Here’s what you need to know about Emotional Eating

Losing weight is a tough business. Keeping a track of foods, exercising enough to burn calories….. the cycle feels endless sometimes.

I know plenty of people who treat themselves at the weekend, a cheat meal or day, which helps curb their cravings for the rest of the week and keeps them on track. Others plan the naughty stuff to make up part of their daily diet, so that they never truly crave junk food or see it as bad.

There’s another group of people (which is probably much larger than we think, and care to admit), who suffer from emotional eating, which can have huge implications on progress with a weight loss program, self confidence and your relationship with food.

Emotional eating is when you turn to food for comfort, not necessarily when you’re hungry. The instant gratification can make you feel good, but the crash afterwards can lower your levels of self esteem and eventually lead to weight gain, when the cycle of comfort eating isn’t broken. Sometimes associated with depression and other mental illnesses, it can also occur when you’re angry, anxious, sad and stressed. And it’s easy to slip into a cycle – feeling an increased stress levels due to work, seeing the packet of biscuits and eating the whole lot, the guilt of eating the whole packet of biscuits.

The physical side of emotional eating add up as well. Imagine you slip into the emotional eating trap every night, think of the extra calories you will consume. As an example, a packet of chocolate hobnobs is 1262 calories; a share bag of cool original Doritos is 1012 calories. If you’ve been eating well throughout the day, and put the effort into thinking about your calorie intake, then this would be completely sabotaging all that hard work. By the end of the week, you could easily have consumed an extra 7000 calories – if it takes burning 3500 calories to lose 1 pound, this is seriously affecting your weight loss/ gain.

Sometimes it happens without you even realising it, or even thinking about what you’re consuming – ever sat in front of the TV with a packet of sweets, eating them gradually, and not even noticing when the packet is empty? Whilst this isn’t necessarily emotional eating, it certainly isn’t mindful eating. We need to think about what we’re putting in our body, and the consequences of doing so. I don’t mean falling into disordered eating; just being a bit more mindful of the effect food has on our body and the type of foods that get us the best results.

Most emotional eaters feel powerless to their food cravings – once the craving takes a hold, that’s all they can think about, until the craving is satisfied. Using food to make you feel better, rather than deal with the underlying causes.
It’s easy to use food as a reward for performing well or a pick-me-up, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but depending on it time after time can lead to problems. Using food as a coping mechanism isn’t healthy, and can lead to all sorts of problems. Creating strategies to deal with the underlying causes of stress or anxiety (or the trigger to your emotional eating, whatever that may be); can help you get out of the cycle.

If some of these things ring true with you, I would definitely recommend taking a look at this website for hints and tips.
I certainly know there are plenty of people who suffer from emotional eating, in varying degrees, out there but I also know that highlighting your own triggers and possible causes is hugely important and can help break the cycle you may be stuck in. If you think I can help, get in touch.

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