But why Emotional Eating?
Emotional eating: the practice of consuming large quantities of food – usually “comfort” or junk foods – in response to feelings instead of hunger.
There is masses of research, giving ‘proper’ (what we call proper; control groups, large enough studies, impartial data gathering) data – which suggest that ’emotional eating’ is caused by unresolved emotions.
(Actually positive emotions can also cause the extra eating, but in a much smaller number of people, so we’ll deal with that another time)
But – as it’s our way… let’s get PRACTICAL and REAL-LIFE about things.
Here are five MAIN triggers that people to eat the food… they later wish they hadn’t.
1. Getting Hungry.
Frantic mornings with children, days that overrun, working through lunch to meet deadlines or even making sure everyone else is organised and fed…
You can put yourself so low on the priority list that your own food becomes an afterthought.
When you’re hungry, your brain (after politely ‘ahem-ing’ to you all day) will eventually shout:
“GIVE ME THE HIGHEST CALORIFIC, FATTIEST QUICKEST FOOD NOW or so help me – I am going on strike.”
Getting hungry makes you eat much more than you would have had you eaten regularly – and you will automatically choose the sorts of things that will make you put on weight.
So whilst not ’emotional’ exactly – the frantic nature and stress of a hectic schedule, will make you eat in a way you wouldn’t normally do.
2. The ‘Sod It Factor’
Bingeing can be a way of punishing yourself.
Someone typed the following, rather harrowing sentence in an application form for The Project recently:
“I feel SO FAT, such a failure, so disgusting, pointless and worthless it’s like I go on a binge – to PROVE IT.
It’s as though we subconsciously want to ‘teach our bodies a lesson’.
Why would I give healthy food to a body like this?
What’s the point? I don’t deserve it.
YES, I want to Supersize that and YES I will have a chocolate muffin with my latte.
The active ingredient here is self-loathing, with a side order of guilt.
Sadly, these make up an emotional undercurrent in today’s psyche – building self esteem and confidence, genuinely makes a massive difference here.
Confidence, self-esteem, anxiety and binge eating are inextricably linked – and can very easily develop into more serious eating problems.
Being kind to yourself, scheduling enjoyable things daily, even simple ones like long baths, listening to music, meditating, country walks – will start to break this cycle.
3. Soothing Yourself.
Our brains release OPIOIDS when we eat sugary and fatty food.
This TEMPORARILY makes us feel all calm and soothed.
Opioids are the active ingredients in Cocaine and Heroin
This is why we use this kind of food to TREAT ourselves.
To celebrate. As a ‘naughty but nice’ indulgence.
The limbic area of your brain REMEMBERS how you feel after eating that stuff and it will always override the logical part of your brain – if it isn’t trained not to.
This makes you want more.
Literally CRAVE more.
Its feels as though your body can hear the sugary snacks calling to you from the kitchen, just as your stomach was rumbling when you were stressed.
This ingrained pattern can feel as tough to crack as a drug addiction.
Simple willpower just doesn’t cut it.
You feel a negative emotion; the food releases a pleasurable emotion – and as your limbic brain’s job is to keep you safe and happy – the food wins.
It’s an understandable instinct and you end up feeling as though you’ve failed.
4. Avoiding the Truth
You put a brave face on.
Being like the perfect mum/wife Stiff upper lip.
If things have gone to hell in a handcart (which they will at some point, what with being a human and so on) – something has to give.
You can sit and explore your emotional lanscape and take practical steps to tackle an issue.
Or far easier – to get that feel-good factor is to dive head first into a tub of Haagen Dazs.
If you’ve had a tough day or there just have been NOTHING you had really enjoyed – a ‘treat’ can simply make you feel better. But only for a little while.
Picking at your dinner after you’ve finished.
Going back to the buffet over and over…
A cheeky chunk of cheese on the way past the fridge.
Sitting in front of the TV eats easy not to notice a whole Galaxy disappear.
Not being conscious of what you eat is Mindless eating and its the easiest thing in the World
Emotional Eating-wise – the emotion is possibly boredom, but it’s actually more of a lack of attention.
The good news about habits, is if they were learned – then they can be UNlearned.
We set a challenge recently in our FREE FB group, where we tasked with photographing EVERY single thing that passed their lips for 7 days.
All food, all drinks; a quick snap to review at the end of the week.
Every single woman was SHOCKED at what they actually ate – and how that added up.
It was the first and actually most crucial factor in making the changes.
They started to stop and think: I don’t want THAT photo on my phone.
Am I actually hungry? Do I need that? Will I be glad I ate that?
What lead to that? How was I feeling when that happened? And so on.
It wasn’t a diet plan telling them what to eat.
They always fail in the end – even though the diet industry is a multi-billion pounds one.
(If any actually worked – we wouldn’t need all the others)
It was they themselves, overriding unconscious behaviours, recognising and changing their emotional state – and actively making conscious choices.
Quote from the group: (re: Claire and I)
Damn you! This can’t be undone! I don’t want to let myself down now – you two are SO sneaky”
Only slightly sneaky – however it did the trick.
4 + 5 Is what Wise & Gorgeous are MOST interested in.
Because sorting out 4 + 5 is what sorts out 1-3.
Mindfulness teaches you to know how you feel.
To give it a name.
..and to know what you are doing.
To decide and to choose and to taste and savour.
and know when to STOP naturally.
This stuff can be learned.
Have you got a raisin? And a few minutes?
GO and get one – and come back and listen to the short recording below.
Use it whenever you eat.
This one simple technique can help you eat the RIGHT amount, without counting or feeling
And try the photographing challenge yourself and see what happens.
And if you want to join us on for a 6 month journey together with a small group of women like youto sort things out; Mind, Mood, Body & Food… WITH actual science and continued support – and sneaky ways we’ll keep you motivated.
We reopen the doors in January.
You can get on the early bird notification list HERE