When you were a child, food was used as a soothing comfort. Fall down on your bike? Your mum might treat you to an ice cream cone to help stop the tears. Had a rough day at school? Well, why not commiserate over a trip to the ice cream stand.
But at a certain point, usually, right around puberty, you may have been taught that food shouldn’t be connected to emotions. In fact, many of us were told to avoid using food as a way to comfort ourselves.
However, isn’t food the absolute comfort? It’s one of the greatest pleasures of life and when you are feeling frustrated, food can bring you pleasure and happiness. Moreover, you don’t need to completely disconnect food from emotions, they are and will be paired forever. You just need to manage the relationship with care.
Stop shaming yourself
We’ve all been there – a stressful day of work leads to downing a bag of crisps in record time. Or a frustrating call leads to guzzling a bag of chocolates in just seconds. However, there can be shame about indulging and a feeling that it’s not allowed. Unfortunately, that feeling can lead to unhealthy eating behaviours like gulping down the food or being secretive about eating.
If you bring your stress snack out into the light, you might also discover a few other stress-reducing tricks along the way. Share your crisps – and your feelings – with a friend and you’ll find venting can be powerful. Or take a walk in the sunshine with your bag of cookies and you’ll feel your stress melt away faster than if you just continue your stress eating in the dark.
Indulge in the good stuff
Your emotions might be able to hold strong for a while but eventually, they crack. In fact, this often means a late night run to a convenience store to grab whatever’s on the shelves. Wouldn’t a yummy piece of cake from your favourite bakery or a new flavour of ice cream feel way better than downing a family size bag of crisps? When you allow yourself to indulge, you end up eating the good stuff. And since you feel satisfied faster, you will end up eating less.
Think of it this way, if you wouldn’t post a photo of your treat on Instagram, maybe it isn’t worth it.
Have many tools in your toolkit
Food is one of many wonderful ways humans can self-sooth. And we should use food when it’s appropriate. However, it shouldn’t be your only option. Hanging out with friends, taking a fun fitness class, or treating yourself to a spa treatment all will have stress-reducing effects without causing strife to your waistline.
Basically eat if you want to eat, even if why you want to eat is because you are feeling down. That’s totally 100% allowed. But if you find yourself always eating and it’s no longer bringing you pleasure, think about finding a new outlet.
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