How To Stop Comfort Eating All The Food
The Debrief: Dietician Kirsten tells us how to actually have some damn willpower
‘Comfort eating’ is when you eat or drink something because you are feeling a certain way. It's not always just about feeling down or sad though, it can also be linked to feelings of happiness and anger. The problem is though, the things we are often choosing to consume when we are emotional, are very rarely heathy in any way.
We're all guilty of comfort eating, but why? Is it because we are hungry? Is it because our body is low in a certain nutrient? Erm, no. It is quite simply a habit driven by our emotions and actually has no purpose at all. In fact, most of the time the emotions that initially drive us to eat end up in a worse place after consuming the food. So here's how to break the habit.
1. Give your willpower a ‘workout’
Try thinking of your willpower as though its a muscle in your body. Right now it is pretty weak because you've never really used it. However, over time you can use temptation as your weights for a real workout. Next time you are tempted by that donut at work why not wait 10 minutes before having it. After all they say cravings only last 10 minutes and so you'll probably find that you no longer want the donut in the end (maybe). The next time you're tempted, increase the amount of time you take before having that treat and before you know it, you'll be in control of your cravings.
2. Change your habitat
Change your environment to be healthy friendly by replacing your ice-cream and chocolate with healthier snacks such as fruit, cereal bars, nuts and popcorn at work or home. This way, when your emotions come knocking, you won’t be able to grab an unhealthy treat. Equally, you may want to get your work colleagues in on this, by suggesting everyone brings in 1 bag of fruit for the week instead of cakes and biscuits, so that the office can have a fruit bowl. Often your boss may even fund this as it promotes health eating thus a healthier workforce and less sick time they have to deal with (win-win).
3. Eat regularly
Often we work long days, which results in long time periods between meals. If you have a gap of more than around 3-4 hours, then you will be hungry (no matter how much you eat for breakfast). When you are hungry you naturally crave foods which are high in fat and sugar. So to prevent this from happening, plan in healthy snacks for mid-morning, mid-afternoon and on the way home from work (so you don’t gawb your evening meal).
If you aren’t getting a regular 8 hours sleep EVERY NIGHT, then you most certainly will start to crave sugary foods as a source of energy. Not only this, but being tired will make you feel ‘down’ which will again lead to you seeking comfort foods in order to feel better.
5. Cold turkey doesn’t work
Again most of us have been guilty of trying to lose weight/ look better with the idea of ‘I am never going to eat icecream/chocolate/crisps/sweets.’ So we are all walking around with our perfect body’s right? No! This is simply because, banning a certain food/drink from your life may last a few hours, even a few weeks if you really have the whole self control thing down. BUT, eventually this kind of attitude will lead to a binge. Bingeing is one of the aspects of emotional eating that you must not get involved with.This behaviour leads to a nasty cycle of binge-guilt-emotions-binge-guilt-emotions-binge etc. So instead, allow yourself the odd treat in a controlled way; Plan the treat in, have a regular portion and don’t have it every day. 1 piece of cake/ bowl of icecream/ chocolate bar will not make you gain weight.
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Picture: Eugenia Loli
At work? With your gran?
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