How to avoid stress eat­ing

Eastern Courier - - OUT & ABOUT -

ex­pe­ri­enc­ing emo­tions that you find chal­leng­ing, you are giv­ing food a new sig­nif­i­cance, beyond just meet­ing your nutri­tional needs. Food be­comes a cop­ing strat­egy, mak­ing your de­sire for it in­ten­sify. You be­gin to be­lieve that you need this food to get through these emo­tions you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing. The first step is to try to find com­fort in non-food re­lated ways, for ex­am­ple: go for a walk, read a book, talk to a friend, tidy-up, ob­serve na­ture, watch your chil­dren sleep, or make your­self a cup of herbal tea.

The next time you sit down to eat, bring your aware­ness to the present mo­ment – to how you feel right now. Are you feel­ing anx­ious or over­whelmed? Is your heart rac­ing? Prac­tise tak­ing three long, slow breathes to re­lax your body. It can help to ac­knowl­edge your food, the ef­fort that has gone into grow­ing or pre­par­ing it - rather than en­gulf­ing it be­fore you’ve even con­sciously re­alised what you are do­ing.

Here are some steps to help stress eat­ing:

Re­move all judg­ment about what you are about to eat – in­stead fo­cus on slowly en­joy­ing each mouth­ful. Judg­ment around food cer­tainly adds to feel­ings of stress and anx­i­ety, which makes it harder to di­gest that food. Re­mem­ber it was what you do ev­ery day that im­pacts your health not what you do some­times.

Pay at­ten­tion to your food and how you feel af­ter eat­ing it – this is the best guide to know­ing which foods make you feel good. When you start to be present with food – you start to taste it and en­joy it more, which will make you feel much more sa­ti­ated af­ter eat­ing. This also re­duces your chances of overeat­ing when you’re feel­ing stressed or anx­ious.

Slow down and en­joy your food, don’t rush it. Make an ef­fort to sit at the din­ner ta­ble and be present, rather then eat­ing on your lap in front to the tele­vi­sion, in the car on your way home, or at your desk. When you start to be­come a ‘con­scious’ or ‘present’ eater you will learn the art of mod­er­a­tion – you are also more likely to be aware of when you are full.

Chew your food well. There are no more teeth to chew your food once the food has left your mouth, chew­ing your food well also helps you to slow down. Iden­tify the emo­tion you are wish­ing to avoid or the emo­tion you are seek­ing the food to give you. How else can you ex­pe­ri­ence this that doesn’t in­volve food?

Dr Libby is a nutri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. Visit dr­libby.com.

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