Emotional or comfort eating
In our previous article we examined what we might mean by emotional eating and used the helpful summary from the website, B-eat which describes the problem as follows, ‘Emotional overeating can be defined as eating large amounts of food in response to negative emotions (such as anxiety or depression) rather than physical hunger.’
Here, we want to identify some of our favourite strategies for putting an end to emotional eating and put ourselves fully in control of our diet and keep on course with our weight loss or management goals.
Tip 1 – The journal
How many times do we suggest you get writing in your journal? It’s lots. And with good reason! Journaling is the answer to so many things, which causes us problems and needs to be at the very heart of your daily activities. Every time you feel the need to comfort eat, write down a few key points as follows:
- Where am I?
- Who am I with?
- What am I doing?
- What triggered the emotion?
- What emotion is it?
- What buttons are being pressed?
- When did I last feel this way?
- Can I do something other than eat unhealthy and fattening foods?
Now doing this might just be enough to put the brakes on your trip to the kitchen but it does a little more too. Identify this entry into your journal as an emotional or comfort eating entry and over time reflect on all of these. Recognise any patterns? If you do, you’ve just taken a big step towards understanding a little more about yourself and how psychology affects your weight. Go and read a great article on journaling for weight loss before reading further and then come back.
Tip 2 – The carrot experiment
Emotional eating wouldn’t affect our weight so much if it didn’t involve copious amounts of ice cream and full fat cola. So grab a carrot instead. ‘What?’ I hear you cry. I understand. Eating a raw carrot might just add to the misery, but that’s not the point. You don’t simply eat the carrot, you experiment with it.
Here’s what you do. Grab a carrot that is about the same length of your favourite chocolate bar. Top and tail it and give it a thorough scrub under running water and then check the time. The time is very important – to the second. Now start eating. Go on, munch away on that carrot (it has to be raw by the way) and make sure you finish it all. Swallow that last bite and check the time again. How long did it take? Probably ages. You could have eaten a whole pack of 5 Snickers bars in that time and opened the Ben and Jerry’s. See how dangerous comfort eating is? It’s not just feeling emotional and treating yourself, it is the small amount of time it takes to consume hundreds and hundreds of calories. Food isn’t meant to be eaten like that or carrots wouldn’t take so long to eat.
We don’t mean for you to eat a carrot every time you feel like dipping into the biscuits and cakes but performing the carrot experiment, at any time, sends us a strong message about food and how dangerous it can be.
Tip 3 – Send yourself a message
No, not by email or text. Replace the eating behaviour with something else like a quick stroll or a cycle ride. Exercise is great here but it needn’t be just that. This might stave off the desire to go and binge but it does so much more; it sends a strong message to your future self that you can ride out the storm. Yes, you are back in control and those pesky emotions cannot do anything about it.
Tip 4 – Declutter the fridge
Have no junk food in the house at all. None! It’s called junk for a reason. If it’s not there you can’t eat it. Simple. Say no more.
Tip 5 – Review you Waetugoal
What did you want to achieve when you first signed up with Waetugo? I’ll bet it wasn’t to binge on junk food and sweet treats because you felt a little emotional. And I’m fairly sure it was to get to grips with healthy eating and weight management. Does emotional eating move you towards your goal or away from it? Recognise that taking control now will make you feel immediately that you are moving towards your target weight.
A summary of emotional eating tips
The magic is in the mind. Taking an opportunity such as reading this article on emotional eating is giving yourself the chance to learn about psychology and how it affects you and your weight. The more you learn, the more control you take over yourself and your goals. But don’t make excuses – Do write in your journal, do perform the carrot experiment and do get rid of the useless foods your great grand parents never needed – They are called ‘treats’ for a reason.
What are your favourite tips? Please, please, please add them to the comments below.