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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT EMOTIONAL EATING

Lets start with some common life scenarios:

1: You’ve broken up with your partner, its day 1 and all you start thinking about is the multi pack of magnum ice creams in the freezer.

2: You’ve had a long day at work, and all you start thinking about is ordering a large Chinese takeaway when you get home.

3: You’ve been tagged in a bad photo on Facebook, and all you start thinking about is eating 4 cheeseburgers and all the fries, because “who cares”

4: You’ve been told by a relative that you look like you’ve gained weight, and all you start thinking about is demolishing the bakery aisle one shelf at a time whilst looking deeply into their eyes.

The question is why do we need to comfort eat when we are stressed or upset?

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New results in science have shown that compulsive over feeding can lead to deficits in your brain or reward circuit.

The chemical dopamine, plays a role in how people perceive their food. It is known as a pleasure chemical and is involved with reward motivated behaviour.

We all know there’s nothing heart pumping about having a packet of Doritos.

You won’t die if you decide not to eat them, but you know it will make you significantly happier for approximately 10 minutes.

That’s the short release of dopamine rushing around your body.


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The question is how do you eat on a day to day basis?

Might sound a little weird but we all follow different principles when it comes to eating food, so before you assess why you emotionally eat, you actually need to assess the style in which you eat.

We have put together a brief description of some of the ways that people view food and how they eat:

The controlled eater

Someone who consciously controls their food and calorie intake as a way of managing their body weight

The restrictive eater

Someone who enjoys certain foods/food groups, but restricts themselves from eating them as they think they are the enemy

The over eater

Someone who doesn’t understand or accept calories in vs calories out.  Whose portions sizes have led them to carry excess body fat.

The binge eater

Someone who’s diet is too restrictive which means they end up binging on the foods they have been desperate to eat.

The triggered eater

Someone who finds comfort in food when they are triggered by a situation, or by their senses (seeing, smelling, tasting)

For some, eating a meal is entirely down to the nutritional content sat on the plate in front of them, but for others, eating often isn’t to appease hunger but more for social or psychological reasons.

No matter which category you think you fit into, emotional eating is a way in which many people deal with their anxiety, depression, stress, boredom or unhappiness.

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Most of the time emotional eating is a craving for high calorie or highly palatable foods, that are usually calorie dense with little to no nutritional value.

You don’t hear of many people, who have had a bad day at work and reach for a packet of lettuce do you?

It’s no doubt that eating a meal can alter your emotional tendency and mood overall, having been scientifically proven to reduce how irritable you are feeling, as well as making you feel relaxed in the process.

There are also other aspects that can lead to a person emotionally eating, these include social and environmental cues.

Here are some prime examples of cues that can lead you to be eating, even when you’re not hungry.

Scenario 1: Your office has 10 boxes of doughnuts dropped off, you feel obliged to eat just one (maybe you wrap a couple in a napkin in case you fancied a taster later)

Scenario 2: You’re out for your friends birthday, you’ve got work in the morning so drive to the bar so you don’t have a drink. 8 hours later, 11 G&T’s you’re in an uber home.

Scenario 3: You’ve eaten a huge breakfast, didn’t want to have lunch. But its Sandras birthday in the office and theres a table booked at the local Italian. You end up eating the set 3 course meal.

How many times do you think you’ve eaten dinner, because its dinner time..

(think about that for a second)

So what can we actually do to help this vicious cycle?

With the years of us writing nutritional plans for clients, we have helped many figure out their own unique way of dealing with emotional eating.

Normally it comes down to one thing, being in control…

Keeping accountable for what you eat on a daily basis is not a bad a thing, especially if you are trying to change your physique. Whether this is writing a weekly food plan or tracking your calories. We have come to terms with the fact that without any control over your eating things will never change.

Only you can make this change, of course you can have help along the way but you’re the one who has to do the hard work.

What will help you get there is including foods in your diet that you really enjoy eating, whether that’s pasta, pizza or chocolate. Making educated  food choices, in the long term will lead to a better quality of lifestyle overall.

It doesn’t  matter what you eat, the only importance is how much you eat of it. If you have had a slight hiccup on plan, you don’t have to go completely off the rails.

The more you come to understand and embrace this concept, the easier the process will become.

 Until next time..

G&M