Mood rhymes with food and stressed is “desserts” spelled backwards, as the saying goes, but emotional eating is no joke; in fact, it’s a big problem for many of us.
How often do you find yourself, when stressed, tired, upset and/or angry, reaching for that chocolate bar, slice of cake or packet of chips? I’m certainly guilty of this when feeling super anxious – add it in a bottle of wine and it’s a pity party for one!
There’s surely not a woman (or man) alive who hasn’t fallen prey to emotional/comfort eating. So, how do we stop eating our emotions? Are there practical ways we can actually fight the urge to eat our feelings this winter?
Even my GP says she has to fight the urge to comfort eat. And her best advice on how to do this is to get out of the kitchen; distract yourself with a task which involves using your hands; do something which makes you feel good, such as a pampering hair or face mask and/or painting your nails; and/or eat nutritious, regular meals to combat emotional eating and overeating.
Meanwhile, leading Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell (pictured) says emotional eating is, by definition, “periods of abnormal eating behaviour which have been triggered in response to a particular mood state such as sadness, loneliness or anger.”
In addition, she says sufferers find their emotional discomfort is then temporarily lessened once they eat; with super sweet or salty food the common modus operandi.
So, why is emotional eating bad for us? Obviously, the sweet relief, pardon the pun, is all too fleeting, but Susie says there are serious health risks at play too.
“Weight gain is a problem if excessive calories are consumed, but more importantly in the case of emotional eating the underlying emotional distress is not being identified and managed appropriately. Long-term depressed mood and distress, left unmanaged, can develop into significant health issues,” she says.
“And other dangers can include low mood and energy levels; fatigue, inability to concentrate; and long-term nutrient deficiencies and girls at risk of developing a clinical eating disorder.”
So, what’s a healthy food relationship? Susie’s top tips to stop comfort/emotional eating include:
- Eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Eating regular meals and snacks every 3-4 hours.
- Not being obsessed with eating and food.
- If you really do not want to eat it, do not keep it in the house.
What do you think? Do you eat to ease emotional pain and distress?
Images via blog.aarp.org, blisstree.com