Why do I comfort eat?
Comfort eating is generally about using food to avoid confronting something, or to fill some emotional void in your life that you cannot seem to cope with in a more constructive manner.
Unfortunately, food will not satisfy your underlying issues in the long run, and eating for comfort only provides temporary relief. After the food is gone the problem still exists, and if your over-eating is resulting in weight gain, you may feel even more depressed. Most of us have 'bad' feelings - ones that are painful or difficult to face up to so that we do whatever we can to suppress them. For many people, food is the substance that gives distraction and short-term relief.
How can I change this habit?
Food may have featured in your life for many years as a comfort.
Perceived in this way, food may temporarily help to reduce emotional
pain or discomfort. However, the real emotions eventually manifest
themselves in a variety of dysfunctional ways. Learning to cope with
those feelings at the onset will help you to overcome your weight
When the process of suppression of emotions begins in childhood, you tend to grow up being completely out of touch with your feelings, thus you begin to experience an emptiness that can spiral into an eating dysfunction. When you were sad, biscuits and milk may have been offered to you to 'feel better'. This learned pattern of using food to feel better has followed many of us into our adult life.
If you are eating for comfort, the most important part of your weight loss journey is to:
- Identify and acknowledge that you are an emotional eater
- Recognise the emotions that cause you to eat
- Find out ways to express your emotions
- Avoid situations that cause you to feel bad.
A significant step in feeling-management that often leads to eating-management is learning to identify the feelings that you use food to deal with.
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Next, you need to find other ways of expressing your emotions. Talk to a friend about the issue or if there is a person involved, talk to the person that is causing you to feel bad. Some of us do not want to burden others with our problems, so writing your thoughts in a diary can help clear your mind and put it to rest. Simply write everything and anything you are thinking and feeling just before you are ready to indulge.
When your feelings go unexpressed, they tend to be stored in your body as a form of tension or anxiety, which can lead to depression and a variety of other psychosomatic (mind/body) illnesses. These dysfunctions can include problems such as bingeing, purging, self-starvation or compulsive overeating. There is no running away from those feelings. You need to find ways to express your emotions or manage them without eating yourself to obesity.
If your problem is something that you are struggling to deal with alone, you should see your GP and discuss your feelings with him/her. Help is available, and taking that first step to acknowledging that you need some support, is your first important step towards building a healthier relationship with food. A helpful website is provided by the National Centre for Eating Disorders.