It’s been a bad day at work, so for dinner you order an extra-large pizza with double cheese and a tub of ice cream for dessert. Or you had a fight with your friend, so you dive into enough fried chicken to feed a family of four. Any of this sound familiar?
If so, you’re an emotional eater. But then, this shouldn’t come as a surprise – as it’s likely a coping mechanism you’ve used for years. The problem is, it isn’t working anymore. It’s making you feel lethargic and depressed, it’s causing weight gain, and it’s contributing to a lack of confidence and self-esteem.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that there’s something you can do about it.
The next time you feel yourself reaching for food to cope rather than nourish, stop before it gets to your mouth. Realise that you aren’t eating because you’re hungry, you’re eating to suppress an emotion – one that you’ve probably never let yourself feel before.
Now that you’ve put the food down, it’s time to dig a little deeper. You’re eating to forget or escape – but what emotion is it that you’re trying to push aside? Are you angry, frustrated, sad or something more? It may take a while to identify your feelings, but persist until you have an answer.
So now you know that you’re feeling… something. What now? Well, now you feel it, in all its intensity, probably for the first time in a long time. So take a few minutes and allow yourself to be angry/sad/worried/irritated. It’s part of being human, and it’s necessary.
Now it’s time to do something about your actual emotion, and move past it. But how? By turning a negative into a positive! Make a list of all the things you love doing and do one or more of them until you feel your mood changing.
Go easy on yourself
Remember that you’ve been using emotional eating to cope for years – so don’t expect to change your habits overnight. You may not even want to, as emotional eating has become such a crutch. But if your need to become your best you is stronger than your need to comfort yourself with food, you’ll keep trying and soon you’ll be a leaner, stronger, and ultimately happier version of yourself.
Did you know that you can lose weight without giving up alcohol? No lies! We tell you how, here.