You could look up various definitions of what an emotional eater is but the bottom line is if you eat when you are stressed, lonely, upset, cross, bored, don’t eat all day at work and then binge eat when you come home from work or to fill some gap you are feeling then that’s emotional eating.
Everyone I have ever spoken to about it has acknowledged we have all eaten emotionally at one point or another in our lives. I don’t know the statistics on women vs. men but from experience it seems to be more of a ‘thing’ for women than men. Food is comfort in many cases it is love and it could be how we experienced love as a child. ‘ You are good, here is an ice cream, chocolate, cake…etc’
I remember as a child that whenever I went round to my grandmothers she had baked us a delicious fresh cake for tea. That was one way she was showing me love and that was a lovely thing and I have such happy memories of it.
Thinking back to the times in my life when I remember that I ate emotionally a lot, there were a few! Firstly, when I au paired in Switzerland for 8 months after school. I ate a lot of chocolate in my room on my own, I was 17 yrs and that was my comfort! Then another 4 months in London binging on loads of bowls of Alpine muesli did it too (comfort again) and looking back at the pictures of myself a year later, I got really fat as a result. Not surprisingly, knowing what I know now about both and sugar!!!
I then got to Uni & despite all the drinking and partying, I got into rowing and lost all the weight. I was happy and busy and emotional eating wasn’t a thing for me.
The next time was 24 yrs after Uni and back in London. I had been in London for a year already, working but I put on weight again. This time it did have something to do with the drinking, sitting at work and not eating the right things. Looking back I wasn’t happy again, wasn’t comfortable in myself and my life choices. I did some work on myself and the weight dropped off as did the need to eat emotionally.
Rather than bore you with every period of my own emotional eating, fast forward to two young children later and 6 months after I left a successful corporate job to begin my journey as an entrepreneur as a ‘Health Coach’. I wasn’t yet making the money I used to in my corporate job, I was at home alone and I didn’t have the confidence behind my plan or structure of how I was going to make it work. I was having an internal ‘wobble’. I again noticed I was eating emotionally but this time it was nut butters and nuts rather than chocolate ( I didn’t put on weight, this time as caught my pattern and luckily had the insight & self awareness and willingness to recognise what was going on)
I still have the odd period where I notice this happening and this is how I catch myself and have the strength to break the cycle…
How to stop yourself from emotional eating?
1. Move out of the kitchen ( or wherever you are eating your thing)
2. Take your trigger food and throw it in the bin
3. Go and brush your teeth
4. Phone a friend
5. Have a picture up of yourself that you love. Go and look at that picture in the eye
6. Once you have removed yourself ask yourself what your trigger is…Get to know your trigger
7. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend if you found out he or she were treating their body in that way. Why are you doing it to yourself?
8. Write a note of love and appreciation to yourself to pull out if a ‘next time’ arises
I know my trigger is always fear, usually as avoidance for something, a tricky new piece of work, having to have a very difficult conversation or an emotional insecurity around something.
What is yours? I know you can break the cycle.
Love, courage and trust…