The best tips to combat anxiety to eat

There are those who use food as a way to deal with those situations that generate anxiety. How to deal with this situation? Find out!

Last update: October 12, 2021

Right now, many people are looking for ways to combat anxiety about eating. This problem, also known as “emotional hunger”, has become the trigger for other health disorders, like being overweight and obese. Is it affecting you too?

At first, feeling the need to eat something in the middle of a difficult situation may seem normal. However, when this habit occurs frequently, both health and body weight and quality of life are affected.

Anxiety to eat: symptoms that help you recognize it

As explained in a study published in International Journal of Eating Disorders, anxiety to eat is a tendency to eat excessively in response to negative emotions.

It often goes hand in hand with concerns about body weight, since most people tend to be overweight or obese as a result of this problem.

In turn, the fact of having a weight above the appropriate influences difficulties in controlling this behavior. Frustration at not being able to lose weight, added to self-esteem problems and lack of self-control, are factors that worsen this condition.

And how does it manifest itself? Its main symptoms are the following:

  • Need to turn to food every time you go through an episode of sadness or overwhelm.
  • Binge eating, that is, compulsively eating food to the point of choking.
  • Eating until you are excessively full.
  • Feeling guilty or distressed after eating.
  • Chopping between meals in an uncontrolled way.
  • Become obsessive about food. Either think about what time the next meal will be, or plan future healthy meals to compensate for the excesses.
  • Make nightly visits to the refrigerator.

Tips to combat anxiety about eating

Learning to recognize triggers for food cravings is the first step in fighting it. In this sense, It is necessary to identify those situations in which the uncontrollable desire to eat appears. For example, after going through conflicts in a relationship, during long working hours, faced with new challenges, due to financial pressures, among others.

This is important as it allows you to recognize the problem and address it appropriately. Sometimes it is necessary to seek the help of a psychologist, as there are not always enough resources to deal with these triggers of anxiety. Anyway, it is possible to implement some strategies.

The anxiety to eat can occur at any time, leading to eating food in unusual places.

Keep a food diary

One of the strategies proposed by professionals at the Mayo Clinic to combat anxiety about eating is keep a daily record of the food you eat. In this sense, the ideal thing is that you write down what you eat, how much you eat and when you do it.

The objective of this journal is to identify the triggers of emotional eating. In fact, the information collected can help you when you consult your doctor or nutritionist.

To do physical exercise

Regular physical activity has many benefits for physical and mental health. Whether walking, jogging, going to the gym or practicing any sport, its effects are achieved both in the short and long term.

An article published through BMC Health Services Research conclude that physical exercise programs are a viable anxiety treatment option. Its practice helps to stop the secretion of cortisol and norepinephrine, hormones related to anxiety.

It also contributes to the release of serotonin and endorphins, known to induce a state of well-being. Incidentally, this habit is positively associated with healthy eating patterns and with the regulation of ghrelin, also called hunger hormone.

Follow a healthy diet

A healthy diet is one that provides all the essential nutrients in their proper measure. It’s not about making food group restrictions. On the contrary, it is to include “a little of everything”, but being aware of the importance of choosing quality food.

In general, be sure to consume the following:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Nuts and seeds.
  • Lean meats
  • Whole grains.
  • Vegetables.

Secondly, try to limit the intake of ultra-processed, fried food, soda, soft drinks, pastries industrial, ice cream, sweets or any product of poor nutritional quality that may represent a “temptation”.

Also, respect meal times and moderate portions. If you are going to have meals between meals, opt for snacks healthy, such as fruits, plain yogurt, and nuts.

To meditate

Learning to meditate can be quite helpful when it comes to fighting anxiety about eating. This practice not only helps to recognize emotions, but also induces a state of relaxation that helps control emotions.

In turn, as a study shared in Eating Behaviors, programs like mindfulness They help in the treatment of binge eating disorder and emotional eating.

You don’t need to be an expert to reap its benefits. While it may seem tedious at first to practice, it becomes a simple habit over time. On sites like YouTube, there are free programs to learn how to meditate. Too there are mobile applications and online courses.

Meditating can be an important help in stopping the urges that cause excessive hunger.

Other recommendations

Beyond what has been discussed, there are other simple ways to deal with anxiety about eating. For example, the following:

  • Increase water consumption: This not only keeps you hydrated, but also helps to keep you feeling full.
  • Eat plenty of fiber: This nutrient maintains good digestive health and, as a post in Appetite, It is useful to control energy intake and promote satiety.
  • Control unforeseen events and setbacks: the fast-paced lifestyle is a very recurring trigger for anxiety and emotional hunger. It is important to learn to manage time and the unforeseen events of the day. Planning tasks is a good idea to optimize time. In addition, if something extraordinary happens, it is convenient to postpone the less relevant requirements for the next day.
  • Work on self-esteem: This is a key pillar in reducing anxiety levels and the urge to overeat. Strong self-esteem comes hand in hand with more security, self-confidence, and self-control. To work on it, it is worth identifying the virtues, applauding small achievements and spending time with yourself.

Are you trying to combat anxiety to eat?

Responding to negative emotions with food can have several consequences for physical and mental health. It’s not just about being overweight and obese, but about other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disorders, and depression.

So it is a problem that should not be overlooked, even if it seems normal at first. For many people, the best option is to seek psychological help, since a professional can help identify triggers for anxiety and the best solutions.

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