Are You Eating Your Emotions?

Essentials|June 2020

Are You Eating Your Emotions?
Lots of us reach for food when we’re down, stressed or tired. Here’s why we do it – and how to break the cycle, fast!
Charlotte Haigh

You’ve had a difficult day at the office. On the way home, all you can think about is the pizza that you’re going to polish off on the couch. Or maybe you’re not getting on well with your partner, and keep nibbling biscuits whenever you’ve had an argument. Whatever your triggers, if you eat for emotional reasons, that’s normal, according to Dr Aria Campbell-Danesh,a behaviour change psychologist specialising in weight management. ‘Emotional eating is often misunderstood and unfairly demonised,’ he says.

‘The reality is, we don’t just eat on hunger. Our brains have evolved to find food pleasurable. It’s natural to eat to feel better. It can cause problems, though, if eating is your go-to coping strategy, particularly if you gain unwanted weight as a result,’ explains Dr Campbell-Danesh.

Feature Charlotte Haigh Photography Shutterstock Always contact your healthcare practitioner for medical advice

WHAT IS EMOTIONAL EATING?

‘It’s an attempt to soothe difficult emotions, usually those we feel unable or unsafe to express,’ advises food psychologist Dr Jen Bateman, who trained in psychology after overcoming her own issues with what she calls ‘non-hunger eating’. ‘Anger, guilt, shame and fear are the emotions we typically eat on. Anger, for example, is a natural human emotion that arises when a healthy boundary is crossed, but it gets a bad reputation and girls, in particular, are often not taught healthy ways to express or work through it so it passes. So the anger stays within. As adult women, eating can be an attempt

THE CHEMISTRY LESSON

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June 2020