We’ve all done it. It’s the end of a working week, we’re tired and stressed and possibly burnt out from the heavy workload we’ve been facing. We go home, we bury ourselves in a hot shower or bath and we pour that amazing glass of lustrous red wine and grab the share size (ahem, for one) bag of chocolate from the fridge. Sinking down onto the comfortable couch, wine, chocolate and remote in hand, we breathe out. Sounds brilliant doesn’t it? Wrong. That sounds like emotional eating.
Emotional eating is turning to food or alcohol for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward rather than to satisfy hunger. Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about and it can feel a bit overwhelming. There are of course companies out there like radwellnesscentre.com that support detoxes to get us out of bad habits but sometimes that can take sheer will power alone. On the other hand, mindful eating is a practice that develops your awareness of eating habits and allows you to pause between your triggers and your actions. You can then change the emotional habits that have sabotaged your diet in the past.
If you ever – and let’s be honest here, we all do! – made room for pudding even though you’re full from dinner, or dove into a carton of Ben and Jerry’s with no intention to share it when you’re feeling down, you’ve experienced emotional eating. It’s using food to make yourself feel better and filling emotional needs rather than to fill your stomach. Using food from time to time as a pick me up or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We all love a birthday cake round in the office now and again. But when eating is the first thing you turn to when the going gets tough, then it’s a problem. You get stuck into an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed.
Companies like radwellnesscentre.com can advise on the best ways to overhaul your diet and foods to avoid but if you want longevity post detox, then you need to understand your reasons for turning to food. Eating may feel great in the moment: that temporarily sweet release of tension into a Danish is oh so yummy but not lasting. You need to address the issues going forward so that you have a better and healthier relationship with food. That’s not to say you should cut out foods you enjoy, but learn that food is not a cure for emotional stress or trauma in the same way turning to alcohol can lead to a serious and damaging addiction. Food and sugar have that same power if you allow it to and that’s what emotional eating is all about: not allowing it to be a vice. Being more mindful in your food choices going ahead will lead you better in life altogether.
There is an ancient practise that can help us transform the way you think about food and set the stage for a lifetime of healthy, independent eating that doesn’t rely so much on cravings and junk. Like most people, you’ve probably eaten something in the past few hours and like many of us you likely won’t be able to recall everything you ate especially if you are busy in an office or out and about all day. Not many people can recall the sensation of eating, never mind the food they’re tasting. Because we are usually working, driving, reading, watching television or fiddling with an electronic device we are often not fully aware of what we are eating. By truly paying attention to the food you eat, you can indulge in junk food far less often.
In essence, mindful eating means being fully attentive to your food as you buy, prepare, serve and consume it. Companies such as radwellnesscentre.com can advise you on the right pathway to mindful eating and there are several practices that can get you there, we’ve listed a few below.
- Begin with your shopping list. When you write your list it’s usually triggered by routine of what the people in your household eat and nearly every list starts with milk and bread. Consider the health value of every item you add to your list and stick to the list to avoid impulse buying bargains. We know it’s annoying to see a punnet of strawberries for over £3 but you can buy a double pack of Jaffa Cakes for £1. It doesn’t make much sense. However, when you buy large punnets of fruit you are supporting locally grown businesses and when you buy Jaffa Cakes you’re supporting mass produced sugary junk. We know which one we’d rather buy!
- Come to the table hungry, but not ravenously so. If you skip meals, you may be so eager to fill yourself up and satisfy the grumble of hunger that you swallow your food before you chew it. This leads to you not enjoying your food and simply filling a gap. Eat slowly. Taste every mouthful. Identify the flavours of the food you’ve cooked and appreciate each sensation as you eat it. It sounds alien, to treat a meal with such reverence. But if you keep chucking food down your throat instead of enjoying it you’re doing your body and your mind a disservice.
- Start small. If necessary, move your portion onto a side plate. Smaller plates trigger the brain to think you are eating smaller portions and therefore can tell you when you are fuller, faster. Companies like radwellnesscentre.com can help you with detoxing your body to learn how to start again with a clean system.
- Appreciate your food. Pause before you begin to eat to contemplate what’s been put in front of you. Silently express your gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy the food, some people never or rarely get that chance.