Dealing with Emotional Eating

woman with chocolateIf you are anything like me, you turn to food in times of joy, sorrow, boredom, fatigue, anger, or pretty much any time you feel like you need something to change how you feel.

Some of this is cultural – every holiday has its own traditional foods, and we wouldn’t want to have it any other way. Many of our fondest childhood memories are bound up with the tastes and smells of traditional holiday food.

However, none of this explains why we find ourselves with our heads in the refrigerator at 11 o’clock at night when our bodies are clearly demanding sleep instead, or why we turn to ice cream, potato chips or other foods that clearly don’t serve us when we are emotionally agitated. What’s up with that?

One of my favourite authors in the self-help sphere is Tony Robbins. Among his many thought-provoking ideas, Tony postulates that we can change how we feel by changing our state – in other words, if we are feeling sad, we can change our emotions by changing our thoughts or our physical state. We can change the words we bring to the situation (instead of “Why does this always happen to me?” we can ask, “How can I grow?”). We can change our posture (it’s impossible to feel down while in the Wonder Woman stance!).

Or we can eat.

Eating, especially fatty or carbohydrate-rich foods, will definitely change our emotional state. It does the job of helping us feel better at that moment. But does it serve us in the long run to eat when we are not physically hungry? What else can we do to feel better emotionally, without damaging our health in the long run?

Emotional eating can be one of the hardest habits to break, because it is so ingrained from childhood (skinned knee? Here, have a cookie!). But it is not impossible.

Stay tuned …

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