Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Emotional Eating Vs Physical Hunger

Food is not just simply fuel we use to nourish our bodies; we use it as a focal point for family gatherings and social events. We eat out of need, want and so much more. Eating becomes habitual from a very young age, and as we grow older we use the foundations of those habits created & of course create some new ones! Some are good, such as eating every four hours, protein with each meal, whilst some are not so good, such as eating your entire days’ worth of calories between 8 & 9pm or feeling down so you finish the whole block of chocolate. We all know that food isn’t going to make you feel any better, so why do we create these bad habits, why do we turn to food in response to certain emotions & why is it always chocolate and high calorie foods? What can we do to prevent this from happening?

Why do we go for high fat, high energy density foods (ie cheese & chocolate)
Foods rich in carbohydrates such as chocolate, increase the rate in which tryptophan enters the brain thus increasing the level of serotonin (a neurotransmitter creates the “good feeling “. And Cheese contains casein which in some studies acts in the same way an opiate does causing a biochemical reaction that make us want to consume it. This elevation in mood is temporary though and when this effect wears off, they again revert to their previous state of mind.

Step1.  Awareness! Recognise & admit that you emotionally eat. 
Ask yourself …
Why you emotionally eat, do you use food to cover up your emotions rather than deal with them? 
Are you even hungry or are you eating to deal with whatever situation is happening right now?
What is triggering you to eat right now?
Once you have answered these questions remember….

Step2. Keep a food diary. By keeping record of when you eat you are more likely to notice patterns. If you ate emotionally, right it down, if you are feeling bloated after, write it down. This way you will know when you are most likely to emotionally eat & have triggers set in place to diffuse the behaviour. But first ask yoursel...
Why does a certain situation cause you to go for food?
What could you eat instead?
What activity could you do instead?

Step3. Don’t beat yourself up if this happens. It is only natural for us as humans to dwell on the negative behaviours of ourselves which causes nothing but self distruction! Instead if you find your self overeating ask yourself…

What triggered this to happen?
Why did I go for these foods & these amounts?
What could I do different next time?
What goal can I set for myself the next time I feel like this?

Accept it….and MOVE ON!!

Step4. New triggers. What can you do instead of eating when you are feeling stressed, angry, sad, lonely, bored or whichever emotion triggers you to eat. 

>Exercise is the best stress & anger relief. The harder you work, the better you feel. Exercise releases endorphins which make you happy.  (Which means it’s also great for when you’re feeling sad & bored)

>Breath: sometimes all it takes is a few deep breaths & removing yourself from the stressful situation, going for a 5minute walk, or out to some fresh air & this will leave you feeling less angry. 

>Music: Listening to music is also a good trigger for relieving stress (combine all 3 & you will feel great)

>Social interaction: Catching up with friends over coffee, going for a walk with them or simply speaking on the phone, internet will also help you reduce your incidence of emotional eating. Expressing your feelings is much healthier & productive than eating them

>New hobbies/activities: If you’re bored, try something new, i.e.: read a new book, try the Pilates class down the road you have always been talking about. Whatever it is you have been meaning to try, TRY IT!!

How to recognise if you are emotionally eating or you’re physically hungry….

*Don’t have things in the house you don’t want to eat
*Have healthy alternative snacks for when you emotionally eat = damage control
*Find new triggers