10 Tips on how to avoid eating your emotions this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t always rainbows and roses for everyone. For many it’s a difficult day that serves as a reminder that they may be alone, whether by choice or not. Instead of staying in and binging on chocolate boxes why not make a pledge to love yourself instead by getting your body and mind into the best shape possible.

Don’t let your emotions dictate your diet. Stress, loneliness and depression can all trigger what’s known as emotional eating. Sudden urges to reach for sugary or salty snacks can be set off by the stress hormone cortisol to provide the body with an instant pick me up.

Unfortunately, with emotional eating, the physical act of eating will only sooth us momentarily and we are often left feeling worse afterwards, stacked with guilt and remorse.

Learn to tune into your emotions and take back control over your diet and health.

1. Learn to eat mindfully. This will not only help your waistline but your head too. Sit down to eat a nutritionally balanced meal when you feel physically hungry, eliminate distractions like the tv or your phone and focus on what you’re eating. Reconnect with the food in front of you and you’ll start to appreciate aromas, flavours and textures you may have missed before.

2. Don’t give in to cravings. Emotional eating can be an action we do on auto pilot, before you know it you have your hand in the freezer on a tub of ice-cream. This is a form of mindless eating, pause and reflect before you eat; do you really want and need what you are about to eat? If not, put it down.

3. Take 5 when an emotion kicks in. When you feel upset and are driven towards food ask yourself to pause for 5 minutes. During that time ask yourself what’s going on emotionally. This can not only stop you from binging but may help set you up for a different response next time.

4. Allow yourself to accept your feelings, the good and the bad. While it may feel like you are powerless over food you may actually be feeling powerless over your emotions. Instead of bottling things up and suppressing your feelings, try tackle them head on. Talk them out with friends or family and you will feel an immediate weight lifted off you.

5. Make plans! If you know Valentine’s day might be a difficult for you, make sure to keep yourself busy. Get a group of your friends together and go to the cinema or for a walk. If no one is free book yourself into a gym class, anything to distract your mind.

6. Get fit. Exercise is a scientifically proven form of treatment for depression and anxiety. It triggers the release of feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being.

7. Join a social group. If exercise isn’t your thing, join a social group. There are group meet ups in every city and not all of them are hobby based. Get online and find one that suits you, this will not only help you gain confidence but offers a chance to meet new people too.

8. Reduce your sugar intake to boost your mood and energy levels. The World Health Organisation recommends people reduce their added sugar intake to a maximum of 5% of their total energy intake per day, It is however currently estimated that people in the UK consume double that while in the US, it’s triple that amount of sugar. Added sugar is all sugar, excluding the sugar naturally occurring in fruit, vegetables and milk.

9. Fill your diet with mood boosting ingredients. When you eat a healthy diet, your body reaps the benefits. Combining whole grain low GI carbohydrates and proteins in the diet enhances the availability of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter said to have a calming effect and to play a role in sleep. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, tryptophan, folate and other B vitamins, are also known for their role in enhancing mood. Fill your diet with oily fish, lean meat, green leafy vegetables and even a little dark chocolate to keep yourself happy.

10. Bake! Baking is therapeutic for so many people and can be a lovely way to pass the time. Why not try the Carrot Cupcakes from our new recipe book Deliciously Healthy as a healthy alternative to the traditional ones this Valentine’s Day.

Blog Post by Jodie Wood