You're going about your day when the urge to eat sets in. Sure, you might be physically hungry, but it's possible you're seeking a security blanket to alleviate stress. Or perhaps you're just bored. Use "The Broccoli Test" to identify emotional hunger and stop it from ruining your diet.
There's a reason that "comfort food" exists. When you're stressed, your brain seeks ways to alleviate these stressors by eating certain foods, resulting in unwanted calories. If this weren't bad enough, the act of self-medicating with comfort food also increases your body's propensity to store abdominal fat, leading to greater risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
By giving into emotional cravings, we just prolong the problem. According to fitness coach and founder of My Body Tutor Adam Gilbert:
Emotionally eating only suppresses feelings. It doesn't change them. It's like an annoying door to door salesmen…if we don't answer the door, they will keep knocking. We might as well answer it sooner rather than later. Until we answer the door we'll just keep suppressing emotions.
Adam suggests "The Broccoli Test" to help you differentiate between physical and emotional hunger. You may have heard variations of this -- the apple test, the fruit test, etc. -- basically, ask if you'd eat a healthier food. According to Adam:
Ask yourself "would I eat broccoli right now?" If you answer "yes" then you are physically hungry. Go ahead and eat.
If you answer "no" then you're emotionally hungry. You are not actually hungry for food. You are hungry for something else (stress relief, a distraction, a quick escape, etc). The idea is that when we're physically hungry any food is appealing. If the thought of vegetables doesn't sound appealing we're not physically hungry.
For more details on the broccoli test, as well as further mindfulness strategies, check out the link below.
The Broccoli Test: How to Stop Emotional Eating [My Body Tutor]