Emotional binge eating is something we have all done at one time or another in our lives, but problems arise when it becomes a habit. Just like smoking or drinking too much alcohol in an evening, it negatively affects our health when it becomes a ‘bad’ habit and is not in moderation.
Here are some tips to help you reduce emotional eating once and for all.
Avoid mindless eating by becoming aware of why you are eating
Before you look in the fridge or reach for the biscuit tin, ask yourself why you are eating. If you are eating because you feel depressed, lonely or because you are reacting to something or someone – do something else instead.
Replace emotional eating with a good habit
Like any bad habit or negative behaviour pattern, when you notice yourself taking those familiar steps towards emotional binge eating, do something else instead. Pop over to a friend’s house, mow the lawn, go for a brisk walk or telephone a friend for a chat.
Boost your mood and reduce anxiety with exercise
We all know exercise has a wealth of health benefits, but did you know it also boosts your mood and reduces stress and anxiety? Scientists have shown that after exercise, the body releases endorphins, our natural happy chemical into the blood stream. It also reduces cortisol levels in the blood – too much of which is caused by stress and anxiety. So start becoming more active and notice how much happier you naturally feel.
Eat normally and don’t try any fad diets
Stick to a healthy, balanced diet of 3 small meals a day, and 2 snacks in between. Don’t skip meals, don’t ditch a food group (such as no carbs or no dairy) and eat plenty of fruit and veg which are packed with vitamins and minerals which the body needs to feel good.
Finally, remember you are not alone
Most of us are programmed from a young age to equate food with a reward, and as we become teenagers and adults, we start to use food as a tool to make us feel better or comfort ourselves. So do not feel guilty or angry with yourself for emotional binge eating – just take steps to change your behaviour, because you can do it 🙂
By Lynda Hamilton
Lynda Hamilton is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist BSc, BHSc (N&D) at Hamilton Dietetics. If you would like to speak to a dietitian, get in touch with Sydney dietitian, Lynda Hamilton.