Health: How to Combat Comfort Eating to Lose Weight
Updated: May 28
One of the main contributors to weight gain is emotional eating.
We've all been there, think Bridget Jones with a tub of ice-cream. That time I sat on the kitchen floor eating grated cheese out of the bag with a spoon. There's nothing quite like that first bite of chocolate when you're feeling down.
I am personally not a 'worry eater'. If I'm worried I can't eat at all, but on the other hand sadness, depression and anxiety have lots of women, myself included, running to the fridge or raiding the cupboards to help ease those feelings of despair.
Emotional eating is usually something that is formed as a habit. As a baby, we cry and we are fed, we associate popcorn with the cinema, hot dogs with the fair, chocolate with Easter - You get the point. We link it and it becomes a habit, the same goes for comfort eating or emotional eating as it's also known.
The long term effects however can be far from comforting, as the weight creeps on. If you're trying to control your weight or shed the pounds it can also cause you to feel guilt, frustration and shame. You feel down and so you comfort eat. It can become a vicious circle., sending you back to the fridge for seconds and thirds.
There are however ways to deal with those moments that don't involve food.
Try to acknowledge and address the emotion. Phone up a friend and have a natter to ease loneliness and take your mind off food. If you're self-conscious about ringing out of the blue, then text them or message them on social media.
Get on your bike, join the gym or take a class. Maybe there's a sport or activity you've been wanting to try for years but never got up the courage. Maybe it's Zumba or Karate? Don't automatically think you can't do it, you never know until you try. If it works for you - great. If not, try something else. If you're body-conscious then start from home. There are thousands of tutorials on YouTube. I personally like the Joe Wicks HIIT workouts. 25 minutes and you're done. Try something like that to build your energy and confidence. There are also tons of apps on your phone to help you train, such as Couch to 5k, Strava and Goals. I've often started a workout hungry and by the time I've finished, it's staved off the craving.
Look at photos of a time you were happy. Your last holiday maybe? The body doesn't know the difference between the emotion of current happy experiences and the past, so both will have the same effect on your well-being. Photos can also take your mind off the snacks as you reminisce. Some people use photos as a deterrent too. Stick a photo on the fridge, or somewhere you can see it. Keep it as your screensaver may be of either you at your ideal weight at a time you felt good or you overweight and unhappy. Either should make you think twice before indulging.
Watch a Comedy
This uses the same principle as above and the same principle as laughter therapy. If something makes you laugh the body isn't distinguishing it between an actual live event and what's on screen. The same endorphins will be released.
Do a hobby
Gardening, planting flowers and plants can be calming. Basically, anything that requires concentration and something to do with your hands helps. Some people for example take up knitting or crochet, so it can be the ideal time to learn a new skill too. Try reading a book and concentrating on the story, painting the scenes in your mind, or writing. As I write this now, I had huge hunger pangs before I started. They near enough disappeared when I started thinking and typing, only coming back now because I'm thinking about being hungry.
Try Headspace or meditation.
Headspace has been used in a number of clinical trials investigating the effects of mindfulness training. In one such study, researchers examined the impact of mindfulness on workplace stress in two major multi-national corporations, using the Headspace app as the intervention. The study found a significant increase in wellbeing, reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms, significant reductions in diastolic blood pressures, significant increases in perceived job control, as well as a significant reduction in sleeping problems. Clearing your head and meditating can combat those thoughts of food. Another option is to use wellness supplements, which can be affordable by using Gundry MD discounts that are available. These products are known to give Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Energy nutrients which are super beneficial for the mind, and also support weight loss.
Reward yourself another way
'If you're good, you can have some sweets'. We've been rewarded with food from an early age. Bad day - food. Good day - celebrate with food. If you are trying to lose weight, try and plan to reward yourself with something else. Go window shopping on the internet. Treat yourself to some new clothes to show of your new body, anything other than thinking that because you've walked to the cake shop, that makes it ok. So, watch your favourite film, and pamper yourself with a home spa session, because you've earned it.
So, give my tips a go. I'd love to know what ideas you use to combat emotional eating?