Starting a new healthy regime in the New Year? Here’s how to stop your emotions from hijacking your resolutions.
1. Stop waiting around
Boredom can be a major cause of overeating. Keep busy to avoid eating to fill a void. Do something that does not involve food — go for a walk, or meet friends.
2.Talk about your feelings
Ever felt sad but couldn’t quite put it into words? Emotional eating often starts with being unable to express how you feel and finding comfort in food instead. Nutritionist and dietitian Annemarie Aburrow, says: ‘Comfort eating is an attempt to soothe emotions, which may be around stress, loneliness, and anxiety.’ Talk about how you feel with a trusted friend.
3. Get moving
A brisk walk, a swim, a bike ride —they all boost endorphins, which are feel-good hormones. If you’re bored and considering reaching for the biscuits, try walking outside for 30 minutes. It should lift your mood enough to not crave sugar. Personal trainer and fitness expert Laura Williams, says: ‘Thirty minutes into any exercise session, you’re likely to feel you’ve dusted cobwebs away, mentally and emotionally.’
4. Avoid eating in front of the TV :
Sofa plus telly often equals food. This is fine once in a while, but doing it every night can cause weight gain and health problems. Keep your hands busy while watching TV — try a craft like knitting, or do your nails.
5. Keep a food and emotions diary
Most of us have no idea how many times we get up and go to the fridge or cupboard. A food diary — detailing every nut or biscuit — can make it clearer. Add how you feel to your diary — happy, sad, anxious — and then work out if a particular mood is causing you to eat, and the types of food you choose.
6. Get a thrill
Studies have found that sometimes we eat simply to ‘wake up’ our dopamine neurons. Dopamine is related to reward — it can be released when you’re shopping online and find the pair of shoes you want. When we’re bored, we often turn to food because eating releases dopamine. Get your hit elsewhere. Watch a favorite film, read a book or see a loved one.
7. Get help
If you feel that eating is out of control, don’t fight it alone. Boredom or comfort-eating can sometimes turn into binge-eating or bulimia. See your GP and ask to be referred to a counselor, or find an eating-disorder psychotherapist near you. Signs of emotional overeating can include eating in secret, buying lots of extra food and hiding food packaging.
8. Be kind to yourself if you’re heartbroken
Eating is the one thing many of us do after a break-up. TV personality Kerry Katona admits her weight has yo-yoed after relationship break-ups. Don’t be hard on yourself. Take your time and get back on track when you can.
9. Write worries down
Many of us eat when we’re stressed — and we make unhealthy food choices. If you find yourself worrying, or overwhelmed by tasks, write them down and stick them on your fridge. Then tick them off as you achieve them.
10. Consider a fridge lock
If you feel stress eating is taking over your life, try putting a lock on your fridge. Some have keys, while others have codes that you can entrust to someone else. Some operate on a timer basis.
11. Get huggy
When you cried as a baby, milk was a comfort, so it’s no wonder that food is still something we link to feelings of safety and security. Try replacing a biscuit with a warm embrace — it will boost feel-good hormones such as oxytocin, the same hormone released when mothers cuddle their babies.
12. Comfort doesn’t have to be bad
You can eat healthily and still achieve that cozy feeling. Nutritionist Annemarie Aburrow, says: ‘Stock up with canned beans and pulses, tinned tomatoes, frozen veg and fruit, and create slow-cooked meals like stews, casseroles, and soups. You can get that comfortable feeling from coming home to the smell of a home-cooked casserole.’
13. Don’t fell alone :
TV presenter and model Katie Price admits comfort-eating in the past and posted a video of herself on social media eating 12 hash browns in one sitting. In a world of perfect celebs, you can feel you’re the only one raiding the biscuit tin. But you’re not alone.
14. Choose stress-busting food
Foods that contain magnesium — such as nuts, seeds, and whole grains — can help lower anxiety. Pumpkin seeds and bananas contain zinc, which regulates mood.
15. Look after your tummy
According to the charity MIND, being stressed can make gut activity speed up or slow down. It recommends healthy gut foods such as fruit, veg, whole grains, pulses, and live yogurts or pro-biotics.