Overeating to block out painful or difficult emotions or to offer a psychological salve, is often referred to as comfort eating. Do you eat when you are upset or stressed? Or do you find you reach for food when you are uncomfortable, anxious or bored? Emotions can trigger eating patterns which have nothing to do with hunger, nutrition or food! However, the real problem with this emotional eating is that it can impact your weight and health.
We all link how we feel with food one way or another. Remember when you wanted to celebrate with a slap-up dinner or retreated with a carton of ice-cream during a time you felt blue? We all have a favourite comfort food that makes us feel warm and secure inside. However, when you are eating to feed an emotional rather than physical hunger you are not going to stop when you are full-up necessarily. If you recognize the signs or see them in someone close, there are steps you can take to remedy emotional eating:
Recognize you are feeding your feelings – If you are putting on weight or you always try and eat more than you know you need then take a step back and be honest about your relationship with food. Don’t try and bend the truth with yourself but really be objective about whether emotions are affecting your appetite.
Don’t blame yourself – If you recognize signs of emotional eating the last thing you want to do is to make yourself feel bad, whether you feel guilty, angry or disappointed with yourself. This will only exacerbate the problem and your emotional eating could increase in intensity.
Look at triggers and behavioral patterns – What is happening in your psyche and emotions when you eat and before you eat. Do you see any patterns, perhaps connected with people, situations or even locations? Sometimes a stressful situation can trigger adrenaline and this in turn can compel you to react in some way which can be linked with cravings and addictions.
Be aware of what stresses are competing in your life – Regardless of issues surrounding emotional eating, it is always worthwhile taking stock and looking at the stresses and strains that you are dealing with in your life at any given time. Awareness doesn’t make problems disappear but gives you a better handle on knowing how to dissipate negative energy and get your world into perspective.
Get professional help if you need it – Emotional eating is not about weakness; it is a recognized psychiatric condition that you may find easier to work through with support. Counseling and expert fitness and nutritional advice could be a solution to explore.
Think before you eat – By pausing before you do eat you give your mind time to think and also let an emotional urge pass. You are then able to bring a mindful approach to your eating patterns and avoid mindless grazing which is rooted in deeper feelings.
Change your lifestyle – Exercise is a great de-stresser and getting active can really help bring about some mental clarity. Adjusting areas of your life has a knock-on effect and if you make a concerted effort to initiate change in your fitness regime this is undoubtedly going to make you question and change how and what you eat.
Feel positive and combat unhealthy eating patterns with a good nutritional and exercise plan. Get in touch today!