Emotional feasting a growing concern

MIND GAME: Talk your issues out with a friend or professional – food won’t give you any answers.
MIND GAME: Talk your issues out with a friend or professional – food won’t give you any answers.

I THINK we all understand the term emotionally eating.

We've all done it at some point - seeking comfort in food because things in our life are not going the way we would like.

Emotional eating is when foods are consumed in response to an emotion instead of the feelings of hunger.

There's little wonder why this is a learnt trait that we all seem to have.

When we are babies, we can only communicate by crying and telling the whole world something is wrong.

So what do our parents do? They shove a boob or a bottle in our mouth to keep us quiet. From an early age we learn that food can bring us comfort.

Parents often reward a child's behaviours with food treats which reinforces the message as they grow up.

Then as we go through life, eating in response to emotions instead of hunger, becomes a habit preventing us from learning skills that can effectively resolve our emotional distress.

Once you recognise the signs of emotional eating, it is a lot easier to do something about it - like anything, once you know you have an issue, you can take the correct steps in trying to rectify those behaviours.

Do you ever find that you eat when you are bored, lonely, depressed, stressed or frustrated?

You may already know that you are emotionally eating.

Other common signs of emotional eating include eating when you're really not hungry, eating like you are a Hoover (really fast), eating the minute you arrive home or eating so much that afterwards you feel disgustingly full.

If after eating you feel guilt, depression and/or disgust then it's a fair tell-tale sign that you have been emotionally eating.

Recognising the triggers of emotional hunger as opposed to real hunger will be the key to your success in overcoming emotional eating.

Craving specific foods like chocolate and burgers is a trigger that can be easily recognized. Emotional hunger starts in the mind not your tummy so before you eat have a think about "Am I really hungry?"

Emotional hunger involves automatic and absent-minded eating - to overcome this "be present" when you are consuming food.

Don't multi-task when you are eating. Take a few minutes out of your day just to sit and really enjoy your food.

Chew each mouthful.

Think about the food you are chewing and swallowing.

Bringing your attention back to what and how much you are eating, will help you recognise when you are full and prevent overeating.

Breaking a habit of any kind is not easy, especially emotional eating behaviours.

Develop alternatives to problem eating is the best way to kick the habit:

Go for a walk after dinner instead of going for the chocolate bikkies.

Empty your fridge and cupboards of foods which tempt you.

Talk your issues out with a friend or professional - food won't give you any answers.

Learn to manage stress with regular exercise and adequate rest.

Eating a balanced diet with low GI foods can help keep your blood sugars and your emotions in control.

Remember, healthy portion controlled food is important for you and eating should always be an enjoyable experience.

However when the emotional eating interferes with your health and happiness, it's time to seek professional help.

"Emotional eating is when foods are consumed in response to an emotion instead of the feelings of hunger."

Topics:  emotional feasting, michelle peden



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