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  • Writer's pictureAlexander James

Why Do We Comfort Eat?

Updated: Jan 27, 2023

It’s that autumnal time of year when we are starting to crave hearty meals and some good old fashioned comfort food. The lighter salads and fruits of summer no longer seem so appealing when the temperatures dip and the nights draw in. However, for some people comfort eating has less cosy connotations.

Many people use food, or ‘emotional eating’, as a source of comfort or release for stress in difficult times, Unfortunately, we rarely crave the foods that are good for us, such as whole grains or green leafy vegetables. It tends to be junk food which is high in sugars and fats, and has a low nutritional value.

So why is this, and what can we do about it? The scientific explanation is that stress triggers overproduction of the hormone cortisol, which makes us crave the instant high of sugar, salt and fatty foods. These provide a temporary hit of pleasure and boosts our energy levels, which may make the stressful situation seem less overwhelming.

However, emotional eating is not triggered by genuine hunger, so we don’t tend to burn off the extra calories we consume. This leads to weight gain and feelings of guilt or anxiety about our lack of self-control. The problem is compounded because it becomes more difficult to tell when we are genuinely hungry and when we are full.

The first step to try and control the problem is to identify what your triggers are. For some, it’s stress and for others it might be boredom, sadness, or even because you socialise with people who normalise overeating.

Once you have pinpointed your trigger, find a way to step back and pause before you act on it. This might be by using a diversionary tactic, such as making a cup of tea or going for a walk. Some people find that mindfulness therapy is very effective for helping them to separate their thoughts from their emotions and actions.

If you are interested in trying some Harley Street hypnotherapy, please get in touch today.

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