When you’ve had a rough day, what’s the thing you fall back on to make yourself feel better? Is it talking it out with your partner or a friend? Taking a relaxing bath? Or is it more likely to be a glass of wine paired with your preferred ‘comfort’ food?
If it’s the latter, you’re certainly not alone! Many people share with me that they turn to food to soothe them through emotional upheaval or wine to help them relax or forget after a stressful day. They also tell me that they often feel guilty afterwards or wake up feeling lousy the following day.
More often than not, when we’re trying to drown out a feeling that isn’t comfortable, it leads to overindulging. We don’t just stop at one piece of chocolate or cheese on three crackers—before we know it we’ve polished off the whole packet and feel uncomfortable for a whole new set of reasons.
For many, a relationship with food based on reward or comfort was set up during childhood—which can make it challenging to shift. Those habits we’ve fallen back on for so many years can take time and patience to let go of. But when we do, it can quite honestly change our lives.
No more guilt. No more bartering. No more constantly thinking about whether something is ‘healthy’ or worrying if it’s going to stick to your thighs.
Instead, food becomes simply the way we nourish our bodies.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy what we eat or, from time to time, make less nourishing choices. It simply means we let go of the things we tell ourselves about what food is and what it isn’t. Or who we are because of our choices or a perceived lack of willpower—because surely if you had enough willpower you would be able to abstain, right?! Long-term, sustained change has nothing to do with willpower.
We all do things that we know in our hearts don’t serve our health. So, if you find yourself doing something—eating, drink or acting in a way that you know doesn’t have your best interests in mind—ask yourself why.
Why do you feel the desire to eat something sweet or have a glass of wine? What might you be trying to avoid? And how can you offer yourself support in a way that doesn’t detract from your health?
If you’d like to explore emotional eating in greater detail, including why it happens and how to overcome it, enrolments for the next intake of my Weight Loss for Women course are now open. Join me for this nine-week journey and let me help you to better understand your body and establish a relationship with food that is based on nourishment.
Dr Libby x