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Believe it or not, no one actually likes emotional eating. More often than not, this behavior is simply a response to stress and often occurs during a time of personal or professional crisis. It can also take place during particularly stressful times, like the holidays. The inclination to eat emotionally is not an alien concept, however. Regardless, it’s important that you unlearn this habit ASAP. Here are a few ways to start the process right now.
Identify patterns between feelings and food.
Many of us have a go-to food craving when things get rough. You might enjoy ice cream or crave anything crunchy. No matter what you reach for, consider how you’re feeling when those cravings spring up. If you need help doing this, consider starting a food journal, in which you record what you eat, your hunger and fullness levels, and your emotions. Once you’re aware of why you reach for certain things, you can test out alternative coping tools.
Schedule snacks and meals.
Structuring your mealtime is important. That’s because, without a steady eating schedule, you might feel free to emotionally eat whenever the mood strikes. Eat meals around the same time each day, spaced about three to five hours apart. In addition to preventing mindless munching, settling into a consistent eating routine will help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels, as well as hunger hormones. Trust us – once you get on a schedule, you’ll feel the difference almost immediately!
Eat without distractions.
When it's time to sit down for a meal or healthy snack, don’t park yourself in front of the TV, like usual. Instead, sit at a table or other surface and enjoy your meal without checking your smartphone, turning on your computer, or flipping through a magazine. While it may feel awkward at first, doing this will allow you to tune into your body’s hunger and fullness cues. Mindful mealtime will also help you experience more satisfaction after eating.