Do you sometimes wonder why you throw yourself at food for no particular reason?
Well, the truth is, it is not entirely your fault.
In fact, your brain has programmed a way to compensate for all your negative emotions… with food. The problem is, you know that it isn’t a sustainable solution, as it will make you feel worse afterwards.
Fist, let me give you a few hints to identify your emotional eating triggers:
- Change of plans:
I usually notice that when things don’t go the way I planned, I feel powerless, and I start to doubt…which is the #1 trigger for food binges.
à This can be avoided by a bit of background preparation: before you organise something, have a few back-up plans, and prepare yourself mentally by picturing the different options that you have. Besides, keep in mind that people often change their mind, so don’t set too high expectations and remain flexible!
Whenever I am tired, angry, stressed, when I feel anxious, useless and when I start to lack self-confidence, I also know I am more prone to binges…
à So what I try to do is to relax, take a nap, think about something else, and let go of my negative thoughts (this can take time, but the more you talk to people about it, the better!)
- Reminder of a situation:
Whenever you find yourself in a position that reminds you of a specific situation, this can be very hurtful.
For instance, I remember a few months back that I cooked something for my boyfriend who was coming home a bit later. I just wanted to be nice and thoughtful. But when he came home, he just wanted pasta, and he totally ignored the food I had prepared for him.
It made me feel both sad and angry at the same time.
And the next morning, when I woke up, seeing the dish I had prepared for the previous night, untouched on the table, reminded me of the painful feelings I had…
And I ended up eating the whole thing….I felt terrible afterwards….I cried the whole day….
à I think the way you can avoid this situation is by dealing with your painful emotions: talk to the person who hurt you and explain how you feel. Try to write it down as well, or to talk to somebody else about it… Good friends are often the best shrinks!
- Breaking a dietary rule:
When you set yourself very strict dietary rules (such as “I will eat 1200kcal today”, “I won’t touch any bread/pasta/cereal”, “I can’t have sugar”), it is quite hard to respect them. And the more strict they are, the more difficult it is to follow them. And the feeling of guilt you may have for breaking a rule will likely make you binge…
à Even if it is the last thing you want, do not deprive yourself, and do not banish any food from your diet. There is no “devilish” or “angelish” food. Even when you are watching your weight. There is no point stuffing yourself with “healthy” food, as you will end up craving even more the food you have classified as “dangerous”.
- Not eating enough meals/snacks:
When you do not eat enough during the meals, when you don’t eat at regular intervals and when you don’t allow yourself snacks, you are more prone to binge.
V*, my therapist ,used to tell me that it doesn’t matter if I am not really hungry at 4-5pm, but eating a small snack will prevent me from stuffing myself with sugary food when I go home from work. And she was right.
The most important thing is to keep faith when this happens! Don’t give up. I have been there too, and I still struggle with emotional eating, even these days.
But I know I can overcome it. I am strong. All I need is to make peace once again with my body!