I am sure I am not alone when I tell you that there have been many times I have opened the fridge in search of something to quench my mood. Whether it be to make me feel comforted, to make me feel happy or simply because I was feeling bored. It can start off innocent enough, with perhaps a banana, a few veggie sticks and some dip, but then I move onto the cheeses and before I know it I am chowing down on a block of chocolate and a bag of crisps!
It doesn’t help that many companies use media and advertising to actually form a connection between emotions and food. They imply that certain foods will make you happy, comforted, creative, and excited or bring people closer together.
So how do we overcome the urge to reach for the fridge door when our mood wavers from contentment?
Recognise triggers - When we are feeling emotional, it can be really difficult to step back and recognise what is going on, because we are so caught up in how we are feeling. However learning to recognise what the triggers are that cause us to emotionally eat is key to learning to avoid it. Perhaps it is after a conflict at work or with a friend or family member? Or when you have had a bad day? Or when you have nothing planned for your day? Take some time to reflect back over what your triggers might be.
Allow yourself to feel - When you recognise that you are reaching for food not to satisfy an actual hunger but instead to feed an emotion, then it is important to stop and reflect on what emotions you are feeling. Whether it be sadness, loneliness, frustration, hurt, anger or boredom these are emotions that need to be reflected on and experienced to some degree. It is ok to feel! Let yourself feel these emotions and try to explore the root of where they are coming from. Eating might feel good at the time, but it will not resolve the issue, and will only add regret on top!
Invite more pleasure into your life - Having pleasure in your life is important, whether it be making time to soak in a bubble bath, to go for a walk along the beach, watch a movie or simply have fresh sheets on your bed! It is the little things that add up to make our lives enjoyable. Even if, like me, you love your food, it is important to cultivate other ‘pleasure outlets’ into your life. So that when you are feeling a bit emotionally wobbly, you go to reaction isn’t to walk into the pantry. Personally I have three go to emotionally comforting activities that I enjoy, depending on how I am feeling.
- Lie in the sun with a book
- Soak in a bath with oils and music
- Go for a run/do a workout
No matter how I am feeling emotionally, one of these usually does the trick to help me unwind, relax and feel better.
What are your go to emotionally comforting activities?