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  • Writer's pictureCaylin Goodchild

Emotional eating

Do you find yourself tucking into a bag of chips or a decadent brownie after a long day of work?

Do you feel guilty wondering how this cycle will ever stop and how you'll ever gain control of your eating habits?

You are not alone.

According to the American Psychological Association 27% of adults say they eat to manage stress, and 34% say that their stress eating is a habit.

The reason why we fall into this trap is because of the response we get from our brains. There are parts of the brain that are rewarded from eating high-fat or high-sugar foods. We tend to repeat this behaviour due to the reward response, which, in-turn, becomes a habit.

The first step to resolving these tendencies is to know the cause. Are you eating to cheer up? Are you eating to calm your nerves? Are you eating because you deserve it?

Secondly, notice your triggers. This is done best using a food diary. List everything you eat in the day, including an estimate of the amount of food and time of day it was eaten.

This will help you see where your "problem areas" are. For example, many clients tend to indulge around 16:00 or 17:00, just after a stressful workday, or around 20:00 when they are winding down and satisfying their sweet tooth.

You can also discover you triggers by noticing the following: "I feel... at/with... because...". For example: “I am cross at myself because I didn’t get my work finished".

Thirdly, you need to solve the problem. To do this you need to "re-wire". Instead of opting for the slab of chocolate after a tough day, you need to invent a distraction. This can be something like taking a walk, listening to a podcast or conversing with a friend. It's something easy to do to distract you, and replace thinking habits. To do this, you may need to talk to a trusted friend or family member, or a psychologist.

It's important to seek help, as this could be an ongoing issue which disrupts your goals, but stay hopeful! Keep in mind, nearly a third of the population are doing the same and it is solvable!

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