Food glorious food. Oh how we love thy glorious food.
Food tastes delicious, it keeps us alive, it’s easily obtained, it makes us feel good (even if only for a brief moment) and it is completely legal!
The legalisation of food means that we can use it to self-medicate.
When we are feeling happy – we eat
When we are feeling sad – we eat
When we are feeling angry – we eat
Emotional eating is a common way to combat emotions and sooth the soul. Food stimulates the pleasure pathways in the brain. It triggers memories that connect us to our past and who we are. Food is our future.
Using food as a once off comforter to feel good isn’t a bad thing. In fact many of us will do this for time to time for an instant pick me up – and that’s ok. The issue arises when food is the only coping mechanism we have to manage our emotions. Suddenly we feel compelled to eat, we don’t stop when we are full and we do it all the time we are faced with an overwhelming emotion.
The thing about emotional eating is that even after all of the eating is done, the emotion is still there. As a matter of fact, we’ve usually eaten ourselves into a deeper hole of self-hate and negativity because we feel so bad about what we’ve just eaten. It’s a relentless, never ending cycle.
SO WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Don’t be too hard on yourself and try to change overnight.
Become self aware.
Try keeping a food feeling journal or take your own mental notes before you eat each meal. Think of it as a self-check in. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I hungry?
- Am I lonely?
- Am I bored?
- Am I experiencing an extreme emotion?
- Am I tired?
- Am I stressed?
Once you are able understand what you’re feeling, you can start to plan solutions on how to better manage those feelings.
If you are stressed you might want to try practicing breathing or meditation before eating anything.
If you are angry you may want to set a timer for 5 minutes to allow yourself to calm down. If at the end of the 5 minutes you still want the food, only then do you eat it.
If you are bored then perhaps you could go for a walk and take in the fresh air.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach but if you can better understand yourself then you can better manage your emotional eating.
Don’t forget you could seek the help of your local healthcare professional or even us at The Chief Life if for meals tailored specifically to your needs!
Remember, Self-Awareness doesn’t stop you from making mistakes, it allows you to learn from them.