A hundred years ago, the answer would have been simple – when we are hungry. Nowadays, there are a number of answers – 25% eat because it is meal time (whether you’re hungry or not) and 20% because they are bored or working on something that doesn’t motivate them. Food is everywhere – not just in shop windows, but on the TV, on street posters and hoardings. For this reason, another 20% will be tempted to eat because ‘it look delicious’. Another 19% reward themselves with food – ‘I did a good job, I deserve it’. 15% are emotional eating and 1% – only 1% – guess why? Because they are actually hungry.
The moment you think about your diet, think about your eating habits. Think about why you have particular habits and give yourself more choices than food alone.
When breaking any habit, you have to consider your behaviour. Every time you find yourself reaching for food and each time you eat, stop and ask why you are eating. Are you actually hungry? If not, think about how you’re feeling and what caused it. Ask if you can change how you feel by doing something productive. If you are angry, write it down rather than eating them away. If you are bored, get up and do something – even if you don’t feel like it right away. If you are tired, take a nap or just go to bed, if it’s night time. (We all know how important quality sleep is).
Don’t punish yourself for wanting to eat. Find an outlet that will make you feel better, not worse. Do whatever you need to do to put a more positive spin on your situation, rather than eating something you’ll regret later, perpetuating a cycle of negative emotions.
Finally, sometimes we have negative emotions that may trigger us to eat and we just have to feel them. Be angry. Be grumpy. Be sad. Be whatever you are at the moment, but be in the moment, rather than pushing the feeling aside by eating something that makes you temporarily forget what you’re feeling. It may be uncomfortable, but you will feel better for it in the end.
We have emotions for a reason and ignoring them doesn’t improve our situation. If you allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, you may grow from the experience and be able to avoid the same pain in the future, perpetuating a cycle of positive emotions.