Emotional Eating
How our habits are connected to our emotions

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By Ilse de Graaf

The E of The POWER Method focuses on EMOTION and ENERGY but let’s save the Energy part for a later blog post. Your life is about emotions. They are always there, positive as well as negative ones. In this blog post we will be exploring how our habits are connected to our emotions – you’ve never thought about that right? Well in that case you’re about to find out a lot of new information – YAY.

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Emotion is all-encompassing. Emotion can engender lots of joy, happiness, love, and pleasure – you know, all that good stuff that we crave in life. But unfortunately, it also gives intense feelings like sorrow, disappointment, pain, and anger. We all have to deal with it. But we are all different – nobody experiences emotion in the same way. Therefore, someone else can have a very different emotion in a situation than you would. Some of us (OVER HERE, ME!) wear our hearts on our sleeve whilst others have a more measured approach to their emotional life.

What is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is a habit, a habit which is often triggered by an unpleasant emotion such as stress, anxiety or depression. It is a coping mechanism. Emotional eating is used as a temporary solution to make you feel better – because who likes feeling unpleasant? Nobody. But don’t get me wrong, emotional eating isn’t only linked to negative emotions, it can also be brought on by pleasant emotions (celebrating), such as those felt at Birthdays, Weddings, Festive Holidays etc. These occasions are used as an excuse, an excuse to eat as much as you want “I’m in holiday mode”, “It’s Christmas, pass me the chocolate!” – phrases that sound all too familiar I’m sure. Our lives are ruled by habits, and going for food when we feel down or when we are celebrating is unfortunately one of them.

Does emotional eating work?
Emotions will always be a part of our lives and that’s no bad thing – after all, if we didn’t feel emotion would we really be living? So, it’s up to you to find another way to deal with your emotions by changing the habits connected to them. Emotional eating is self destructive, it offers you relief in the short term but in the long term you will have sabotaged your goals and wind up feeling worse than you did to begin with. Not only will the problem that lead you to emotionally eat still be there but you will also be angry and frustrated with yourself, you won’t feel good in your own skin.

When might you emotionally eat?
How and when you emotionally eat will depend on your emotional triggers. For some people they emotional eat when they are bored or lonely and they might not even realise they are doing it, it’s a completely subconscious reaction. You get home from work, you pop Netflix on the tv and fix yourself some snacks, before you know it you’ve gone through the entire bowl of popcorn and you’re onto the ice cream. You’re passively eating, you’re completely unaware of the quantities you are consuming because the food isn’t your main focus, the television is. For others their emotional eating may most regularly occur in the workplace as a response to stress. You have a heavy workload and don’t have time to make/pickup a nutritious lunch so you make poor food choices from a vending machine or the cafeteria – sound familiar?

How to break your emotional eating habits?

Stop calling yourself an emotional eater
First things first – STOP CALLING YOURSELF AN EMOTIONAL EATER! Just because emotional eating is how you have dealt with your emotions in the past doesn’t mean it defines you. When you say or think something like that, you give the signal to your brain to engage in emotional eating all the more. Your thoughts influence your emotions and behavior. By calling yourself an emotional eater, you make it easy for your subconscious to give in to doing just that. So, don’t! Instead, flex your muscles, get into a cool pose and say, “I am a kick-ass Weight Loss Ninja!”.

Identify why you emotionally eat
As mentioned above, everyone has different emotional triggers – they can be positive or negative emotions or for some people both. The key to breaking the habit is to become conscious of it. Ask yourself some questions. Am I truly hungry? When did I last eat? Am I only eating because everyone else is? What emotion am I feeling? Identifying the reason you are eating/wanting to eat will prevent you from doing it out of habit. Whether to eat should be a conscious choice. A good way to keep track of this is to keep a food journal, this way you can examine any negative eating patterns that emerge!

Identify the foods that give you comfort
This is another step where your food journal may come in handy. What are your go to foods when you are feeling emotional? For most it’s sugary/salty snacks or foods high in saturated fats. Make a list of these foods and don’t keep them in your house. I’m not saying “That’s it, your relationship with the foods you enjoy is over!” – I’m saying, keep them out of arm’s reach. It’s so easy to grab for that family sized bag of crisps or bar of chocolate if they are already in your kitchen cupboard. Why not keep them as an ‘outside of your daily routine’ treat? If you REALLY want your trigger food you can have it as a planned treat – go out, buy an appropriate portion, eat it mindfully and then come home to a nice, trigger free home.

Find better ways to manage your emotions
That’s it, that’s all it ever was – a way to manage your emotions BUT there are better ways my lovely ninja friend. If hunger isn’t the problem, then food isn’t the solution.
Treat yourself – take yourself out, make yourself (even more) beautiful, put on a nice outfit, paint your nails, do a facial, take a bath with luscious amounts of your favorite bath foam, read a book, flip through one of your favorite magazines, go online shopping, go for a walk and enjoy some nature and fresh air. Do something that makes you happy but that does not involve unhealthy food!

Can’t figure things out by yourself? Ask your inner circle for help, or share your feelings on social media and use the hashtags #weightlossninja #loseweightwithPOWER #ninjaPOWER so other ninja’s can find you online!

“YOU CAN’T ALWAYS CONTROL THE SITUATION, BUT YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE IN HOW YOU RESPOND TO IT”

What’s your emotional eating trigger? Let me know in the comments.

Ps. Have you picked up my FREE Kickoff guide? It’s full of lots of wonderful tools to get you started on your journey towards mindset and lifestyle change. You can find it right here. Don’t forget to join our waiting list for my new online course (IT’S COMING SOOOOON!!!). Sign up here!

Thank you for reading my wonderful ninja friends!

xx Ilse

Founder & Coach
Weight Loss Ninja