Eating mindlessly

When in the grip of an emotional ‘binge’, it seems to all happens so fast. We are almost not present, as the ‘treat’ food gets hoovered up within minutes. In fact, a tell-tale sign of emotional eating is that it is often carried out standing up at the kitchen counter. Or it may take the form of secret eating, if we do not want loved ones to comment. It is often carried out at speed, with the feeling that it is almost out of control. This is ‘mindless eating’ at its worst.

But what many people do not realise is that mindless binge eating is not ‘just automatic’. It is usually the result of a thought or a feeling. In other words, there is a subconscious thought or feeling that precedes the binge. And this emotion gets suppressed or ‘numbed’ by the eating. We are often not consciously aware of suppressing our emotions. This is the first problem. Without being consciously aware, we are led by impulse. Facing difficult feelings can be hard, but eating yourself fat, or drinking yourself into oblivion, is much, much, harder in the longer term.

Last week, for step one, we looked into how to check in with your emotions.

This week, step two, is how to engage the 'stop' button.

Engage the ‘stop’ button

A brilliant achievement for anyone is when they manage to stop eating the food, or drinking that drink, which they know is counter-productive. Start getting back some control by engaging the 'stop' button.

Stop what you are doing. Put the food or drink down. Even better, toss it down the sink or into the bin.

Take a few deep breaths. Become aware of breathing in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Notice yourself calming down. Place your hand on your chest to connect with yourself.

Observe what you are experiencing right now. Become aware of thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Thoughts are not facts. They can be distorted. Name the emotion – even say it out loud – so that you get a chance to turn down the volume on the fear circuit in your brain. Notice your body – is it starting to let go of that initial tension?

Proceed with something that will support you in that moment. Treat this as an experiment, so that you learn how to take back control and to connect with yourself in a real way. Whatever you ate, and regardless of how much, work hard not to feel guilty — move forwards with your eating plan as normal. Be curious, rather than guilty – why did I eat that way? What was going on for me? What action could I take next time that would be better?

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” – Brene Brown.

For information on how to deal with emotional eating visit www.motivation.ie or call your local clinic today on 091 480160.

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