The Missing Column of Your Food Diary
You may get an A for a food log that stays within your daily caloric needs, but what about a happy face? Emotional eating and overeating go hand in hand. So what happens when you deviate from the healthy eating plan because of your emotions? Did a disagreement with a co-worker contribute to your ordering fries instead of fruit, was a talk with your mother cause for an extra cup of ice cream? To get a better gage of why you eat the way you do, keep a record of your emotions before, during and after a meal. You don’t have to keep a pen alongside your fork, but it’s important to understand how you feel so that emotional eating doesn’t get out of control.
We all overeat from time to time, but a new study suggests obese women may be less emotionally aware. A sample of 94 obese women and 56 control participants were asked about their emotional awareness, eating habits, and parental control. Obese women were more likely to use emotional eating as a strategy to regulate emotions. A food diary that allows you to voice your feelings throughout the day could help you practice emotional awareness. As you become more in tune with your emotions, you can pick out emotional eating. Eventually your awareness will inform ways to adjust so that you use food less often to cope with emotional stress.
Appetite Awareness When You're Upset
You may know when you’re hungry, but are you mindfully eating to the point where you know when you’re full? After you’re able to link how your emotions play into your food choices, monitor your appetite before, during, and after your meal. A small study published in the journal Eating Disorders found participants who were taught to identify and respond to internal appetite signals improved their binge-eating symptoms. Along with your emotions, monitor your hunger throughout your meals. Keeping a record of this for certain meals at certain portions may even help you recognize when you are unusually more or less full while eating the same meal. Try to rate your hunger on a scale from 1-10 each time you eat.
Review and Reflect
The point of a food diary that marries your hunger to your emotions is to help you reflect on how to eat meals independent of your emotions. A stressful day could spell trouble for your plans to eat healthy, but that doesn't always have to be the case. This type of food diary is not meant to be kept for a long period of time. Rather, give it a week or two and you should see a pattern of overeating or eating certain types of food. Once you make the connection, it's up to you to address your emotional needs. Give yourself time to adjust to new ways to deal with stress. Reviewing your food diary later on can help you make better decisions food-wise and eventually you'll have more power over your emotions.
What emotions trigger certain food cravings?