Are you velcro or Teflon when it comes to emotional eating
Yesterday I woke up tired and cranky. It took such an effort to crawl out of bed. My usual porridge looked so unappetising, that I left the house without eating breakfast. The trains were delayed and I got into town late adding to my bad mood. By 11 o’clock I was starving so I ate a yummy looking croissant to cheer myself up. There were queues everywhere and it really got under my skin. When someone queue-barged, I gave them a piece of my mind (not like me at all). My bad mood continued all day and by the time I got home I was exhausted and fed up. The first thing I did was reach for the wine and a packet of crisps.
There I was, fed up, cranky, tired, frustrated… and I turned to food. Does this make me an emotional eater (and drinker)?
Everyone (and I mean everyone) has bad days, but how frequently we have them and how intense they are is individual. It is very easy for us to think negatively (sticking to us like velcro) and harder for us to turn these negative emotions to positive one (repelling them like teflon). Emotions are expressed physically – when we are anxious our heart rate increases, when we are angry our face gets hot.. This is unconscious and not in our control. If we don’t resolve our feelings, these physical reactions continue, and in the long term can affect our health. And the same happens with our mind. If we prevent ourselves from ‘feeling’, it puts us under stress, which again affects our health.
How we cope with low mood also differs between us. Are you one of those who relieves stress with a run, or finds that snuggling under the duvet for an hour can change how you feel about things? Many of us turn to food as our coping strategy. But when does reaching for the occasional sticky bun when we need comfort, turn into a problem that can affect our health and wellbeing?
If you listen to the self-help gurus, the answer is to change your negative thoughts to positive ones. But telling yourself that you are going to have a good day, when you know it’s going to be hell on earth, doesn’t make the stress go away. This is when we often turn to food to comfort us and to help us cope. But when does the odd foray into a bag of donuts become emotional eating? Eating is a very effective coping strategy for coping with emotions. It’s always accessible, it’s delicious and enjoyable and in the moment it works. It becomes a problem when it is the main/only strategy that you have.
Would you like to know if you are an emotional eater? Here’s a link to my quiz, so that you can find out.