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10 ways to curb emotional eating

When our feelings are all over the place, we often seek comfort from food, or eat to relieve boredom or stress. This emotional eating might be a quick fix, but it can come at the cost of health issues.

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Some of us eat less when we’re stressed, others eat more. It’s important to note, eating high fat/sugar/carb comfort foods to cope with your emotions is a completely normal response but it won’t fix emotional problems. Guilt or shame for overeating can add to the weight of the original emotions, leaving you feeling worse. 

Why do we do it?  

Sometimes we eat impulsively, without stopping to think of the consequences. Our biological sex is also a factor. Women are more prone to intense emotions due to hormone changes. This may be why women are more likely to use eating to regulate their mood.  

It’s helpful in the long term to address the feelings behind emotional eating.   

How to help ourselves  

Emotional eating can compromise our weight loss goals. We can help avoid it by doing the following:  

  1. Have positive experiences with food, planning, cooking, and experimenting.  
  1. Find a routine with regular meals that you enjoy.  
  1. Plan your menu and weekly shop   
  1. Try not to go shopping while hungry or stressed  
  1. Identify what triggers you, this’ll make it easier to avoid emotional eating  
  1. Avoid buying foods you tend to crave and overeat  
  1. Prepare healthy snacks like yoghurt and fruit, a small handful of mixed nuts, or vegetable sticks with hummus  
  1. Find alternative ways to address your emotional needs. Investigate how mindfulness, time management and problem-solving skills can help you  
  1. Learn to question why you want to eat. Bored? Try a new activity or strike a job off your to-do list. Stressed? Take a break, go for a walk and get some fresh air. Lonely? Call a friend or family member  
  1.  Look after yourself. This can be half an hour with a cuppa and a good book, a peaceful bath or a woodland walk with friends. Find what lifts your spirits and put some self care in the diary regularly  

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. With many of us working from home and/or under extremely challenging circumstances, it’s ok to just ‘be’. We all make poor judgements sometimes, and that’s ok. Go easy on yourself and make little positive changes when you can. 

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