Are you an Emotional Eater?
Emotional eating is very common and is not necessarily a problem. In this modern world, we often live very busy and stressed lives, we use various methods to manage stress, numb and comfort ourselves, food is but one. Others include but are not limited to social media, games, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs. If this habit is negatively affecting your physical or emotional health and lifestyle then it is a problem that needs to be addressed.
People often say, the chocolate, drink or whatever they use “is the only thing that I look forward to”” or “the only thing that gets me through the day”. If this is the case I suggest you don’t stop it overnight as this will be very stressful. First, focus on putting some of the strategies in place that are listed below, then this habit will slowly be replaced by new healthier habits. Be aware of the power of language, when you say “chocolate is the only thing that gets me through”, it becomes the truth, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, so stop describing it that way!
It is important to have other tools available in your stress management toolkit, not just food/drink. What are the other things that help you feel calm and happy and give you comfort? Some examples are:
- music (I often just play a song on my phone to cheer myself up or feel better)
- reading or listening to books
- colouring in
- hobbies such as art, craft, woodturning etc
- chatting to a friend
- making a pot of tea
- one minute of just focusing on breathing
- patting the dog
- movement (yoga, stretching, running, dancing, walking, skipping etc)
- watching silly/cute animal videos on YouTube
- spending time in nature
Now you have some ideas, make your own list. If you are not sure, try different things to see what works for you. When you have your stress management toolkit full, you will have lots of options to rotate over time. Then the occasional comfort eating can be enjoyable and will not negatively impact on your health.
If you still struggle with this and struggle with your feelings, go to a mental health professional to get help for your particular challenges, it is OK to ask for help, this is stuff that is not taught at school and often not by parents as they often don’t have the skills themselves. Be patient and show compassion to yourself, it will take time but you will develop the skills you need to manage your emotional eating.
Fiona Kane, Nutritional Medicine Practitioner, Holistic Counsellor and Life Coach at the Informed Health Nutritional Wellbeing Centre