“I’m sad… where’s the pizza?”
It’s not quite the thought process, but it definitely has meaning! Emotional eating is a problem many women encounter, and it can stem from a variety of issues. From worries about work, relationships, finances, or even self – a lot of the time our sadness or stress can leave us feeling unfulfilled. So… we turn to food.
We know it slows our progress, we know it’s only a temporary fix, and we know that in the long run it doesn’t help us feel any better. But in that moment, that single moment of emotional emptiness, food fills the void. It provides a sensation of ‘fullness’ that we otherwise, don’t feel emotionally within ourselves.
Now although this issue is common, it does not mean it is healthy. It does not mean, that you cannot break the cycle. It does not mean that you should continue to view this as ‘normal’ or as a small, ‘habit’. This is something you should address for your overall wellbeing – or you will continue to fall into the rabbit-hole of using food to fill a void that should really be filled by your own self-worth.
The first steps
The first thing to do once you come to the realisation that you are in an emotional eating cycle, is to identify what triggers you. What are some situations, places, events, or even people that make you feel the way you do, in order to cause your emotional eating?
Are you stressing about something? Stress isn’t just a ‘feeling’ – it’s a hormone! High levels of stress trigger the production of cortisol (the stress hormone), and you’re led to crave sweet, salty and fatty fried foods. If you’re in a stressful situation or time of your life, try to minimise how much you are affected. Mind over matter – and yes, we know that this is easier said than done… but here is a trick that can show you the POWER of your mind; smile. Force it. Even if you want to cry or are already crying – smile for 10 seconds. Now that 10 seconds have passed, LAUGH. Force a laugh if you have to. Not a giggle – a proper, belly laugh that makes your shoulders move. Do this for as long as you can… Do you feel better? You should. But if you don’t, at least know that you tricked your brain to focus on 30 seconds of positivity in a moment of complete sadness or frustration. That 30 seconds could be the difference between choosing to eat a Big Mac Meal, or going on with your day. Even if you don’t feel better in the long term, you focused on one positive thing today – and that my love, is a WIN.
Are you bored? Emotional eating can stem from boredom. You feel empty, have nothing to do, nothing to occupy you, nothing to stop you from walking to the fridge or pantry and snacking mindlessly. Find a hobby! As silly as it sounds, and as simple as it may seem – find something to occupy your hands and stimulate your mind. Read a book. Join a spin class. Pick up painting. Write a blog! Anything that occupies those two things – your brain and your hands!
Finally, have you formed a childhood habit? If you were rewarded as a child with sweets or food when you did the right thing, or if you ate when you felt sad from a young age… your emotional eating could be linked to your childhood. This type of emotional eating is most difficult to break and along with the tips above, we recommend you seek professional advice too. There is no shame in trying to find help for yourself when you’re in a situation that you struggle to control.
Overall, ladies, just be aware. Emotional eating is a problem a lot of us face. But once again, just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to help yourself. Look into hobbies, mind over matter, self-love and even professional help if necessary. Or even just talk to someone about it. With this issue being so prevalent amongst women, speaking to your girlfriends about it could help you overcome it yourself.
We are all here to support one another.