As bodybuilding typically relies on exacting training routines and restrictive diets to develop a lean and heavily-muscled body, it’s no wonder both professional and non-professional bodybuilders are at risk of disordered eating, research from Science Direct reveals. If you’re dealing with emotional eating, it can be challenging to start healing your relationship with food. Fortunately, however, there are a few simple ways you can put a stop to emotional eating and continue to lose fat, build muscle, and get lean.
Simplify and relax your meal plan
If you have an all-or-nothing approach to diet and nutrition, emotional eating will usually end up being a given. So, rather than hyper-focusing on calories and macros, adopt a simple and relaxed meal plan. For example, eat around 5-6 small meals a day to keep your blood sugar stable and prevent cravings for sugary foods. It also helps to eat predominantly wholefoods, while letting yourself indulge in your favorite treats when you truly crave them (around 10-20% of the time).
Learn how to beat cravings
Everyone gets cravings from time to time, and since cravings — defined as an intense psychological desire for a certain kind of food or flavor — begin in the mind, you can learn to beat them by adopting a more mindful approach. When your next craving hits, take stock of your mood and stress levels to try and get to the bottom of it (stress and boredom are often two major triggers). Instead of relieving these emotions with food, replace that negative habit with a healthier one — like taking a walk, listening to music, or chatting with a friend, for example. In some cases, however, appetizing aromas may be the reason behind your urge to eat. In this case, you can counter cravings with scented candles that trick your mind into thinking you’ve given into them. Lighting a vanilla-scented candle, for example, can satisfy your mind’s urge for vanilla ice cream.
Focus on training to build strength
It’s easy to let exercise become a form of punishment following bouts of overeating. But, if you let your workouts become solely about beating yourself to the ground and maximizing your calorie burn, you can get caught up in a harmful binge-exercise cycle. Fortunately, you can stop this by working on shifting your mindset. Rather than using workouts as a punishment, focus on using them to become the strongest version of yourself — remember appearance plays only a small role in being fit, strong, and healthy.
By training to build strength and improve performance, you’ll not only learn to appreciate your body as the amazing machine it is, but also start to enjoy working out again. In time, you’ll also learn to treat food as fuel and not a problem you need to solve. Your focus will shift from stressing about calorie restriction for weight loss to fueling your body with the right nutrition to optimize performance.
Putting It Together: Smart Ways To Put A Stop To Emotional Eating For Good
Don’t let emotional eating sabotage your fitness goals. By simplifying your meal plan, beating cravings, and focusing on training to build strength, you can heal your relationship with food and stay in great shape for good.