‘Emotional Eating’ by Kelly Arbuckle published in Great Health Guide (Sep 2016). Do you find yourself reaching for comfort food or eating in large quantities when you are unhappy? This could be a sign of emotional eating & could lead to creating an unhealthy relationship with food. Kelly has some really good advice about tackling emotional eating for good.
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MINDSET: Emotional Eating
written by Kelly Arbuckle
There’s nothing better than devouring a bar of chocolate after a hard day at work, or having that extra scoop of ice-cream for dessert because we’re in a bad mood and need something to make us feel happy. However, it can turn into a dangerous spiral, if these emotional eating habits turn into an everyday occurrence and we begin to depend on food as a way to make us feel better about ourselves.
When an individual suffers from emotional eating and seeks comfort in food, they are creating an unhealthy relationship with food which will ultimately result in one or all of the following health problems:
Weight-gain: Nine times out of ten, emotional eating and comfort food involves eating foods with a high sugar and/or fat content. It can also lead to binge eating. Consuming high fat or sugar content has an immediate effect on both the brain and digestive system – physically and mentally – and can lead to addiction-like-habits such as craving sugar at a certain time of day. Consuming more sugar and fat than your body needs, will cause your body to create unnecessary fat cells. This can lead to other health problems such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
Mental Health: Emotional eating is an emotional issue. It is not something your body is physically asking for or needs for nutritional value. It can turn into quite a vicious cycle for those who are susceptible to emotional eating as they will, more than likely, be susceptible to other mental health illnesses such as anxiety and depression. Eating the wrong food, especially with a high sugar content is a big trigger for anxiety, leaving the person feeling flat, guilty, worried and sometimes even angry at themselves after the ‘sugar high’ has worn off.
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Insomnia: For whatever reason, most emotional eating happens in the evening or sometimes even very early in the morning. This is creating a perfect storm for insomnia by disrupting the body’s natural body clock and by stimulating the brain and the digestive system at a time when it is programmed for resting and repairing.
Try some of the following steps:
Don’t use food as a reward or comfort for yourself: Find something else that you can use as a distraction mechanism. Read a novel, begin a project such as a photo book, paint a picture – anything creative that can reward your senses, calm your nerves and distract your mind from food cravings.
Be mindful in your eating: Take time to think about what you’re putting on your plate and into your mouth. Create a routine for eating your meals in order to reduce snacking and emotional eating.
For example, every time you eat at home, sit and eat at the dining room table and consider if your body really needs this ‘meal’. It can become easy to disregard comfort food as a meal when you’re sitting on the couch snacking or eating in bed. Sitting at the table will encourage you to stop, think and be accountable for your actions.
Exercise: This is the key to a healthy body and mind. If you exercise every day, even if it’s a twenty-minute walk, will help get the blood flowing, burn off fat and get your body functioning properly. Having a regular routine of exercise will help your body clock move into a proper rhythm, reduce stress, reduce anxiety and help you sleep better.
Author of this article:
Kelly Arbuckle BA (Psych) has completed a Bachelor of Psychology and has a particular interest in the direct link between poor diets and stress related health issues. Kelly is also the CEO, inventor and co-founder of The Waitplate System, a system specifically designed to aid correct eating behavior.
by Lola Berry
Paperback. Published 2016.