Let's talk about comfort eating...
Emotional eating is the number one reason women fall off the wagon...
and our favourite roadblock to conquer!
You know what though?
Emotional Eating is NOT your fault
Eating is a comfort. It is known physiologically that eating causes the release of dopamine and serotonin which are our feel-good hormones. These activate our reward system in the brain. It is a physiological response to food. We eat, we feel good.
But is it all nature? Some of it is nurture.
Comfort eating is something we are conditioned to and accept in our society.
We know if a baby if unsettled and whilst it might not be feed time, 9 times out 10 the baby will settle at the breast. In years gone by doctors used to (and I hope it’s still used to) give out jelly beans to ameliorate the discomfort of having a needle or a procedure.
A child falls over- “here, have a lollypop, you’ll feel better”.
We see it all the time in the movies -boy meets girl, they fall in love- boy breaks up with girl-girl is devastated, friends come around with tubs of ice cream.
And so, it is. We have an uncomfortable feeling or experience that we don’t like. We counter it with food to make us feel better. For many people, every slightly unpleasant experience triggers the need to comfort eat. It could be a 6 hours study session. Study always feels better with a block of chocolate or a packet of chips-right?...
Oh, folding this washing is awful... I’ll just have a piece of cake before I do it and suddenly the whole cake is gone. My workplace is stressful. Feels better knowing there is a packet of M&M’s in the top drawer. A long trip is made easier with a packet of lollies to eat along the way.
I would go so far as to say that as a society we don’t like any discomfort. We drive our air-conditioned cars into our air-conditioned office buildings. Or in the case of winter, we drive our heated cars with our heated seat warmers and heated steering wheels back to our heated home with in-floor, above-floor side-wall heating with electric throws, electric blankets and even electric hot packs all in the name of comfort. Children are rugged up to the eyeballs lest they experience any discomfort from being a tad cold.
So, we’re now in this situation where from childhood we are conditioned to avoid discomfort and treat any discomfort with food. So, can you imagine our response to hunger! Oh my God, a slightly unpleasant feeling which we are of course not conditioned to deal with and so we eat immediately or we eat to avoid hunger. “I’ll eat now because I may not be able to eat for 3 hours etc
Did you know that hunger is like a wave? It passes. Wait a moment. Surf the uncomfortable feeling and it passes.
This is the same for any uncomfortable feelings.
Wait and they will pass.
Lean into them and they will pass
Surf them and they will pass.
Eating is not part of any stress management program.
Learning to feel the emotion and wait. Don’t numb it with food. Don’t negate it with food. Simply lean in and feel it.
Our members in our Inner Circle “Real Life Momentum” are learning this. They are developing skills that will help them surf these waves.
To quote the famous ad for Pantene Shampoo. “It won’t happen overnight but it will happen”.
This takes practice. It takes persistence and perseverance.
But the reward? Food Freedom
If you’d like to join our inner circle and gain food freedom you can have a look here
With Love and Good Health
Lucy and Mary xx
Dr Lucy Burns and Dr Mary Barson