How to ditch emotional eating for good.

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Hands up if you manage to eat really well until…

 

You get stressed.
You’re feel a bit bored and reach for food for distraction.
You’re period arrives.
Something unexpected happens and changes your day.
You feel sad.
You feel nervous.

 

Yep, me too.

 

Did you know the majority of the population experience emotional eating?  It doesn’t feel that way, does it? When you’re finishing off a block of chocolate instead of dealing with how you’re feeling, it feels like you’re the only one who goes through this.  You’re probably also beating yourself up about not having any self-control and falling back into this bad habit, yet again.

 

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is any time you’re using food instead of dealing with and emotion or feeling.  You’re not really hungry but there is something going on, so you reach for food as the fastest solution.

 

Rather than feeling these (often icky) emotions fully we try to dull them down with food instead. For many of us this is a learnt behaviour as caring parents and grandparents nurtured our emotions through food. How many of us can remember being physically hurt and offered a cuddle and then a special treat as a distraction? Or we associated the comforting feeling of our mother’s presence with food and so turn to food instead, looking to give this nurturing feeling to ourselves.

 

If we’re not aware of it, reaching for foods (because we’re looking for the feeling) becomes a habit that we continue to play out in our adult lives as well.

 

Emotional eating is like an addiction. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) it’s not like an alcohol or drug addiction where you can avoid the situations and people involved. You can’t just ‘quit food’ like you can for other addictions.

 

It’s one we need to learn to manage, especially if emotional eating for you is causing you health problems (and I’m talking anything from carrying extra weight or that negative voice inside your head who beats you up every time you eat something ‘bad’).

 

3 Ways to Overcome Emotional Eating.

 

1. Awareness.

Bottom line – you can’t change what you’re not aware of. The first step in beating emotional eating is becoming aware of your own behaviour. There are a number of ways to do this. Some people like to keep a food journal to make them accountable for what they are actually eating (many people are unconsciously aware that they’re even doing it – it’s like their body goes into autopilot).
For others awareness can be created simply by eating without distraction. This means you actually need to put down the phone, turn off the TV and stop eating while on the go. Just by setting the intention to put a stop to this habit you’ll probably find you notice a number of times that you’ve been eating and you didn’t even realise you were.
Just a little note here on that … I want you to try and do this without being judgemental of yourself when you do catch yourself eating for emotional reasons rather than hunger. If you launch straight into a tirade of negative thoughts ‘ you have no discipline, you’re hopeless, look at you doing it again, this will never work’ you’ll just make yourself feel like sh** and start the emotional eating cycle off all over again.

 

2. Become aware of your triggers.

Now that you’re starting to notice when you are emotionally eating you now need to work out what your triggers are.

  • Is it when your great Aunt visits and criticises your house and your kids and how you look?
  • Is it work morning teas when there are ALL the good foods on offer?
  • Is it as soon as you get home from work, exhausted and stressed?
  • Is it at the end of a long day alone with kids?

When is it that you most often fall into the trap of emotional eating?

 

3. What can you replace the emotional eating with?

If you’re using food to make yourself feel good and you want to stop doing that you need to come up with a list of others ways you can nurture yourself. You need to replace the eating with something else that feels good.

 

Try to choose a stress reliever that is as easy to access as food and have a range of options for different situations. Because you’re going to need something different to ‘get your hit’ after an argument with your partner than you would after something minor like a stressful day at work.

 

What works for me?

  • Go for a walk outside.
  • Have a hot shower or bath
  • Read a book you love
  • Write in a journal
  • Practice yoga
  • Do cartwheels in the backyard
  • Vent to someone you love
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Watch your favourite TV show

 

So I hope this helps and I’d love to know – what are your main triggers that make you want to inhale a block of chocolate?  What have you found helps?

 

 

If emotional eating is something that you struggle with and you feel you’d like support to guide you through letting go of this habit for good – you might like to join my new online course that is kicking off on the 1st of October. We will be diving deep into this topic with strategies for getting on top of the mindset and emotions that cause emotional eating.

 

If you’d to be the first to know about this course (details will be released REALLY soon!) make sure you’re on my mailing list or shoot me an email here and I’ll send you all the info when it’s available.

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