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Emotional eating: How do you prevent it?

blog-fast-foodEmotional eating is quite common. It’s something that has been engrained in many of us since childhood. A treat would be chocolate or sweets or ice cream if you hurt yourself/were ill, chocolate and sweets would also be offered to comfort us and make us feel better. Now the government’s anti obesity advisor, Susan Jebb is saying children shouldn’t be rewarded with sweets in a bid to prevent them becoming obese adults. This will be the subject of another blog post as there’s a lot to say about it!

Recognising you’re an emotional eater is the biggest step in being able to change things. When you’re an emotional eater, finding a different response to upsetting or difficult times is key. Often, people eat because they’re bored too or it’s just a habit e.g. watching TV with a cup of tea and biscuits or wine and crisps/chocolate. Breaking those habits is the key to success but the how is often the difficult part.

Emotional eaters can be very hard on themselves and tell themselves off for failing or for eating too much. Our relationship with food is very complex and unlike alcohol or cigarettes which you can live with out, we can’t just stop eating. So what can you do?

Firstly, change your belief. The more you believe you’re an emotional eater, the more you will become one. Our brain fulfils what you think whether that’s positive or negative and it’s happening whether you think it is or not. Be careful what you tell yourself and only speak about yourself positively. Stop saying I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m unhealthy…you’ll become these things if that what you think. Start saying I’m slim, I’m healthy, I’m beautiful, I deserve to be slim and healthy. Write these up on post it notes and stick them anyway you regularly stand e.g. mirrors.

Secondly, change your habits. Do you know what triggers you to eat? Is it boredom? Sadness? Loneliness? Stress? Do you only eat when you’re on your own? Does drinking alcohol tend to lead you to comfort eat too? When you know what causes you to comfort eat, you can start to do something about it. Changing habits takes at least 21 days and requires consistent effort. Here are some tips for changing behaviour:

  • What can you replace food with? Pampering- a hot bath, painting your nails? A glass of sparkling water instead of alcohol?
  • Tapping- this is something that works on removing old beliefs too which is important for creating new habits. You can find more information on YouTube by searching for tapping or EFT.
  • Take up a hobby such as knitting or get a colouring book which distracts you from the thought of food
  • Call a friend/ family member who will help you take your mind off things
  • Do some exercise- yoga, stretching, walking, or even just moving

Ultimately, if you’re finding it hard to break the habits then sometimes professional help is needed. There are a variety of people who can including some nutritionists, counsellors, hypnotherapists and other practitioners too.

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