We should eat and drink for both nourishment and enjoyment. Food is not just a means to keep us alive. It can be the centre of our social stream. We meet friends for food, we sit at the table together and talk about our day, or the days to come. We have business meetings over lunch. Let’s face it, if you’re invited to a party and the first thing you think is to get there in time for the food!
Being emotionally connected to food is a good thing, even when we’ve had a shit day and want to go home and have a Chinese and a bottle of wine.
It’s a way of life. It’s natural and we all do it. It only becomes a problem when:
- we do it in excess (which causes us to over indulge or under consume on a regular basis)
- we feel compelled, obsessed or feel out of control
- we can’t or don’t stop eating when satisfied
- we don’t have another way to create connection or comfort.
This is why dieting through restriction is not sustainable. Because in the majority the people who feel like they need to diet are more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with food which brought them to the position that they’re in. Even when you know you have a problem with over indulging on food. Because you will inevitably “slip up” and then feel guilty afterwards for “going off plan” and then the vicious cycle ensues when you self sabotage, lose control and have the “I’ll start again next week” mindset.
If you have a pattern of emotional eating which is actually very common, try this one tip:
When you’re faced with a situation or feeling that compels you to eat (and you’re not hungry) – take out your phone, set your timer to 5 minutes and sit with it for 5 minutes. When the timer runs out you are free to choose whether you want to eat or leave it. Over time you will choose to leave it more than eat it and if you do eat it there’s no guilt or shame. Eat because you want to, not because your circumstances force you into it.
“Normal” eaters who have a healthy relationship with food don’t think of food as “good” or “bad”. They don’t over think or obsess over what they’re eating nor do they under think or become apathetic towards it. They understand how their choices in food relate to their health, fitness, performance and happiness. They enjoy eating but they don’t seek food to comfort their emotions (all of the time). They eat when they’re actually hungry and not bored or depressed, angry etc. They choose to eat or not to eat in response to cravings, not compelled by cravings. They choose foods they believe are appropriate choices in relation to their health and happiness. They know when they’re hungry and they know when they’re full and they stop eating when they’re full.
There are a lot of people out there who suffer in silence, or do not realise that emotional eating is actually a thing that can coincide with depression, anxiety, stress, self image issues, feelings of worthlessness where the only comfort is food. In most cases to combat this issue requires support from a professional, as with all battles it’s very difficult to fight alone.
If you think you need help with emotional eating, seek out the advice of a nutrition coach or if the issue goes deeper down the route of disordered eating, a clinical professional, dietician, counsellor or therapist will be able to assist you.