How to stop mindless snacking and emotional eating

Anya Meyerowitz
Photo credit: Peter Dazeley - Getty Images

From Red Online

Emotional eating and mindless snacking can occur at anytime, but particularly during the current situation in the world, it can feel harder than ever to resist the siren call of the fridge or eat away at all the fruits of our baking labour.

You only need to glance at Twitter, or the news, to see and hear people talking about their uncontrollable urge to snack, their increased number of visits to the kitchen and the endless photos of being baking banana bread, cookies and cakes.

Being inside more, dealing with an array of emotions — some of which we may not have experienced before — and losing our long-followed sense of routine, are all factors that can contribute to us turning to food to comfort ourselves.

This is called 'emotional eating' and we all do it at some point or another. But what if there was a way we could curb our urge to reach for the snacks when we hit boredom? Or make healthier choices in the evening, so we don't emerge from lockdown feeling uncomfortable in our own skin?

Well, though it sounds hard to do, there's actually a really simple tweak you can make to your weekly routine that has been proven to stress levels, encourage healthier eating choices and lessen the chance of emotional eating.

It's probably something you've already dabbled in from time to time, but perhaps haven't made part of your daily routine. Yes, we're talking about yoga.

Benefits of yoga

Yoga has long been touted for it's mental health benefits, as well as being responsible for creating the long, lean bodies of many of your favourite celebrities. But now new information has come to light regarding it's ability to not just provide an hour of weekly zen, but also prevent you from consuming too much fast food, control your emotional eating and increase the likelihood of partaking in general physical activity.

How does it work?

Well, according to The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, since yoga is a known stress-reliever, practising this on a regular basis means having less cortisol (the stress hormone) roaming around your body, which in turn helps manage the way we usually would turn to food as a comfort at the end of a long day, or when we feel a low point during the afternoon. By having less cortisol in our system, we change the way we react to stressful situations.

'Yoga is successful for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviours. Those that partake in yoga are less likely to snack, have less frequent fast food consumptions and greater management of emotional eating.'

So, by re-wiring our brains to use other coping mechanisms to deal with our emotions, we'll also make healthier choices when we do eat and stick to designated meal times, rather than panic snacking in search of a serotonin boost or a 'quick-fix'.

The results?

By adding yoga into our weekly (or daily) routine, we could potentially stop snacking and make healthier choices when feeling emotionally drained. Subsequently losing weight, regaining some control and feeling lighter all round.

Plus, unlike lots of other workouts you might be seeing online, you don't need lots of space to practice yoga, nor do you need any equipment.

You can find some of the best, free yoga classes streaming online here.

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