Can’t stop emotional eating?
Most people think that emotional eaters only eat when they are sad or unhappy about something in their lives and that they have no self-control as to what they put in their mouths. I my opinion, this is rarely the case.
If it were a matter of self-control than helping emotional eaters would be a piece of cake (pardon the pun)! A hypnotherapy session on self-control would be easy, fast and an effective way to achieve lasting results but, there are more factors contributing to emotional eating than just self-control.
I have worked with many emotional eaters who revert to emotional hunger when they are stressed, happy, challenged, celebrating, bored, driving or watching TV to name but a few.
Regardless of which emotion sets them off, they usually turn to comfort foods which are either sugary or savoury – high-calorie and high – carbohydrate. Eating sugars and fats release opioids in their brains giving off the “feel good factor”, so they look forward to their next mouthful.
Just try this little experiment- eat an ice cream and see if it leaves you feeling calm and happy and in the “feel good” zone?
First, emotional eaters are stimulated by triggers and these psychological triggers engage their eating behaviour. Once these triggers are stimulated, emotional eaters are blissfully unaware of what they are eating or why? An example of this is picking when you’ve done with a meal or simply putting food into your mouth just because it is there. It is only when they feel bloated and too full to feel comfortable that they realise what they have done and then the remorse sets in.
An issue of self-control – no, it’s more like not being in the moment and being unaware.
Second, right from a young age we learned to distract ourselves with food from difficult feelings. Perhaps you had a loving Granny who gave you sweets each time you cried, or you wanted to spend time with your Dad and he was too busy, so he pushed you out the door with a bag of chips….. sound familiar?
You associated difficult feelings with food that made you feel good. You looked to food (the wrong sort of food) as a substitute for love and your emotional eating habit was born.
Third, 95% of my clients who are emotional eaters have told me that they hate their own body and would only like their body once they had lost weight and reached their desired weight loss goal. This is in-side out reasoning – better results are achieved when you love your body first. You need to stop hating your body before you can stop the emotional eating roller coaster.
Fourth, stop medicating yourselves with food. It is important to re-learn your hungry signals- when it’s time to eat and when it’s not. Are you thirsty or are you hungry? There is a big difference. Because we are constantly putting food into our bodies, the stomach rarely has a chance to send the brain the right signal about hunger. Next time you think you feel hungry ask yourself is the signal coming from the stomach or from the head?
So how can you tell the difference? Hunger pains (physical) come on slowly and emotional pain comes very quickly. If it is coming from the stomach eat something healthy. If it is coming from the head – sit with the emotion for a few minutes and work out where it came from. Once you analyse the feeling and label it, you can understand what’s behind it and take action.
Finally, next time you reach for something sweet to satisfy that emotional hunger, swap that ice cream or chocolate for for a piece of fruit. If you are looking for a savoury treat put some taco seasoning on a piece of celery or make some chilli popcorn. Better still if the emotions just won’t leave you alone, don’t eat but go to the gym instead and use a punching bag to release that tension.
Whatever you do, stop blaming yourself for your emotional need to eat. It is not your fault! Just faulty programming hot wired into your brain. And just like all wiring on any computer it can be rewired so that you can cope with your emotions.