Emotional eating is a very popular term right now, but what exactly is emotional eating? I describe it as eating for a reason other than physical hunger.
If you find yourself reaching for food when you’re bored, eating food to avoid certain feelings, eating when you’re lonely, upset, when you are distracted (watching TV, when at your laptop), for urgency (you just gotta have that biscuit now!) or even choosing food as a celebration, if you are not feeling the need for food (rumbling or emptying stomach) then chances are you are an emotional eater and your mind is creating the want for certain food.
Eating from an emotional place rather than a place of hunger is a habit we can all fall into, but I have a few tips that will help you to recognise what is emotional eating and what isn’t.
Quite a lot of the time, emotional eating hits when we are burnt out, tired or exhausted and you just need that quick fix.
Firstly, take a pause and ask yourself ‘am I actually hungry right now?’ That can be all you need to bring you back into the present and realise that the food is a want rather than a need.
A lot of the time you can feel hungry when in fact you’re thirsty, so drink a pint of water and see how you feel in five minutes, if you still feel physical huger then go ahead and eat.
If you can, have a nap. If that’s not possible then open a window for fresh air or go for a walk to get you moving and more alert.
If you find you reach for food when you’re upset, try writing down your feelings instead of reaching for food. This creative expression of getting it out and onto paper can really help with stress and emotional episodes. It distracts and engages your mind as well as giving you something to do with your hands.
If choosing food to celebrate, look at other ways this may be possible. Buy a small, non-food related gift to yourself, document your cause to celebrate by video of journal, give your friends a call and let them know your great news.
Urgent eating is quite a big one. Wanting to eat that piece of cake because you know it’s there and it’s calling you!
In this instance, breathe! Just breath and check in on yourself. What are you feeling, what is going through your head and what are you feeling in your heart? Tune into it and feel those emotions, sit with it for five minutes. Chances are the urgency will pass and you will be able to carry on your day.
IF you do still reach for food, then enjoy it and each mouthful SLOWLY with curiosity and not judgement. Be curious of your choices and be aware of any patterns forming – trust me there is always a pattern!
About the author
Margaret Bell is an emotional eating specialist who works with women who have an inner struggle with body image and emotional eating.
With personal experience of overcoming emotional eating, Margaret now focusses on setting women free from the diet trap, so that they can live a life that isn’t dictated or governed by food or feeling of guilt.
As well as working with women 121 and in a group coaching session, Margaret is also launching her first recipe book: True Taste at the end of November and can be pre-ordered here: https://www.naturallyempoweredhealth.com/true-taste-e-book
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