Emotional eating is when food is used as a way to deal with an emotion rather than to satisfy actual hunger.
It doesn’t always need to be a negative emotion too – even feeling happy or celebratory can lead to emotional eating (or drinking…).
It can be a tough habit to break, and there are some foods that seem to be a popular go-to option when these emotions arise.
Today we look at some of the common emotions that can lead to the desire to consume junk – and give you some tips for how to overcome them.
As part of the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge we encourage you to eat regular meals and snacks which is always a good start to avoid emotional eating.
You might reach for some ice cream.
When you feel bored, your mind can drift off to a ‘what can I do’ place that often involves food.
Instead, use your time wisely and keep yourself busy so that the idea of eating when you aren’t hungry doesn’t come up.
Make a herbal tea, take a bath, phone a friend to chat, write a letter, or read a magazine.
You might reach for some chocolate.
It can often feel as though we are trying to fill an emotional hole with a physical thing (like a block of Dairy Milk).
Instead of swallowing your feelings along with the chocolate, try to find a way to deal with them instead.
If you can, reach out to someone that you can talk to about what’s making you feel upset. That could be your partner or a close friend.
When we bottle up our feelings it can cause long term issues in terms of stress and fatigue, and even depression.
If you ever feel that this may be an issue for you it’s important to seek help as soon as possible from your GP or health clinic nurse.
You might reach for some lollies.
Often we reach for sugar as a crutch to keep us going when we are tired. And while it seems to pep us up somewhat, it is normally followed by the sugar crash which sees us reaching for more and more sugar to feel better again.
Having little ones means that being sleep deprived is par for the course – but there needs to be a balance.
If you feel that you need some help, be brave enough to ask for it. It might mean asking a relative to mind the kids one afternoon while you take a nap or have a rest. It could be that one night per week your partner manages bedtime so that you can take some time out for yourself.
If you are constantly tired or exhausted you could also be experiencing diet issues, such as a lack of iron. See your doctor if you think this could be the case.
You can also try some protein rich snacks such as nuts, cheese, or yoghurt when the cravings hit.
You might reach for some chips.
Being a mum can be quite lonesome sometimes. It might feel as though it’s just easier to stay home than to try to wrangle the kids into the car or pram to get out of the house each day.
We all need adult contact so it is important to get some social outings on the calendar. Joining a mother’s group in your local area can be a good place to start, especially if not many of your friends have children.
You could also try attending a community play group as they are a great way to meet other parents and kids in your area.
When you do go out (or even if you are staying in) it’s important to take healthy snacks with you for the kids and yourself. This can help to avoid the temptation to treat yourself with junk food to fill the gap.
You might reach for some cake.
Sugar and fatty food seems to be the go-to option for a stressed out day. But if you are feeling the effects of sleep deprivation, sick kids, a busy partner, trying to lose pregnancy weight, money troubles, or just the everyday stresses of being a mum – it’s important to remember that a) you’re not alone, and b) a piece of chocolate cake isn’t going to help matters.
In fact the high sugar and high fat combo can lead us into a downward spiral of nausea, sugar crash, and an attack of the guilts all rolled into one queasy ball.
When you are stressed it’s well worth trying to keep your blood sugar levels stable. Try eating something for lunch such as roast pumpkin and onion with some brown rice, fresh mint and crushed almonds.
This will fill you up without the sugar or fat and will keep your mood at bay while you sort through whatever is causing you stress.
You might have a huge blow out dinner.
Perhaps you’ve got some good news, a success at home or at work, or you’re just feeling great about life. But even a positive emotion like excitement and happiness can lead to a less than ideal desire to consume too much (of anything).
So often in our society, celebrating is linked with consuming excess food and drinks. It could be a fancy 3 course dinner with wine and cocktails. It could mean ordering in pizza…plus garlic bread…plus soft drinks…plus dessert.
If you’ve had a win and want to celebrate, why not look to some non-food rewards instead?
Treat yourself to a massage, a facial, a pedicure, a new dress, a night out at the movies – just remember that it doesn’t need to revolve around eating or drinking in order to high five yourself for a job well done.