On a daily basis I deal with men and women of all ages helping them with fitness & fat loss and I think the subject of emotional eating is becoming more relevant to my work every day.
I’ve met countless people who have lost dramatic amounts of weight and then put it all back on again, or clients who make fantastic progress only to slow down after a while when further progress is within their reach. Their reasons are generally things like “I was board, I was depressed, recovering from sickness, I was on holiday, home by myself, the list really just goes on and on…
A lot of these reasons have to do with our emotions and how we are feeling at the time, I know personally I am a strong willed but just like the rest of you, I have my down days or slip into bad habits I formed years ago. Trying to understand myself and help my clients I decided to look into this further…
What Triggers Emotional Eating?
- Coping: Eating relieves oral tension for example after quitting smoking.
- Caring: In most cultures feeding is considered as caring. Going home to your mother’s cake or a treat after school.
- Family: Meals with the family are a social time and create a feeling of togetherness and belonging, which leads to emotional well-being.
- Relaxing: We associate rest and relaxation with eating; unfortunately it’s usually the wrong things.
- Stability: Eating is a comfort, a ritual, reality check, centers a busy mind and a physical activity.
- Conditioning: As children we’re told ‘don’t leave the table until you’ve cleared your plate’, this carries over into adult life where we feel we have to finish everything that’s put in front of us
How to Manage Your Emotional Eating.
The fact is that most of us are emotional eaters on some level. Below are a few suggestions to making your meals more relaxed, mindful and effective.
- Start with a ‘relaxation appetizer’. Take a few minutes, breath and smell your food. And feel the fullness of the moment.
- Instead of reaching mindlessly for your poor choice of Chocolate (hand-to-mouth), fill yourself up on carrots & healthy dip. Yes they take a little more preparation but it’s irrelevant when you are trying to break this activity of self-feeding.
- Take moments throughout your meals to breath & focus on the food in front of you. Accept and even revel in the healthy meal and enjoy it!
- Quality, not quantity. When you do resort to comfort food pay top dollar. This will not only make you think again but will give you greater appreciation of what you do eat, while also helping you slow down and minimise the collateral damage.
- Take comfort in knowing your food choices are aiding your health – whenever you make the right choices.
- Accept emotional eating as a coping choice, not a coping must.
- If you eat to cope, then just eat. When it comes to ‘conscious’ emotional eating make it as conscious as possible – turn off the TV, don’t distract yourself with reading material just allow yourself to have that moment.
- New processes must be built in place to fine tune the emotional eating such exercise to vent frustrations or treats as a reward for personal successes.
Self -acceptance is a healthy place to start. Emotional eating doesn’t have to lead to emotional overeating.