Today we welcome our very dear girlfriend, Laura E as a new contributor to Gorgeous Things. Laura E is a Nutritionist, a Personal Trainer and a gorgeous girl who has had her fair share of battles with food and her weight. She’ll tell you about her journey and give you the skills you need to overcome emotional eating and repair your relationship with food forever. LA is currently working with Laura E on a few of her own ‘issues’ – and getting fabulous results! (Yep, I’m beach running now! – Ed)
Nutritionist and Intuitive Eating Guide
Intuitive Eating: a guide to overcoming and preventing emotional eating
As someone who was an emotional eater I know what it’s like to use food to cope with difficult emotions. I also know the feelings of being out of control and thinking there must be a healthier way to cope. The after effect of using food to cope comes with unwanted weight gain and poor health, mentally and physically.
Bottling up your feelings, pushing them down with food is like leaving a sink full of dishes for days and days. Eventually there will be a mess you will have to deal with. Experiencing emotions is inevitable, emotional eating however is a choice.
Which of these symptoms do you have of emotional eating?
- Sharp cravings
- Demand food immediately
- Sudden and urgent cravings
- Eating when not hungry
- Eating really fast
- Eating immediately after getting home
- Eating until uncomfortably full
- Feelings of guilt, disgust and depression afterwards
- Mindless eating
- Sneaking food when no-ones around
Healthy Ways to Cope with your Emotions
Everyone is different and for that reason there are many different healthy coping mechanisms.
- Forget dieting – Whenever you eliminate certain foods from your diet, it’s like giving a toy to a 3 year old and telling them they cant play with it. Biologically, dieting goes against everything our bodies are designed to do. When you are emotional, those foods on your forbidden list become so much more appealing. What you tell yourself you can’t have suddenly becomes a simple and instant solution to you needing to feel better.
- It’s not just about your mouth – While enjoying everything you eat is important, so is what will best satisfy your whole body. Think about what type of food your stomach wants, how much will satisfy it to leave it feeling just right.
- Aim to finish feeling good – Before you eat, ask yourself “How do i want to feel when I’m done, mentally and physically, now and later?” The ideal type of meal or snack to have is one that leaves you feeling good for a few hours.
- Recognise your triggers – It’s so much easier to change a negative behaviour when you are aware of what triggers it. What situations are you more vulnerable to using food to cope with your emotions? When watching TV, on weekends, after work, after a fight, after dinner or after having a few drinks?
- Be aware of the times of day you are more likely to overeat or eat when you are not hungry. Make sure you have something to do that will make you feel fulfilled and nourished so you are less likely to fill the void with food.
- Countermanding action for risky situations (“if this happens I will do this”) – Create healthier alternatives that are do-able for you. Can you go for a walk or to the gym when you are feeling stressed? Could you go on the way home from work so you can deal with work stress in a good way? Could you call a friend when you are feeling lonely and need to speak to someone? Will music help you to lift you up when you are feeling low? Only you know what will work best for you.
- Question your actions – What’s bothering me? What do i really want to chew on? What’s irritating, stressing or frustrating me? Will eating change this issue? Giving yourself a chance to be aware of what’s going on is a great step in making a healthier choice.
- Practice not reacting – As an emotional eater, you tend to reach for food instantly as a solution. It really is as if you are sleep walking into eating. Giving yourself a few minutes to just sit in the feeling can be an extremely powerful way of creating healthier habits. Practicing non-reactive eating means allowing yourself to feel the feeling and not eating instantly, telling yourself you are free to eat whatever it is you want to eat but first, commit to 5-10mins of just sitting still.
- Eating awareness and connecting with your food – When you eat while doing other things such as working or watching TV, you are putting yourself in a state of disconnection from your body. In this state it is easy to not listen to the natural signals your body is sending you. Try being fully aware when you’re eating. The more present and aware you are when you eat, the less likely you are to eat something mindlessly later on.
When you eat, try and think about these things…
a) Chewing slowly
b) Sitting down, no matter what you are eating
c) Eating in the same place
d) Activity – not doing anything but eating
e) Enjoyment – stopping to make sure you are actually enjoying what you are eating
Making the choice to try something different when you are emotional can be hard at first. However, when you start listening to your body more and stop being driven to food by your emotions, you begin to deal with things in such a healthier way and feel the great effect that has on your mental and physical health!
You can visit Laura E’s NUTRIZIONE website to learn more about Intuitive Eating and healthy nutritious food.