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Comfort Eating

Lock down life comes with mixed emotions doesn’t it?

The uncertainty of the situation can leave us feeling high, and then low. Worry and anxiety might be quite prevalent emotions for you right now. You might be feeling more lonely, or even bored, and eating is something to do. We might be grazing a lot from the fridge, snacking or indulging in food that brings us comfort.

Quite often, we look at comfort eating as something we should ‘stop’ or as a ‘bad habit’. Remove the judgement. Our emotions are inextricably linked to our behaviour - we shouldn’t be trying to initiate a divorce between them because by doing so, you are saying your body is separate from your mind. An alienation of mind and body causes all sorts of dis-ease - and disease.

They are not separate. Your mind and body should be seen as a whole organism, with each influencing each other far more than we can imagine, or even that science can fully explain at the moment. It is ok to eat because of an emotion. I will say it again - it is ok to eat because of an emotion, positive or negative.

I would ask you this question first - what is the specific reason you are turning to food for? What emotion stems the need to eat? Is it loneliness, fear, boredom? Recognise the actual feelings that are there in your body as you turn to eat. Observation is the first part of the process - observation without judgement.

My second questions are - are you using food as part of processing that emotion? Or are you using it to numb the emotion?

Our feelings are there for a reason; to help us heal, develop and experience life. If we are eating to numb ourselves, then we can choose ways to process our emotions that are more helpful and effective - communicating with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, journaling, meditation, exercise etc. I would say the same for any other numbing mechanism you use - drinking, computer games, watching TV, scrolling through social media - all activities which are quite often harmless, unless you are using them to escape yourself or your life. We all have them in some form of other; because life is difficult!

Our eating, ideally, is linked to joy and connection, but also every other emotion we’re capable of feeling! Our eating should follow these patterns of our emotions, adding to our lives, meaning you can enjoy and then forget what you choose to eat. You have unconditional permission to eat anything, at any point, and in any amount. This might include, for example, more carbs or cake in lock down. Or it might not. THAT IS OK.

When you give your mind and body this freedom, the cycle of binge-restrict which characterises a lot of disordered eating patterns and unhealthy mind-body-food relationships, starts to disappear. You never have to ‘make up’ for what you ate. You never have to ‘deserve’ that glass of wine or slice of cake. Exercise is not punishment for food.

From this unconditional acceptance comes a true positive relationship with food; one that nourishes you, mind and body. Eat with your emotions, not against them.



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