Are you a comfort eater? Stress eater? Emotional eater? If so, you’re not alone. In confidential surveys 45% of women and 35% of men report eating in response to stress. And now that we’re stuck at home during the pandemic, comfort eating is likely to skyrocket. But instead of feeling better, it only makes people feel worse in the long run. So what can we do about it? ABC radio presenter Julie Clift asks me for some definitive solutions.
Julie: Why are so many of us prone to emotional eating?
Dr Helena: Because we aren’t taught how to deal with negative emotions. They’re uncomfortable, they’re unpleasant and we want to get rid of them as quickly as possible. And on top of that, we’ve created a culture in which we don’t have time to stop and process how we’re feeling. People feel enormous pressure to stay positive and carry on regardless – and it’s eroding our physical health as well as our mental wellbeing.
The corona confinement is actually an incredible opportunity to learn to sit with negative emotions and realise they won’t overwhelm us. We are not our emotions. We are able to observe them and allow them to pass through us.
In some cases boredom or procrastination drives us to eat. Regardless of the cause, the solution is the same: sit with the discomfort without fighting it. Experience the drive to eat without acting on it and you’ll discover you’re able to tolerate it. When you realise you can be with a feeling without needing to block it, you’ll experience a huge sense of relief, peace and strength.
Click here to listen to our entire conversation.
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