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Do you eat because you're unhappy?

Inhaling salty chips, gorging on chocolate, eating biscuit after biscuit. Do you know the feeling? The need to eat and eat and eat and the hideous guilt that comes with it. Studies have shown that people who eat their feelings are commonly suffering from excessive stress, anxiety and depression and binge eat as a way of coping with how they're feeling. Binge eating is where you eat large quantities of food in a small amount of time (within a 2 hr period) with an emotionally charged aspect to your food frenzy. You will probably feel that you just can't stop eating or that you don't want to stop eating. Sufferers eat much faster than normal gobbling down food until uncomfortably full and eating when not feeling hungry. Sometimes eating alone and feeling guilty, depressed or disgusted after eating. Binge eating is on the rise due to the convenience and abundance of cheap food at almost any hour of the day combined with the increase in mental illness and stress related illnesses.

 

Evidence suggests that there are several reasons for someone to develop binge eating behaviours due to emotional eating. Most people learn from a young age that food can be used as a way for managing difficult feelings while also struggling with low self esteem, depression, anxiety and weight issues. People who cut out specific food groups like banning all carbs can have the same effect as when you think of foods as 'forbidden', you actually run the risk of developing psychological or emotional cravings causing you to binge on forbidden foods in one sitting.

 

So what can you do about it?

 

A good first step is to talk to your GP who may refer you to a psychologist to work with or a dietician or combination of both who together will be able to work out the best approach to suit your needs.

 

You can start by keeping a food diary to help you identify patterns with your eating habits and identify the triggers that give you the urge to binge eat by also recording moods.

 

When you start eating regularly and normalise eating patterns for meals and snacks and not skipping meals helps keep you on track. You should be eating 5-6 times a day - like a king at breakfast, mid morning snack, like a prince at lunch, afternoon snack and like a pauper at dinner and a small supper treat. 

 

Work at developing a healthy positive relationship with food and ditch the idea of restricting or dieting - just eat healthy whole foods regularly to nourish your body and mind.

 

Take time to plan and prepare meals and eat without distractions like TV, ipads etc and enjoy your food and eat when you are just full rather than over full and when you are truly hungry rather than when you're bored, tired, angry, sad or just because food is there.

 

Suzanne

Lifestylist Health & Wellness

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