All about emotional eating
For most people, food is more than just a source of fuel. We go out to restaurants to indulge in yummy food, we get excited about what we're going to eat when we get home from work and love the thought of cooking up a delicious meal or dessert. It's normal to see food as something to indulge in now and again, in particular when it comes to snacks, but it's a problem when you can't live without knowing you have access to comfort food.
Food can be like a comfort blanket. As long as you know you have access to it, you feel calm and it can relieve stress when you eat as a coping mechanism.
Part of beating emotional eating is retraining your brain to find other coping mechanisms for stress and no longer feel the need to turn to food as a coping aid.
Is there an alternative to food that can fix how you’re feeling? Think of other ways you can soothe the comfort you're trying to fix. Instead of filling the void with food, try an alternative like taking a long hot bath and reading a book, meditating or yoga, chatting with friends or family about your day, or finding a project to work on.
Change what you're eating. A good way to phase out your comfort eating is to change what you're eating to healthier choices. Eat mindfully and find foods that you still love the taste of that are much better for you than the usual comfort junk foods.
Tune into your emotions. To learn to listen to them, understand what they are saying, and respond to them appropriately. Your emotions are not to be ashamed of, but to honour. If you listen they will provide you with rich information you can use to make your life better in ways you never thought possible.
Eating during emotional times is a common issue. You are totally normal if you do it. Most people don’t actually gain awareness though, so they keep doing it. If you want to stop emotional eating, focus on the feelings, not the food.
If you can’t bear to face them in the moment, distract yourself temporarily with something other than food, and come back to them. When you are ready, journal or talk it out with a friend to see what you are feeling and what you want to do about it if anything.
With practice, you’ll be able to notice your emotions peaking, and respond proactively to them more easily, without eating first. But even if you did already try to chew them away, it’s never too late to practice responding.
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