Mindful eating and emotional eating are both eating practices, one that will lead to personal peace, harmony and health, and the other providing an opposite set of outcomes.
How Can You Stop Eating Emotionally by Being Mindful?
Emotional eating can also be termed stress eating. This is because it often occurs as a response to stress. However, any emotion, either positive or negative, can trigger the unhealthy eating behaviors that are attached to emotional eating. You may turn to unhealthy amounts of comfort food and junk food because you just bought your first new home, or got fired from a job, or some other emotion-packed event occurred in your life.
Mindful eating takes your emotions out of the equation. Have you ever had a parent, teacher or instructor tell you to keep your mind on what you were doing? They are telling you to be mindful of your actions.
When you focus and concentrate on whatever it is you are engaged in, your performance improves as do the results, and you limit the possibility of failure, injury and other possible negative outcomes. In the same way, mindful eating is nothing more than being mindful of the eating process. When you eat mindfully, you focus on the texture, smell, taste, feel and sound of your eating experience.
You truly recognize each bite and chew your food sufficiently and thoughtfully. You prepare your food without thinking about anything else. You enjoy the cooking process as much as eating.
Much of emotional eating is mindless. You are not thinking about the eating process or what you are eating. Instead, you are thinking about your feelings and emotions. Being mindful about the whole eating process doesn't allow for your emotions to take control. You can't give into positive or negative emotions, and develop negative eating behaviors because of those emotions, when you recognize and mindfully experience how, what, when and why you are eating.
Formula for Replacing Emotional Eating with Mindful Eating
The next time you are about to eat, or you are thinking about planning a meal, ask yourself the following questions.
WHY do I want to eat? What is the core reason, the truthful, honest reason, that I’m about to eat? Am I physically hungry? Am I eating out of habit? Am I eating simply because it is so certain time of day? Is there some deep down emotional need that is causing me to eat for comfort, or as a reward?
WHAT food am I about to eat? Is it comforting food to feed my emotions? Could I eat healthier food? If I am truly hungry and not emotionally eating, why not eat a healthy meal of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of junk food, comfort food or fast food?
The key to this process working is honesty. When you ask yourself, “Why am I eating,” you need to answer that question honestly. Don’t simply tell yourself that you are hungry. Ask yourself why you are hungry.
Is your hunger coming from your head or your heart instead of your stomach? This process involves being mindful of your moods before you eat, as well as being mindful of what you eat and why you are eating it. When you force yourself to be aware of the food you are eating, the time you are eating it and what the underlying reason is that you are eating, this mindfulness can reveal that you were about to eat because of an emotional need.
In this way, if you eat mindfully at every meal and snack, you rob unhealthy emotional eating from causing poor nutrition habits. This is how being mindful at mealtime can reduce, or eliminate, your emotional eating episodes, and the poor health conditions they lead to.