We’ve all been there; you’re a bit upset from that fight with Mum on the phone, so you open the fridge up and eat a handful of cherry tomatoes. Oh, there’s some cheese, better have a quick bit of that slice. Next minute you know, you’re elbows deep in the freezer section looking for that ice cream you are so sure is there.
You roll yourself to bed, utterly exhausted, full, sick and feeling like you’ve let yourself down with a side serving of sabotage.
You are not alone. It’s called ‘emotional eating’ and it doesn’t always happen in times of strife. This phenomenon can strike at any time when you find yourself eating for reasons other than satisfying actual physical hunger.
We rarely feel satisfied after emotional eating and often feel guilt. Why? Because we’re not actually hungry for food, we’re hungry for something, anything else. It may be stress relief, perhaps a distraction. Maybe a treat or the feeling of control.
Don’t worry, the occasional over-indulgence won’t undo all of your long-term damage. But if your weight loss efforts are being undone by emotional eating, you need to focus on reconnecting with your body, confront the negative emotions, and work to solve the problem instead of avoiding it with food.
Walk away from rewarding yourself with food and start rewarding yourself with other fulfilling activities. Go for a walk, paint your nails, visit your Dojang, have a bubble bath.
Get the paper out and write down alternative ways to meet your emotional needs. This is not to distract you from the thought of food, but rather, to learn and appreciate healthier ways to soothe your troubles that are making you want to eat.
Have your list on hand and the next time you’re hit with an urge to indulge, pause before reacting and go to your list instead.
By doing something different, you start re-training your brain to associate these alternative activities with feeling better.
The first step to taking control back is pinpointing your triggers. If you find you have a slip-up and you’re reaching for that Snickers bar, make a note of the time, what you ate, what you were feeling (including if you were actually hungry) and how it made you feel afterwards.
You will be able to notice any recurring patterns and help identify what made you reach for that chocolate bar. (Remember, be kind yourself! This is to be treated as an exercise of curiosity and self-kindness, not judgment!)
Listening to your body is the most important thing that you can do. People often talk about struggling with binge eating and zoning out when they overeat, not always being mindful of what they’re actually eating.
Emotional eating is generally done in quite the mindless fashion. Identifying and overcoming this disconnection between the mind and the body is a big step in beating the problem, even by applying simple things as pausing and ensuring you’re actually hungry before eating.
When you do eat, bring your full attention to what you’re eating (taste, smell, textures, colours) as well as your physical and emotional state. By being more present while you’re eating, you’ll learn to recognise your body’s ‘full’ signals and also realise the impact different foods have on your body.
Exercise, meditation and yoga are also great ways to re-connect with your body so that your food choices are more likely to support your overall physical and emotional wellbeing.
The trick is to find new ways to cope with negative feelings that do not cause more problems. Replacing one bad habit with another is just going to leave you back to where you started!
Find some healthy coping techniques; ask yourself, “Will this make me feel better or worse right now, tomorrow next week?” If you can answer better, then you’re on the right path to a healthy coping strategy. Exercise and talking with a supportive friend are good examples of healthy coping.
At the end of the day, you can’t be too hard about yourself to yourself. You are a person who gets to enjoy life! Remember, you can reset, recharge and start over.
For more information on Tiffiny Hall’s online health and fitness program, head over to www.tiffxo.com
Copyright © 2020 Bondi Beauty, All Rights Reserved.