Has there ever been a time when you’ve turned to food when you’re stressed, sad, lonely or, just completely overwhelmed? Then, found yourself feeling guilty or embarrassed after eating to satisfy your emotion? I can put my hands up and say I have, a number of times, and it is not something that you need to be ashamed of. Emotional eating is so much more common than you might think, and I hope that within this post I can explain and talk about it in a bit more detail, before offering little tips and tricks that have and do still help me.
WHAT IS IT?
Emotional eating can be defined as using food to help cope with feelings or emotions.
It is also a really common occurrence and something that most people will experience. Eat when you’re happy; eat when you’re sad kind of thing. Using food as a comfort or as a reward is normal. How many times have you done something or achieved something you would consider successful and celebrated with a slice of cake or fancy meal out? I’d imagine more than a handful… It is then, important to recognize that this is normal. However, the purpose of this post is to talk about when it becomes not normal for you. When it starts to take over as your go-to reaction in managing your feelings and dealing with tricky situations.
It’s super important to note that there is a difference between emotional eating and binge eating even though some of the triggers and feelings afterward can be the same.
In today’s society, the word binge is thrown around A LOT. Binge watching on Netflix, binge drinking – the list goes on. It is usually used to describe doing or having someone in excess or in larger quantities that average. A binge eating disorder is a mental health condition and is something that really shouldn’t be overlooked. Characteristically, it is a chaotic, frantic state where an individual is unable to control their consumption and might be in a mindless state where there are physically unable to stop. The urge tends to come on suddenly, and might feel like it needs to be satisfied imminently, often leading to craving certain foods that are usually higher in sugar. This is different than sticking your head in the fridge and eating all the M&M’s.
Emotional eating describes a behaviour; binge eating is a serious health condition.
WHY THIS POST?
I wanted to write this post because I think emotional eating is important to talk about because it will happen to most of us. What I don’t want to do is make anyone feel as though they have a problem or, justify any feelings anyone might have toward food, eating disorders and/or relationships with food. I suffered with an eating disorder for a number of years and still have days where it becomes overwhelming, so, emotional ties with food are all too familiar for me (read more about this here).
What I want to achieve with this post is to offer suggestions, tips and tricks that have helped me when I’m having a bit of a wobble.
MY TIPS & TRICKS.
As I have mentioned and will probably mention time and time again, I am not a registered nutrition and am aware that eating disorders and behaviours are v. complicated. Any advice you have received from a medical professional is something I urge you to consider and listen too. These are just a few suggestions that have helped me.
- Listen to your body and pay attention to the difference between actual hunger and emotional hunger. I’m sure you’re parents have told you to wait 20 minutes and then ask yourself again? Well once again, they’re right. (As much as we all hate to admit it).
- What eating pattern works for YOU? 3 meals a day? 6 smaller meals? Lots of snacks? Everyone is different. If you prefer lots of little snacks, then that is what you should continue doing. Your body will feel satisfied for longer, and your brain won’t fixate on when you’re having your next meal.
- If you want ice cream or pizza with your friends or have had a crappy day and need a bar of Cadbury’s – HAVE IT. Just be mindful, and don’t resort to that bar of Cadbury’s every time. Restricting yourself will only make you want it more and create an emotional tie to certain food types and/or groups.
- Are there triggers that cause you to turn to food? Pressure, loneliness, worry? Make a list of things that make you feel good be it painting your nails, going for a walk, a face-mask? Put yourself first when these feelings start to creep in.
- Be kind to yourself – if it happens, it happens. Do not beat yourself up! You’re human and being overly critical will only make you feel worse. Look forward and re-focus.
- Believe in you and trust your body.
I hope that this post offers some form of guidance to anyone who might have experienced any form of emotional eating and please know that you are not the only one! If you want to chat or if you have any other tips & tricks that have helped you, I’d love to know – please get in touch.