Have you ever had a bad day at work or received some bad news and then this led to you indulging and overeating?
Typically, the emotions that precede overeating have been described as –
These are all classed as negative moods. These moods usually have in common low energy and increased tension. When people attempt to change these negative moods with food they tend to overeat.
The reason why these negative moods lead us to eat is because they make us feel uncomfortable and when uncomfortable feelings occur we naturally try to change them to feel better. Eating is the easiest way to feel better and it makes us feel better right away.
Good-tasting food such as simple sugars and fats tend to metabolise quickly and raise our blood sugar quickly resulting in energy as the immediate result. This energy counteracts the tense tiredness that we might be feeling.
However, the more times we eat as a way of escaping our bad moods, the stronger the habit becomes. It’s not too late to break this habit though and here are a couple of tips to help manage and reduce emotional eating and, most importantly, regain control.
Becoming aware of daily cycles of energy and tension and other triggers that result in emotional eating can help you with controlling the issue. You can do this by writing down each time you emotionally eat and how you felt prior to doing so. Try and detect patterns to your emotional eating with the help of the food diary and by using the food urges diary template included in this booklet. With the ability to predict comes the power to control!
Exercise can reduce the urge to snack. A study has shown that after just a brisk five minute walk the urge to eat sugary snacks is decreased. Energy levels were also increased and feelings of tension decreased after the walk. Just a small amount of exercise has been shown to shift mood towards calm energy and when in this mood state food urges are not nearly as common.
It is a good idea to keep reading over these pages throughout the next six weeks. If you wish to discuss any of the above in more detail, don’t forget your course includes a half hour appointment with Sara at The Well Nest.
Written by Sara Dewhurst, trainee Health Psychologist