Something that most of us fall victims to, and may not even realise, is emotional eating. Emotional eating covers a spectrum of different things; From procrastinating and finding yourself in the snack cupboard, to burying your feelings in a jar of peanut butter. Sometimes it’s exactly what you need to do, but other times it’s just a way of postponing feeling the full extent of your emotions. I had a period of time where the comfort of food was all about covering up how I felt, and consequently I felt even worse. If you can relate to this feeling, then know you’re not alone in it, as almost all of us do this in one way or another. For me, I used food to cover up my emotion towards giving up ballet. It was a hard decision and one I struggled to come to terms with for years. It was all I had ever known, and being brave enough to say goodbye to a professional dance career played on my mind constantly. Subconsciously I wanted to bury the feeling, pretend it wasn’t there and this is when emotional eating came in to play. I would eat my food quickly, constantly feel hungry and be grazing from snack to snack throughout the day. Over this time I had terrible digestion, and felt bloated constantly (a beautiful look in a leotard!). My weight didn’t change, as I was extremely active, but my energy levels and digestion took a mighty hit. I couldn’t see that this was all because I didn’t want to accept how I was feeling.
As soon as I made the decision to give up dancing my digestion returned to normal and my mind felt at ease. From that moment I knew the root cause to bad digestion for me was emotions. I became far more mindful about food, and took my time to enjoy and savour every mouthful. In this blog post today I’m sharing 5 of my tips to stop emotional eating that really help me anytime I’m stressed. I hope they can help you too!
1) WHAT ARE YOU FEELING?
Often when you’re emotionally eating, you’ve reached in to grab the nut butter at such a pace you haven’t actually stopped to think why you need it. Before you can blink you’ve devoured several spoonfuls too many, and the guilt of that may lead you to feel the need to suppress even more emotion. As soon as you get the feeling of running to the fridge, STOP. Sit down and think about what you’re actually feeling. What is it that you feel empty about, stressed about, sad about? Realise that what you’re really going to the kitchen for is an escape, but I promise you won’t find it there.
2) TALK IT OUT
Pick a person, your favourite person and make them your go-to-gal (or guy) to speak to when you’re feeling out of sorts. Ask them to be your sounding board and let it all out. Tell them about the problem your facing, big or small. Before getting off the phone, put a list together of 5 things you can do to fix the problem, a little like this list! Even if this is a 10 minute phone call, you need to get off the phone with a list of ways you can be pro-active and solve your problem.
If for some reason you can’t get hold of them, then voice all of the problems to yourself, just as you would your go-to person. Write that list.
Once you’re off the phone and alone again, the anxiety may once more weigh on your shoulders. Don’t let it. Keep your breaths big, long and steady. If you do yoga – this is your yoga breath. This should give you a sense of focus and calm.
4) GO FOR A WALK
Move! Theres nothing that re-inspires me, and lifts my mood more than exercise. Slow paced is perfect to relieve some stress, so take a half an hour walk around your neighbourhood. Use this time to think about ways you can put your plan into action.
5) GET GOING!
The final thing to do is to work out your problem, brainstorm and get going on your list. Facing the problem head on should instantly stop the cycle of emotional eating and empower you to get yourself back on track.
Now, once you have well and truly sorted out your problem, and ticked every point on the list. go to your kitchen and give yourself full permission to eat whatever you like. You should be far more mindful and calm which will change what you eat and the speed at which you do so. If this is the case, congrats, you were a total badass and met your problem eye-to-eye!