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Emotional Eating Disorder: Do you find yourself racing to the pantry when you’re feeling down or otherwise upset?

Emotional eating is something most of us will face at one point in our lives. We deal with our feelings on a day-to-day basis and there are going to be periods when these emotions are much complex than normal. This could be the consequence of anything from work stress to relationship problems to a discrepancy with a person or anything.

When the whole world is now going through a hard phase, people are dealing with job insecurity - so our stress levels are mounting. Even a generally calm person would be feeling worried in the current situation.

The difference is in how each person responds to stress. Some people may lose their appetite and hesitate to eat in a period of stress, but for others, their default response to stress is to find food and pursue comfort in the food.

What is emotional eating?

Emotional eating is when a person practices food as a source to control their emotions. Foods that we lean towards when we emotionally eat are often foods that are high in fat and salt, or high in sugar – they’re indeed highly processed. And while this gives us instantaneous fulfilment, the consequences of long-term exposure to this form of behavior is unsafe.

What causes emotional eating?

There are many reasons why someone might turn to food for comfort. It could be that it was deep-rooted during childhood when parents used food as a reward for good behavior.

It is also likely that this is cultured behavior from adulthood. Food often aids as a distraction so if someone is anxious or upset about something, they may select to emphasis on food instead of seeking help with the situation. If this is done adequate times it will become the custom habit to this kind of stress.

For some people, when their anxiety is rising, they just want to go and grab snacks like salty crisps or lollipops to crack that anxiety.

If is stress related in terms of feeling overwhelmed, they don’t know what to do so they throw in the towel and rush to the pantry.

How can we stop emotional eating?

If you’re someone struggling with emotional eating go for these steps to change your behavior.

Find your emotions 

Identify what emotions are causing comfort eating. Check in with yourself and notice what your emotions are. If you can find your emotions before they become really sensitive, you can intervene before it becomes challenging.

Consider keeping a journal of your feelings and the periods you feel obliged to eat and you might see a pattern appears.

Try breathing and meditation

In times of high emotion, your breathing rises and your heart rate goes up.  Put in place some approaches around breathing, or breathing exercises or take up meditation to assist your body.

Substitute activities

Rather than rushing for food for your emotions, form yourself a list of 10 different doings that you can do when you feel your emotions are rising.

These activities could include any of the following:

  • Home Exercises
  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • A walk around the premises
  • Body weight exercises in the park
  • Coloring
  • A jigsaw, sudoku or crossword
  • Knitting
  • Reading a book
  • Calling a friend
  • Journaling
  • Going on social media if you have a supportive group
  • Having a bath
  • Watching a movie
  • Listening to music
  • Playing with your pet

It’s all about finding ways that occupy your time and decrease those emotions back to a more ordinary level to escape comfort eating.


Get help with Cognitive Behavior Therapy

Know that for every person, it might not work the list of strategies to find help you get through emotional eating. Our expert Psychologists and counselling can help you learn to create a healthy relationship with food and your body. Our approach is integrative addressing the minds, body and emotional factors that can lead to emotional eating.





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