When we think about losing weight, we tend to focus on diet and exercise – it's what we've been conditioned to do. However, we can then become frustrated, as we find it difficult to actually eat healthily and be more active. It's like something is stopping us from doing what we know we should be doing.
The reason it can be difficult to stop overeating is that often we are using food to meet our emotional needs.
In short, we are comfort eaters.
I'm sure that many of you recognise this in yourselves – you stop on the way home from a stressful day at work to buy some wine and chocolate or you come off an upsetting phone call with your partner and head straight for the ice-cream in the freezer. Food has become the friend we turn to when we feel stressed, sad, angry or fearful. In fact, pretty much any emotion can trigger off a need to overeat.
So, when we decide to lose weight and cut back on our eating, it's like we're being deprived of our closest friend, our biggest support.
How is that going to work?
When we comfort eat, we are suppressing the emotion we are feeling, whatever that may be. We are putting a lid on it, rather than meeting the real emotional need. This is why, when I work with clients, we spend time looking at what's happening for them when they get that urge to eat and they know they're not physically hungry. Are they sad? Are they stressed? Are they angry? We then look at other ways of meeting that emotional need. It's all about giving ourselves alternatives to overeating. Once the subconscious mind knows that there is another way, that it has some options, we find it easier to make healthier choices, meeting our true needs.
How can you do this for yourself? Well, I'd encourage you to take some time to think about the things you can do to help you feel more relaxed and uplifted in your life. Give yourself some space and make your own list of activities that nurture you. These can be as simple as having a cup of tea or running a bubble bath – find what feels right for you.
For me personally, I know that being outside in nature helps me to feel more grounded and peaceful. So, I make sure that I build time into my week when I can go for a walk or just sit in the garden. This morning, I took myself off to the forest to take some photos and felt such a sense of contentment and stillness. I know that if I don't make time to do this, I will start to feel stressed and under pressure, so I've learned to plan regular ‘outdoor time'. This stops me from relying on the short-term fix of comfort eating.
So, create your own nurture list. Then start planning these activities into your week. Take positive action and start to truly meet your emotional needs. I guarantee you will find that you eat less and start to feel more balanced. I'd love to know what's on your list, so please do share.