Are you an emotional eater?
We all know the formula for losing weight – eat less and exercise more – and every single diet and sliming regime is nothing more than a variation of this theme. So if we all know what we should do, why is it so hard to eat less and exercise more?
Certain foods release chemicals that cause us to feel relaxed and happy. If we are stressed we will crave those foods for the chemical response they trigger. So here are some ways to help you cope with stress that can keep you from scoffing the chocs.
1. Stay conscious
Most emotional or comfort eating is a knee-jerk reaction. We know we are doing it, but are not fully conscious of actually doing it. Next time you find yourself eating when you are stressed, pause and do it with full consciousness. You may still eat the food, but you will soon find that you no longer want to comfort eat, or that you stop eating sooner.
2. Take notice
Emotional eating is a way we suppress our emotions. We try to distract ourselves from them by eating. Unfortunately it doesn’t work very well – not only does the stress come back, but it’s usually compounded by additional feelings of guilt for eating food we don’t need. Instead, pay full attention to the emotions you are feeling. Ask yourself:
What am I feeling now?
Where do I feel this in my body?
Does it have a shape or colour?
Does it have a voice? What would it say?
What does it want for me (that is positive)?
3. And breathe…
When we are stressed we breathe shallow and high in the chest. If you breathe low, slow and deep you will relax. Take a deep, slow breath. Keep breathing, very deep and very slow. Now, notice that you feel more relaxed.
4. Silence is golden
We are bombarded by sensory overload and most people very rarely allow themselves time for their thoughts. Sit in silence (no reading), for at least five minutes, and ideally 20 minutes each day, close your eyes and do this sitting up rather than lying. This is a simple form of meditation, the emotional and physical health benefits of which have been well researched and proven.
5. Pay attention to what you want
It is only possible to feel anxious or stressed when you are paying attention to things NOT being the way you want. So the next time you feel stressed, worried or anxious, change your thoughts away from what you DON’T want and towards what you DO want.
6. Have a laugh
Do something every day that makes you laugh. Laughter triggers a variety of chemical changes in the brain and body that neutralise stress so watch a funny movie, or TV show, or get together with mates who make you laugh.
7. Work out your problems
Exercise reduces the chemicals and hormones associated with stress, and increases those that generate feelings of well-being. Exercise lifts our mood and literally ‘works out’ all our problems.
Dr Lisa Turner is a personal transformation coach and trainer. To find out more visit psycademy.co.uk