How To Stop ‘Stuffing’ Your Emotions with Food

Many of us use food to cope with a range of emotions: anger, stress, sadness, even boredom.

A lot of this is learned behaviour. We’re taught as children that food can accompany many different situations. Celebratory dinners, ordering a pizza during a sleepover, eating a yummy piece of cake on a birthday.

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We associate food with happy memories, which leads to it being used as a crutch or an escape from our problems.

To truly stop avoiding your emotions with food, you need to get to the root of what’s causing you to do so. Here are a few tips to help you along.

1. Recognize unhealthy behaviours

Listing three to five of your unhealthy coping mechanisms can help bring awareness to what stresses you out. Most of the time, these actions are automatic, thoughtless, responses to a situation, and you need to uncover how and why they are making you feel a certain way.

2. Identify your triggers

Try to recall a memory where an unhealthy behavior took place. Feel the emotion as the memory unfolds. Capture the feeling that happens right before the impulse. Once you grab on that emotion, you’ll be able to work it out your trigger and start to change your behaviours.

3. Honor your emotions

Instead of hiding whatever your feeling, let yourself fall into it. It’s key to be emotionally literate, to understand fully what you’re feeling, so open yourself up to feeling whatever it is you’re feeling instead of stuffing those emotions deep inside of you.

4. Listen to your body’s message

According to scientific research, almost 80% of our diseases are emotion-based, proving emotional health is linked to physical health. What is your body trying to teach you? Where are you feeling your emotions? Is it your gut, your jaw, your hands? Take time to hear the message it’s sending and pay attention to the signals it is trying to tell you.

5. Make small changes

Sometimes, just making a small change can be the start of something big. Reflect on what changes you need to make. Whatever it is you need to get better, ask for it. Do you need to ask for help? Do you need to exercise more, drink more water, eat healthfully? Is it your job or your friends holding you back? Is it as simple as just laughing more? Whatever it is, it’s your time to own it and go for it. Once you ask for it, it’s incredible how quickly change will come.

6. Change your thinking

Instead of feeling like a worthless mess that can never break the habit, take a positive approach. Believe in yourself that you can, and will, overcome whatever is setting you back.

Next time you have the urge to grab a plate or a bag of crisps when something goes wrong, follow these steps. Recognise your trigger, feel whatever you’re feeling, let your body guide you and never be afraid to take control and ask for what you need.

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