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Comfort eating - The vicious circle

Hi guys, this week I want to talk about comfort eating as it’s something I’ve experienced during the last month. There are many different types of comfort eating but all fall into the same vicious circle!

How would I describe comfort eating? It can be anything from eating something sweet to make is feel better when down, or eating simply due to boredom, out of habit or making bad food choices because of other scenarios like lack or time, energy & motivation.

This last month I think I experienced every single one of those and I’m sure you will have experienced some of those yourself in your lifetime.

So I mentioned what comfort eating is, let’s look at the reasons why we do it. The obvious reasons are to make us feel better, to fill us up when hungry or to counter boredom and fulfil habits.

Do our reasons justify what we do? Perhaps yes, but do they fulfil our needs? Definitely not. The pleasure from eating something sweet when we are down last for as long as it takes to chew and swallow. Then the desire for more kicks in and we eat more and more and more until we feel sick (not better). We know it doesn’t provide us with sustained pleasure or energy.

Another reason, not enough time. I found myself using this recently and since coming home I’ve realised that actually that wasn’t a valid excuse. I was cooking proper food for others but then eating something poor afterwards myself and that didn’t make sense. When it comes to time, being a little more organised can often eliminate this excuse.

It’s all well and good stating how I or you sometimes comfort eat and acknowledge that it doesn’t really help but it’s no good knowing that unless we know how to prevent it.

For me it was really simple. Coming back to home where I had my normal routine back, was enough to cut out all excuses to eat a pack of biscuits for lunch or even a crisp sandwich. (Trust me I ate terrible)

For others it may not be so simple. It helps to make a record of when we want to comfort eat. Even if it’s after committing the crime (eating bad) it will help to make a note of what we were feeling before and why. As well as that, make a note of how you feel afterwards… sometimes it may be positive, other times you may feel guilty. Writing this down will help make you think twice the next time you feel down.

Making better choices sounds like the simplest most effective way – but is often the hardest. Yes I can tell you that reaching for an apple instead of a bar of chocolate is going to make you feel fuller, provide you with essential vitamins and prevent any further cravings. But that isn’t what we want during these times (I know that). Knowing this though may help you realise that if you don’t fancy a delicious shiny, juicy apple, then maybe you’re not hungry and don’t need any form of food.

Note that emotional eating comes very suddenly whereas actual hunger is far more gradual.

You could almost class comfort eating as a habit, and habits always come in 2’s i.e. feeling down and eating something sugary. We’ve previously mentioned ways to break habits. Can we hold off eating for 5 minutes? Sometimes that is enough to lose the craving. If you can practise this we can learn to accept our emotions for what they are and not try to treat them with bad food choices.

All in all, we will learn out own ways to deal with stress, but next time it happens let’s try not to go to food for comfort and instead think about what’s causing the emotions and how we can prevent them from happening.

Do not feel guilty for letting it happen occasionally, and getting straight back on track to healthy eating & an active lifestyle is going to help you both physically & mentally in the long run!

I hope this helps and I hope you don’t ever feel the need to comfort eat… but just in case you do remember this post!


Big J

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