Updated: May 27
Train your mind to turn to different forms of comfort.
There are various emotionally related reasons that see people turning to food for relief or comfort.
When emotions are high for whatever reason, whether we realise it or not, we usually become stressed.
When we are stressed out, our body is flooded with cortisol (a stress hormone). Cortisol makes us crave carbs, sugar and fatty foods. Foods that give a burst of energy and pleasure. These kinds of foods are soothing due to the chemical changes they create in our body.
The more uncontrolled stress in our life, the more likely we are to turn to food for emotional relief. When we are unable to control the stress and what causes it, it means more focus needs to be placed on how it's managed and dealt with.
Practice techniques that help relieve your stress levels, that dont involve eating. I could suggest a hundred ideas but unless they interest you they wont be any good for you. I suggest writing a list of things you enjoy doing. Don’t try think of things that help relieve your stress, instead simply think of things you enjoy. Quick, easy things that help preoccupy your mind. And they don't have to be exercise related!
They can be things like drawing, writing, taking photos, doing puzzles, findawords, running, walking, riding, meditating, reading, cleaning, picking flowers in the garden, literally anything you enjoy that does not involve food.
Once you have the list of things you enjoy, you now have a list of things that put you in a peaceful place. Next time you feel stressed, frustrated, emotional you now have a list of things that you can do to make you feel better. Things you don’t have to think about because you’ve already written the list so you can just choose something and go.
If you don't have the list and need to stop and think about things, you will most likely give in to the easy way out and hit the pantry or fridge. Most times it doesn't have to be more than a few minutes of positive distraction for our stress and cortisol levels to decrease and the moment of needing that fix passes. Even just walking away, taking some deep breaths or having a laugh over something can sometimes help.
Other more food related tips I recommend is to have some healthy snacks on hand so if you can't find something to distract you from eating at least you are eating good foods. Things like high protein snacks or even make yourself a green tea. Sipping the hot tea will help distract you and usually takes a while to do which allows the stress levels to decrease. Also try some chewing gum, it's hard to eat when you have chewy in your mouth! Plus it usually passes the time and cravings.
All this is all well and good to say however I understand it is often easier said than done. Just keep in mind, you are eating because you are stressed, not hungry. This makes it a comfort, therefore it is just a matter of training your mind to turn to other forms of comfort. It may take some time, but stick at it. Once you become in control of it you will feel so much more powerful!
Fact: Men emotionally eat too! Believe it or not, this is true. I find this something important to be mindful of.