maximum hunger and when you feel the least. Whenever you eat anything mark the reason behind your eating and rate it on a scale of 1-10. The reason can be actual hunger, happiness, depression or just boredom. To start, always eat when you get a minimum of 5 points or say, 7. This will help in avoiding unnecessary emotional eating.

2. Focus on your food

Many people have a habit of reading the newspaper with their breakfast or watching TV while having their meal but these habits can easily lead to overeating. Researchers at the University of Liverpool in England found that people who swipe at their cell phones or stare at the TV while eating gobble down up to 50 percent more food than those who are actively engaged with their meals. Therefore, always eat without any distraction as it will help you in getting more satiety.

3. Eat Healthy and balanced meal

A balanced meal with the right ratio of protein, carbohydrates and fat provides you better satisfaction and protects you from emotional cravings for food. Opting for healthier food such as fresh fruits will not only satisfy you but the nutrition in it will even provide a steady source of energy that will get you through the day feeling focused and balanced. Healthy foods help manage your emotions better.

4. Wait before you eat

If you are not sure about what makes you eat, then make it a habit of waiting for 10 minutes before you eat. In these 10 minutes go and do some household chore or pending office work. If even after 10 minutes you want to eat, then you should go ahead and eat. Do the same before you get yourself a second serving. Research shows that it typically takes 20 minutes for your stomach to communicate a sense of fullness to the brain, so you may be refilling your plate despite being full.

5. Keep a mood and food diary

Keeping a track of your mood and food may help you in realizing your emotional eating habits. By knowing your trigger towards emotional eating it is much easier to eliminate or replace it with some healthier options.

6. Stock healthy food in your house

When junk food is not within your sight you will not think about it. Therefore, eliminate all the cookies, cakes, chips, ice cream, etc from your kitchen and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetable in your house. So, the next time you feel hungry and want to eat something you will automatically eat something healthy.

7. Control your eating portions

If you cannot control yourself while eating emotionally, then try to control your portions while eating. For example instead of going for a bigger bag of chips, choose a small bag. Or do not eat straight from the bag. Serve only a small portion of the chips out in a bowl and leave the rest. This might help you in avoiding the next portion. You certainly need to exercise some self control too.

8. Avoid Social Influence

People tend to eat more when they are out for social activities like parties, office get togethers, weddings, etc. Endless serving of tasty snacks with added distraction of social banter leads to mindless eating. People don’t pay attention to what they are eating & lose track of how much they have eaten, resulting in overeating.

9. Find an Alternative

“Dog is a man’s best friend” is a common saying to encourage people to have a pet dog. A study from the journal Hormones and Behaviour found that interacting with your four-legged friend releases oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that helps boost mood. In addition, when you run with your pet you burn extra calories and a daily routine of running for a minimum of 30 minutes can help you in managing your weight. But if you don’t have a pet find another alternative such as speaking to a friend, sibling or someone who makes you feel better when you feel emotionally low.

10. Follow a healthy lifestyle

A person who is physically strong, relaxed and well rested has a better ability to balance the emotional see-saw in life. Make daily exercise a priority in your life. Physical activity helps balance mood, improve energy levels, and it’s also a powerful stress reducer. Get at least 7- 8 hours of sleep every night. When you don’t get the sleep you need, you are more prone to mood swings that can trigger mindless eating.