Web Content Viewer (JSR 286) - Healthy Weight

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Woman eating from open refrigerator at nightFood is more than just nutrients; it is part of our social and emotional lives.

We eat for many different reasons. Sometimes, we eat because we are hungry. Sometimes, we eat because we think we’re expected to eat, such as on social occasions. Sometimes, we eat because we’re offered food by friends or relatives. And sometimes, we eat just to make ourselves feel better – this is called comfort eating.

Comfort eating is eating because you’re feeling sad, lonely, bored or hopeless. It can be the reason you have that late night snack, the munchies when you get home from work or that random raid on the fridge.

Comfort eating is something we’ve learned. As children, we may have been comforted with food when we were crying. And often, eating does help us feel better – at least for a few minutes but the good feeling doesn’t last. Comfort eating is one reason some of us put on weight, and an important reason why some people find it hard to lose weight.

If you regularly eat for comfort, the following tips may help you to break the habit:

  • Accept that you will do it sometimes. If you’re used to comfort eating, you’re not going to stop doing it overnight. Try not to feel guilty and focus on what you can do to prevent it from happening again.
  • If you do eat for comfort, eat smaller amounts and make healthier food choices, such as fruit. Rather than eating directly from the fridge or the packet, serve yourself a small portion of food and sit at the table to eat it. Put all remaining food away before you start eating, and clear your plate away when you’ve finished. If you treat this as a small meal, you’re less likely to keep raiding the fridge or cupboard.
  • Recognise your feelings for what they are. If you seek out food when you’re sad, acknowledge to yourself that you’re sad. It’s an important step in changing the habit.
  • Do positive things to help you handle negative feelings in healthier ways. Replace eating with something else: talk to a friend, get out of the house for a while, go for a walk or turn to a hobby. Try to choose things that provide the comfort you’re looking for.
  • If you tend to turn to particular foods for comfort, hide them. Better still, don’t buy them in the first place.
  • Keep a food diary to record when you comfort eat and how you’re feeling when you do. If you find a pattern of comfort eating at certain times, think about how you might change that habit.
  • If you know you’ll be tempted to buy unhealthy food at a particular shop, try to avoid going past that shop.
  • Talk with your health professional about your feelings, your weight and whether you’re taking any medications that might increase your risk of putting on weight.

 

 

For information about depression, see: