Adopting mindfulness to address emotional eating!
Emotional eating - a subconscious strategy to cope with our emotional needs through food. Basically, it is a kind of eating disorder that we often fail to spot consciously and go on a binge just to FEEL better. Yes! We believe that when we are done with the food, we will feel better. Every other tagline selling a particular food item hints at the idea," there is nothing that a good meal can't fix". Nobody told us the fact that food's job was to never heal emotions. So how did we become emotional eaters? Well, it happened due to several triggers. Triggers can be physical, environmental or emotional. Physical triggers such as thirst, hunger or fatigue. Environmental triggers, such as the abundance of food. We overeat because we have paid for food or if we get free food. Funny right ?! In India, people have to finish everything off the plate because it is bought with HARD EARNED MONEY. And then emotional triggers such as sadness, anxiety or boredom. We eat when we are sad. We eat when we celebrate. We eat when we think that we are rewarding ourselves after the diet. We eat when we are angry or anxious. We eat even when we are bored. We EAT FOR EVERY EMOTION. What exactly do we feel like eating when we are emotional? Comfort food, of course! I mean, nobody craves a bowl of broccoli when feeling sentimental. Chocolates? Yes. A tub of ice cream after a painful break-up? Yes! Chips, pizza or beer to kill time with friends? Yes! WHY we want to eat is directly linked to WHAT we are going to eat. AND WE ARE NEVER MINDFUL ABOUT EATING! We always eat in a hurry, right?! Stuffing pizza and beer over a 'Netflix and chill' date or preparing for an office meeting while munching on tons of fries, we all have been there. We console ourselves by saying that we are such cool multitaskers. But, MULTITASKING IS A BIG FAT LIE. "Even in multitasking, you are focused on your priority task majorly, and the rest of the activities are on autopilot." If we are engaged in doing some activity while we are eating, 'eating' activity is actually on 'autopilot'. We tend to eat until the plate is empty, and after the food is gone, we hardly register the memory of eating. Sometimes, we do not even chew the bite and keep stuffing the next one. Then eating becomes only about the next bite. The problem is that if we have eaten out emotional reasons, food does not resolve them completely. We are going to be bored again, and we are going to eat again and then the vicious cycle continues. SUGGESTED APPROACHES TO COUNTER IT: First, we have to understand the difference between PHYSICAL HUNGER and EMOTIONAL HUNGER. In physical hunger, the body gives signals about hunger; you begin to feel weak, or your mental alertness is lesser than usual, or your stomach feels empty. In emotional hunger, all you feel is a compulsion to eat, and it is triggered by an emotional state that you are in at that time. Asking the fundamental question 'why do I need to eat right now' whenever you feel the trigger to eat, can actually solve half the case. So, unless it is just physical hunger, you can actually choose not to binge over emotional reasons. AWARENESS IS NEEDED FOR THIS. YES, MINDFUL EATING HELPS! This is the best practice to overcome emotional eating. Mindful eating suggests that if you keep distractions away while you eat and focus entirely on eating, you stop the habit of overeating emotionally in due time. Next time when you sit down to eat, make sure you keep your phone, your television, your laptop away and focus on food completely. Chew every bite and savour the taste and the smell. Eat slowly and take your time with it. After all, you want to make your relationship with the food better; you have to give it time, like every other link in life. STOP EATING THE MOMENT YOU FEEL FULL! While you practice mindful eating, the moment you realize that you have reached a satiety level, you should keep the plate down and stop eating. If you feel hungry after 15 minutes, you can still eat a little, but you have to stop when you feel full. There is no need to finish everything off the plate just because you see them. Remember, we are trying to work on the relationship with the food. Forcing yourself on it is never going to make it better. In conclusion, to overcome emotional eating, we have to work on both conscious and subconscious levels consistently. Mindfulness is a very efficient way to go about this. Highly recommended!