What is emotional eating? I’m sure we’ve all experienced this more than once. When you reach for a sweet when you’re anxious about a deadline you’re supposed to be working on, when you eat a large bag of crisps after dinner because you’re lonely or when you eat a whole tub of ice-cream because you’re feeling angry – that’s emotional eating. I’m sure you could add many more examples. Take a moment to give it some thought – how often do you eat for reasons other than hunger?
The first thing you need to do to help you overcome emotional eating, is to become aware of your emotions. Emotional eating has probably become such an automatic response that you don’t even realise that you are doing it. So what you need to do is take a moment to become aware. Don’t be afraid to feel. Don’t push down those feelings with food. You need to learn to just be with those feelings. You don’t have to act on them, just acknowledge them.
A good technique is doing a mini-meditation whenever you are reaching for something to eat:
Take a moment to stop whatever you are doing. You can keep your eyes open or closed. Take a moment to focus on your breath. Focus on where you feel the in-breath entering your body and where it leaves the body as you exhale.
Now take a moment to observe what is going on inside of you at this moment. What are your thoughts? What are your feelings? What are you feeling in your body? Just observe – don’t judge.
Now bring you attention back to your breath and think about the food you are about to eat. Are you really hungry for it? Or are you eating for other reasons?
When you are ready, open your eyes and proceed with awareness. If you still want to eat, do so mindfully. If you have decided you don’t want to eat, put it aside for later when you really feel like it.
Emotional eating is not bad. We all do it. We eat to celebrate, we eat to treat ourselves. Emotional eating only becomes a problem when it becomes our primary way of dealing with problems and we are not aware of it. So don’t be hard on yourself for eating emotionally and don’t judge yourself.
Which brings us to the next topic, not judging the food we eat.
Don't Judge Your Food
When you have been dieting for many years, you’ve probably got into the habit of judging your food. Each diet will have different foods that it advocates and others that it prohibits – protein is good, carbs are bad; cooked food is bad, raw food is healthy; meat is toxic, vegetables are nourishing. The list could go on and on.[Read More…]