Many of us have an emotional relationship with food since eating is seen as a pleasurable experience.
However, emotional eating is not about discipline or self-control. It can often be unconscious eating triggered by emotion.
It can be easy to turn to food to help you to cope with feelings of sadness, rejection, boredom and stress or to use food as a reward. But emotional eating can make us feel worse because the positive effects of eating provide very short term pleasure which can quickly turn to feelings of guilt, shame and self-hate.
Has emotional eating become an issue for you?
Strong food cravings can hit you when you are at your weakest points emotionally.
So, here are my 10 top tips to help you to manage your emotions to help break the cycle:
- Try to eat only when you are hungry and by this I mean ask yourself the question, am I really hungry now? Or is it something that I’m feeling? This sounds simple but the reason for this is to check whether you are physically hungry or whether it is an emotional trigger
- Find other ways to reward and nourish yourself. Aromatherapy; massage; have a bath; get stuck into some house jobs; dance to really loud music
- Learn to love yourself, respect yourself and cherish yourself. A major reason for overeating is because we hate our bodies It may require a change in mindset to achieve this but, when you feel comfortable in your own skin, you are more confident about yourself and so are less likely to turn to food for comfort
- Keep a journal - it can really help to write things down and describe how you’re feeling. Often people find that if they write their feelings down they are in touch with those feelings and it helps to work things out
- Be aware of which of your feelings is a trigger for when you reach out for food. If you know that you are likely to feel lonely or stressed make a plan of action by arranging something you enjoy or call a friend
- Exercise regularly which can help you to reconnect with your physical self as well as reducing stress. Chronic stress causes high levels of cortisol in the body which is the cause of a craving for carbohydrates
- Get plenty of sleep. This will help to improve your mood and prevent you from being tired and exhausted which can leave you more vulnerable to emotional eating
- Try to avoid overwhelming yourself and avoid having a jam-packed diary. Take breaks in the day and have regular days off. Make sure that you’re comfortable with the way that you live your life
- Eat regular meals during the day so that you’re never really hungry. It’s when we are really hungry that we are less able to fight off cravings
- Eat mindfully. Sit down to eat your meals without any distractions. Pay attention to what you’re eating. Focus on the taste of the food and enjoy it.
The next time you overeat in response to an emotion, don’t be too hard on yourself. Forgive yourself and tell yourself tomorrow is another day. Being kind to yourself will help you in the long run.
Remember, it’s not about willpower it’s about finding ways to cope with your emotions