Tips To Break Away From Emotional Eating

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How To Stop Emotional Eating

BY KIM WOODWARD

Learn to say no to emotional eating...

Learn to say no to emotional eating…

Do you reach for the cookies, chocolate, or potato chips when you’re feeling stressed and emotional? Lots of people eat for comfort and it’s no wonder given the feelings of pleasure and joy food can bring. Eating can be a powerful self-soothing strategy, but if it’s used too frequently, it can also lead to difficulties with overeating and the experience of cravings. Indeed, researchers have suggested that as much as three quarters of overeating results from emotional triggers rather than physical hunger.

The reason that eating (whether it’s grazing, binging, picking, or continuing to eat once full) is so soothing is that is serves a function of regulating our emotions. It helps to make our feelings bigger or smaller, or it can help us to avoid negative feelings altogether. Emotional eating can numb us, help us escape, divert attention from negative feelings, alleviate feelings of boredom, increase relaxation, or become associated with feelings of fullness and satisfaction. Eating to avoid might seem like the solution to your problems, but over using this self-soothing strategy can have costs like overeating, developing cravings for food, or feeling out of control about what you eat.

So how can you self-soothe without food? Here are a few tips:

Top Tip #1

Taste can be soothing, but we can experience feelings of relaxation and pleasure when we sooth our other senses (sight, sound, smell, touch) as well. Smells in particular can be particularly soothing. Try putting on your favourite scent/fragrance or burning a scented candle.

Top Tip #2

Soak your stress away with a relaxing bath (you can also burn a scented candle or add scented bath oils to really soothe the senses).

Top Tip #3

Give yourself a hand massage – take the time to apply moisturiser and enjoy the sensations of touch as you massage your hands.

Top Tip #4

Listen to enjoyable music.

Top Tip #5

Practice mindfulness – even 5 minutes of mindful breathing can be wonderfully relaxing.

Top Tip #6

Go for a walk.

Top Tip #7

Look at something beautiful – when we look at beautiful things we experience feelings of pleasure and joy. Give your mood a boost by looking at a sunset, at the beach, at artwork, or even kids playing.

Top Tip #8

Sleep on it! We often underestimate the value of restful sleep to restore our emotional strength and feelings of wellbeing. Remember, good quality sleep isn’t just soothing, it’s essential for your emotional and physical health as well.

Kim is a warm and empathetic clinical psychology registrar who is passionate about working with adults and young adults to improve their quality of life, enhance adaptive coping/functioning, and reduce suffering. Kim works with a range of presentations including drug and alcohol problems, addiction, issues relating to managing intense emotions, eating disorders and eating related difficulties, low self-esteem and identity issues, relationship difficulties, trauma, stress and coping, anxiety disorders, depression, sleep disorders, personality disorders, and complex and co-morbid presentations.


 

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