Dear Dr. Eugenia, 

I have a problem with eating when I’m not hungry. I have struggled with this since I was in my teens and at times it was manageable, but it’s gotten worse, especially in the last year. I have two small kids at home, and trying to work on my own part-time business, so my life is hectic. I have tried all kinds of diets and have lost most of my extra weight over the years, but some of it has now come back, because I seem to eat all the time. I find myself opening the refrigerator for ice cream or a piece of cheese or looking at the pantry when I have things to do. I feel overwhelmed and stressed on a daily basis. My girlfriend says I have an emotional eating problem and I need to set my mind right when it comes to stress. Any advice?

— No more eating my stress

Dear “No more ..” 

Many people, particularly women, find themselves in a never ending emotional eating cycle. You are eating as a distraction, from all your tasks also trying to sooth your feelings of stress and overwhelm. Perhaps you feel anxious about all the things you have to do. Many people have had trouble with emotional eating since the pandemic begun. 

It has to do with changes in life style, being at home a lot, added responsibilities, anxiety and depression. 

There are two kinds of hunger — real or physical hunger and head or emotional hunger. This hunger comes all of a sudden when a craving hits, while real, physical hunger, builds up over a period of time and it starts with those signals in your stomach. 

Sometimes emotional eating is used as a reward for something hard we’ve done, or as a distraction from doing something we don’t want to do.

Here are some ways to manage the emotional eating.

• Ask yourself before you go to the kitchen: Am I hungry? Am I angry? Am I overwhelmed? Am I anxious? Am I bored? Am I tired? Listen to your answer. It will let you know, what is really happening where are you at emotionally at that moment.

• Drink a glass of water and take some deep breaths. Stretch and walk in place. It will help you feel better.

• Brush your teeth. It will deter you from eating.

• Eat three meals a day to keep your energy up and to avoid physical hunger and overeating . Make sure that whatever food you are eating, you enjoy and stop eating when satisfied. Remove all guilt from various foods. Eat everything you want in moderation.

• Stop the self -sabotage . Keep a positive mindset. Treat yourself with compassion , kindness and patience. Do not beat yourself up if you have a slip up. Guilt and shame exacerbate emotional eating.

• Make a plan. Create a list with some enjoyable things you like to do. They can be a positive distraction from emotional eating. Call a friend, read a favorite book or go outside. Give yourself a break and know that a setback is temporary. You can still move forward. If you find it difficult to do that by yourself, ask for help. 

Meditation, yoga, Emotional Freedom Techniques and TAPPING NLP and clinical hypnosis can help you. During the hypnotherapy session, people go through a state where they can relax and are able to make a positive shift in the subconscious, that results in change of habits.

Dr Eugenia Andrews, PhD, CH, EFT, CI, is a Life Success Coach , and an International board certified clinical hypnotherapist, who has been working for over 30 years with children, teen and adults. She can be reached at wellnesscoachingtx@yahoo.com.

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