If you are reading this perhaps like me you know you are an emotional eater. Or maybe you are like some of my friends who simply don’t understand how or why we let emotions drive our eating habits. So let’s start with a bit of a 101 on emotional eating.
Why do people emotionally eat?
There are many factors. Sometimes it is as a result of an example they were set growing up. On occasion it can be because of external factors related to food. Sometimes it can even be a form of self punishment. Often it is linked with the physical reactions our bodies are trained to provide when we eat.
For me my emotionally eating stems from a few places. I am pretty sure having had a mum who for most of her younger life was very athletic, but in later years was dangerously overweight I must have seen some unhealthy relationships with food when I was young. I also know that I find great comfort in food. I definitely love the heady highs of a wonderful sugar kick. The challenge is that the feel good feeling is often gone as soon as I swallow.
There are lots of triggers for my emotional eating, stress, tiredness or hormones are just a few I am well aware of. Science has proven that we often eat more if we are tired and we can crave different things depending on the chemical make up of our bodies.
I am still learning how to tackle my emotional eating bit here are some tricks I am finding have helped.
Don’t be Hard on Yourself.
Being hard on yourself definitely will not help. We all have unhealthy moments with food. Understanding why and letting it go is the best approach you can take. If you are an emotional eater the likelihood is you have been walking that road for a long time you can’t expect it to change overnight.
Being kind to yourself is so important. All you want to aim for is improvement. You can’t expect to flick a switch and just stop being an emotional eater.
Ask yourself why?
If you notice yourself about to embark on a binge. Ask yourself why. What are you feeling in that moment? What do you hope the food will do? At first just recognising you are being emotionally triggered to eat is a great step. As you become more self aware the goals is to change the way you act when you notice these triggers.
Finding other rewards or supports is really important. Keep a list and every time you think of something that could be used as an alternative add it to the list. It could be anything from going for a walk, taking a bath, singing a song. What ever works for you. It is really important we show ourselves self care and learning to do that with other methods will help you meet that underlying need without the food.
Basic Healthy Eating Tips
Try water first – often we think we are hungry when we are actually thirsty.
Slow down – Eating fast is a healthy eaters enemy. Our brain can not process the full signals as fast as we can eat so we end up eating well past our limits.
Try smaller portions – Before I would take the tub of Ben and Jerry’s to the sofa now I always take a bowl with a couple of scoops. Yes sometimes I go back for more but sometimes I can’t be bothered.
Practice mindful eat – don’t eat on the run, sit down, enjoy your food, put your fork down between mouthfuls.
Learn to better control your Emotions.
If you are an emotional eater this might be one of the hardest but most important points to tackle. You need to get a better hold on your emotions, you need to deal with the things that keep triggering you. Easier said than done I know. I have found meditation a great approach to help level off my feelings. It is not a quick fix though and takes lots of practice.