We have all been there, the bottom of any empty biscuit packet wondering where they have all gone. You were only going to have a couple but before you knew it the packet was done and the guilt kicks in. Although cravings can sometimes feel overwhelming there is in fact a scientific explanation to it. Emotional eating is a habit, reaching for a packet of Nik naks or a Mars Bar can help us feel a little better if we are experiencing some form of upset. But the problem is that over time emotional eating becomes less and less effective and we need to eat more in order to try and find the comfort we are seeking.
We know that eating a giant bag of Doritos in one sitting isn’t healthy, we know that eating the tub of Ben & Jerrys is no good for us. But even though we know this, we still do it. I’ll admit I have been in the supermarket and in the process of putting a bar of Diary Milk in my trolley when in my head I am saying
“I don’t need this, this is not good for me, this is not a healthy choice…….”
But guess what? It has still been in my trolley by the time I got to the check out.
Even though I knew it wasn’t good for me I still did it. Why?
The real danger begins to happen when emotional eating happens so often that over eating becomes a habit. We do it again and again which leads to feeling worse about ourselves which leads to more emotional eating. It’s a pattern that can sometimes seem impossible to break.
This is a massive topic and not something I can cover in just one e mail, but we can make a start in understanding it. Here are a few techniques that will help if you are prone to emotional eating.
Eat all food sat down at a dinner table. A hassle? Maybe, but just take a minute to think about all the times you eat when not at the dinner table…..a few bites as you are cooking tea, a couple of the kids chips that they didn’t finish, the Bounty bar you grabbed from the newsagents, the bag of Haribo you picked up while paying for petrol, not to mention the snacks we can eat whilst laying on the sofa in an evening.
This is ‘mindless eating’, meaning we hardly even think about it when we are eating it. If we limit eating to when we are sat down at the dinner table, or canteen table then we become more aware of our eating habits. When you eat focus all your attention on the food, the more attention you pay the more you will enjoy it. So when eating don’t watch TV, read a book, browse the internet, drive a car or walk down the street. And eat slowly. (Be honest, whilst lying watching Celebrity Big Brother on Friday night, who is really so hungry that they want to leave the comfort of the sitting room and go sit at the dining room table? Nope, didn’t think so, but how easy is it to polish off a bag of Minstrels in front of the TV. Habit. Pure and simple)
When you are hungry …eat! Real hunger comes on gradually and is a clear signal in your belly. Not quite sure if you are hungry? Ask yourself the question ‘Could I really eat an apple or a piece of chicken? If the answer is no but you could eat a bag of crisps then you are not really hungry.
When you are full stop eating. By being more conscious of our eating we will find it easier to recognise the feeling of fullness. You don’t have to clear your plate, if you feel full stop eating and enjoy the feeling of being full rather than stuffed or bloated.
The key is being more mindful. Take time to eat, enjoy eating. When we become more mindful we become more responsible.
There is so much more to this subject but the above is a really good start.