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Is there anybody who hasn’t pounced on a bar of chocolate or a cake when they’ve been under stress or something sad has happened? Our emotions often get the upper hand, creating a feeling of hunger that has nothing to do with our body’s real needs. So, what’s the best way to stop “emotional eating”?
Identify your emotions
As is often the case, the first step towards avoiding a vicious circle is to be aware that there is a problem. We need to recognise those moments when we grab something to eat not out of hunger but to compensate for some intense emotion. To do this, it’s important to realise which emotions are surging inside us, and why. Anger, discouragement, sadness and anxiety are all causes of impulsive eating. However, if we think back, we soon realise that food has never helped us to manage them…
Accept your emotions
Our society lionises strong people who succeed at everything they take on, and that makes it hard for us to admit that things have got on top of us, or that we are distraught or defeated. Then we eat, thinking it will make us feel better, but it doesn’t work. Guilt about eating when we weren’t hungry gets added to the negative emotions we were trying to suppress. Recognising and accepting our emotions, and also realising that food will be no help whatsoever in dealing with them, makes it possible to stop compulsive eating.
Let’s be constructive
Eating is not the answer. What we need is to find something that really does us good, and be kind to ourselves, especially when we’re feeling a bit fragile. A good way to help your body get out of the habit of demanding food when things go wrong is to put other mechanisms in place – a relaxation session, going to the hairdresser, having a coffee with a friend … any little thing that really does you good.
Accepting your emotions is the key to avoiding emotional eating!