Emotional eating is not the same for everyone. Some people reach for comfort food when they’re sad, others grab the wrong foods when they’re stressed whereas for others it’s anger that triggers emotional eating. There are even people who start binge eating when they’re happy. For some it’s even all of the above. You might eat different foods for different emotions, such as sweet and chocolatey for sadness and salty and greasy for stress. The common thread is that the emotion rather than hunger controls your eating habits. That can very quickly lead to becoming overweight and even obesity. It is therefore important to end emotional eating. Yes, that’s possible!
Recognise the behaviour and identify your triggers
The first step is to recognise your behaviour and identify your triggers. Which emotions gets you eating uncontrollably? You are now beginning to gain back control.
Every time you reach for food, ask yourself: “Am I hungry? Is it lunch time, dinner time, time for tea, supper (or whatever else you call your meal)?” If the answer is ‘yes’, enjoy your meal. In the case of ‘no, it’s because [insert any other reason here]’ – you have some choices to make.
A mood and food journal can really help with this. Keep a note of what you eat and how you’re feeling. Email me and ask for a template to start you off.
Create alternative solutions
If you reach for food every time you receive an uncomfortable phone call or step away from an argument with your significant other or a co-worker (or worse) your boss, you need to come up with an alternative. Create a list of activities you can pick up at a moment’s notice that will provide comfort to your soul in difficult circumstances.
Here are some ideas:
- Read a chapter of a book you’ve always wanted to read
- Turn up the volume of your music and dance to a song or two
- Find a quiet spot and meditate for a short while
- Make a gratitude list (list 5-10 things you’re grateful for in that moment, however trivial they may seem)
- Call a friend
- Watch a programme on Netflix
- Go for a short walk
- Have a hot bubble bath or a soothing shower
These are just some examples of activities you could choose. Once you have created your list, stick a copy onto the fridge door and keep a copy on your phone in a notes app, so that you can always refer to it if you need to.
The key to end emotional eating is pleasure
The idea is that you provide your body with pleasure when it needs it. The pleasure doesn’t have to come from food.
Also, make sure you take time every day to do something nice for yourself. This makes you more likely to cope with life’s difficulties.
End destructive self-talk
Another important factor in the fight against emotional eating is how you talk to yourself. If someone else ever spoke to us the way we often speak to ourselves, we would be horrified. Try the following tactic: whenever you catch yourself saying something nasty to yourself such as “I’m such an idiot!” or “I’m so fat” or “How could I be so stupid” – replace the word ‘I’ with your name, as if you’d overheard someone else say the same thing about you. “Paul is such an idiot!”, “Sally is so fat” or “How could Cheryl be so stupid”. You will be amazed how different this feels and you will not want to talk to yourself like this any longer. Do this every time you notice the negative self-talk and it shouldn’t take too long for you to stop. And when you stop berating yourself, your need to eat emotionally will also go down.
How Hypnotherapy can help overcome emotional eating
If you find it difficult to quieten your internal negative voice or finding alternative outlets for your negative emotions, hypnotherapy might help. During a hypnotherapy session we get to the bottom of your emotions and teach you to deal with them in a different way. We also teach you relaxation techniques that help deal with stressful situations more easily, so you won’t feel the need to reach for food and be able to end emotional eating.
As a clinical hypnotherapist I have been helping people overcome emotional eating since 2010. If you would like to get in touch for a complimentary session, please contact me, Sam Culshaw-Robinson either by phone 075 222 777 22 or via email email@example.com .