How To Put A Stop To Emotional Eating
I am no psychologist, and I don’t claim to have all of the answers. All I can ever do is relate my experiences back to you guys and hope that they’ll help at least one of the people reading my blog. With that in mind, I wanted to tackle a subject which as been very close to my heart (and stomach) for about as long as I can remember…Emotional eating.
Emotional eating is one of the most common trends amongst people who struggle with their weight, and it is certainly something that I have done for a long long time. I remember back when I was 13/14 years old and struggling with my eating patters, my psychiatrist at the time told me that what I was doing to myself was called ‘binge eating’ (where I would eat uncontrollably and then purposely purge because of the guilt) and to me that made total sense. You hear about people who binge on drugs and alcohol, and for many people food can be just as dangerous. When you cease to have control over your eating habits, whether that’s through a diagnosable eating disorder or something that’s less definable, it is usually tied to some sort of emotional issue. If you’re not sure about all of the definitions and terminology around binge eating just pop over to the National Centre for Eating Disorders website where they’ve got loads of useful info!
Personally I’ve spent a good few years working through my issues, both with help and on my own, and have had many epiphanies about my struggles with food. I love food, and I love eating, and one of those realisations was that if I wanted to really enjoy food I needed to work out how to do so without the negative feelings, anxiety and guilt that I’d feel after eating. What’s the point in enjoying an amazing meal, or even a simple homemade one, if you’re then going to obsess about what it’s doing to your body afterwards? To do this I had to work out how to avoid emotional eating, and therefore avoid binge eating. If I could avoid these things, then I could begin to have a healthy and happy relationship with food! It is an ongoing process, but here are a few things that I’ve done to help me, they might work for you or they might not, but either way it’s important to address the issues that you have with food so I would encourage anyone struggling to seek help or advice.
I identified my triggers…
This is not a moment for me to air my dirty laundry to the world, but there were certain things which when thought about made me reach for the biscuit tin! Everyone who over eats due to emotional reasons has triggers that make them do so…this could be work stresses, home stresses, memories, or even a smell, but it’s important to identify these so that you can come up with strategies to deal with them…with that in mind…
I came up with strategies…
Once I had identified my triggers, I needed to work out how to tackle them when they occured. There are some triggers that you can work through, and others that are always going to be there, so coming up with these strategies is really important. One thing that I had to do was remove (nicely) some of the more negative influences and people from my life as they put me in situations which would lead to bad eating habits… this wasn’t easy but it was entirely necessary! Other strategies include planning ahead to account for situations with triggers in them, arming myself with healthy food, and making sure I had people to talk to when I felt stressed. That last one is particularly important so that I can relieve some of the stress before resorting to my negative eating patterns. One of the other things that I did, although it wasn’t just to help with eating, was to get a new job. When I was unhappy at work, I also had a long drive back in the evenings, which gave me the perfect opportunity to stop and buy packets of sweets and biscuits to drown my sorrows. With a new job this isn’t an issue as I’m super happy and close to home too! This goes back to what I was saying the other day about priorities, even though I know a new job isn’t always an option, it’s a really good idea if your current job is having a serious negative effect on your life!
I got help…
I’m talking about professional help here. Over the years I’ve been lucky to have parents who made an effort to send me to see someone when I started to struggle, and there is absolutely no shame in that. The stigma around mental health, or even just going to talk to someone, is ridiculous! Things are changing but there’s a long way to go, and I feel no shame in admitting that I needed help. I don’t need to see someone any more, but if in the future I struggle I will have no shame then either…getting help is a positive thing and everyone should be encouraged to do it! Whether it’s because you struggle with food, have lots of negative thoughts, or simply want a friendly face to unburden yourself to, it can really help! By facing some of my issues head on, I dealt with a lot of the things which caused my emotional eating in the first place. It took a while to sink in to be honest, so it wasn’t necessarily when I finished seeing a psychiatrist that I felt OK. But in the years since, a lot of the things that I learnt back then have made more sense and changed the way I do things.
I joined Slimming World…
I’ve already made it very clear to everyone who knows me or reads this blog that joining Slimming World is the best thing that I ever did for myself! Image Therapy (the other name for the group sessions) is the most important way that I have learned to have a healthy relationship with food. That coupled with how well the plan works, and how easy it is to follow, has revolutionised everything for me! I am a true believer in the Slimming World plan and I will shout that from the roof tops (or this blog!) all day, every day if it encourages one more person to walk through those doors!
I started a blog…
OK so I know this might seem like a bit of an obvious one, given that you’re currently reading my blog, but part of my motivations for starting this was to have a platform to share and save my favourite recipes. More recently though, it has become a place to work out my thoughts (in pieces like this one). It has seriously helped me tackle some of my bigger issues, like those about the bullying I’ve experienced, and in doing so I’ve been able to help other people, thereby turning my experiences into something positive! It has also made me much more concious of when I start to emotional eat, because I’m always considering new things to write about, and that has helped me to identify some more of my triggers.
I could go on, as there are lots of things that have helped me over the years, and I’m not out of the woods yet. I still find myself falling into old habits, and I still emotional eat sometimes, which is why I can’t say I have all of the answers. But I do it a whole lot less than I ever did before! With some of the strategies that I’ve put in place, and by surrounding myself with positivity as much as I can, I can say that my problems seem a lot smaller than they ever did before. For that I am so thankful, and for the first time in many years I can honestly say I am in a good, happy, healthy place in my life!
I really hope, if you’re struggling at all, that this might have been some help. Let me know your experiences in the comments, or if you’d like to chat or anything at all just drop me an email!
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