How To Overcome Emotional Eating- Holly Snowdon

Apr 18, 2019 | Blog, Nutrition, Wellness

Do you feel out of control over what you’re putting into your mouth? Do you turn to food for happiness or when you’re bored and not hungry? If the answer is yes, there’s a chance you’re an emotional eater. And I can assure you that you are by no means alone.

There are more emotional eaters in the world than not.

So what is emotional eating and why do so many of us do it?

It’s safe to say, we don’t just eat for survival and when we’re hungry.

Many of us turn to food when we’re experiencing emotions that we don’t know how to handle. We subconsciously think that food will lift our mood or eliminate a negative emotion, when what we’re really craving is love and attention (whether it’s self-love or seeking the love of another).

However, repeatedly turning to food to fill an emotional void – especially convenience foods like moreish packets of cookies or crisps – is damaging for us both psychologically and physically. Whilst you might feel momentarily satisfied, in the long run, it won’t provide us with the type of pleasure or happiness that we expect it to deliver. In fact, more often than not, we’re left with feelings of guilt or frustration and in extreme cases, self-loathing – completely the opposite of what we intended!

If this resonates with you, please don’t beat yourself up. Turning to food for comfort has become ingrained in us for most of our lives. And it doesn’t help that we are constantly bombarded with clever, food related marketing campaigns. Emotional eating is even reinforced in TV and films – like when Bridget Jones reaches for a tub of Ben and Jerry’s to drown her sorrows – It is a behavioural pattern that is hard to ignore and even harder to break.

However, at the end of the day, we need food to survive and as it is a vital part of our everyday lives, it is important that we establish a healthy relationship with it. Of course food is something that should be celebrated. It nourishes and energises us and is often the heart of a special social occasion or something that is shared with loved ones. It shouldn’t however, be used as an emotional crutch.

So what can we do to break the habit?

Don’t despair, there is good news! There are a number of useful tools we can use to break the vicious cycle of comfort eating! Take a look at some examples listed below:

Finding alternative ways to reward yourself

From childhood we are often ‘treated’ to sugar-filled goods, whether it was to reward us for doing something good or to cheer us up when something goes wrong. This ingrained behaviour pattern is hard to break. However, there are so many ‘non-food’ related ways we can treat ourselves, so take a look at some of our examples below:

– Call a loved one.
– Go to a yoga class (or do some yoga at home).
– Get outside! Whether it’s walking the dog or admiring the flowers in the garden being amongst nature (away from a screen!) is one of the most glorious and soul-nourishing things you can do.
– Pamper yourself, whether it’s painting your nails with a fresh coat of nail varnish or treating yourself to an at home facial, we all deserve to be pampered from time to time.
– Get creative (doodling, painting, writing playing an instrument, whatever you fancy!)
– Get absorbed in a novel or magazine.

Connect with your body

Part of emotional eating is being disconnected from your body and often occurs in a mindless place. Really connecting with your body and tuning into your hunger is key to overcoming this. Are you eating because you’re hungry or is it out of boredom? If you really are hungry, when you sit down to eat, make sure you’re doing so mindfully. By removing all digital devices (including the TV!) whilst we’re eating, it’s much easier to focus on the sensory delights of food – i.e. the taste, smell and texture of the food we’re eating. Whilst enjoying and savouring each mouthful, we’re much more likely to feel satisfied and ‘at one’ with our bodies.

Positive affirmations

Positive affirmations (the practice of positive thinking and self-empowerment) are amazing tools that can help to quieten your brain and shift the focus to where you want it to be. They can be key to transforming your relationship with food, and the best thing is, they are totally free!

Whatever affirmation or mantra you choose, they should be thought of as a tool to developing a more kind and loving relationship with yourself and, when it comes to food, they can alter our thoughts and actions from negative to positive ones.

If you’re in need of some inspiration, take a look at some of our examples below? Or come up with your own- whatever feels right for you!
Examples of positive affirmations for a more positive relationship with food:

– I am listening to my body and nourishing it with the nutritional goodness that it deserves
– My body deserves to move comfortably.
– My mind has a strong and healthy connection to my body
– I have a healthy relationship with food
– I respect and nurture my body
– I am in full control of my impulses

So whilst this habit might not disappear overnight, I truly believe that these tips will help you on your way to a healthy and happy relationship with food. Why not give them a try today!

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