Allowing your emotions to control what you eat is a common problem a lot of women I work with have experienced – me included! You are using food to suppress your emotions as you’ve been told it’s not OK to show your emotions and feel sad, angry or upset. I want to assure you that it is okay to not always feel okay. And expressing and sharing your feelings has huge positive effects on your mental health.
We shouldn’t feel we have to numb our emotions, and especially not by eating, as inevitably when we do use food to comfort ourselves, we’re going for crisps and chocolate, not the healthy options. This means that afterwards you’re not only still feeling sad about what you were originally upset about, but you now also feel terrible about letting yourself eat so much rubbish. You find yourself stuck in a self-perpetuating guilty cycle. But I don’t want you to feel awful about yourself all the time!
Below are 3 tips to boost your mood and give you some ideas of other things you can do instead of reaching for the sugar when you feel upset.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, into the pit of your stomach. Then exhale slowly through your mouth, making sure your exhale is longer than your inhale. Taking 2, 3 or 4 deep breaths will help calm you and allow you to realise that you’re not actually hungry. You can then choose to do something more productive to help you feel better.
Serotonin is our feel-good hormone and typically our bodies cannot make enough of this to keep up with our lifestyles. So it’s important to eat foods that contain tryptophan which is an amino acid that helps boost serotonin.
Eggs are a great source of tryptophan. Keep some hard boiled eggs in the fridge so you have a quick and easy snack. Store the hard boiled eggs unpeeled in their shells but put a little mark on the shell so that you don’t get them mixed up with your uncooked eggs!
Almonds are another excellent source of tryptophan. Store small handfuls of nuts in releasable bags as a quick and easy snack – great for on the go.
And finally turkey is packed full of tryptophan. With Christmas around the corner, you may well be upping your intake, but throughout the year you can easily swap chicken or beef for turkey by using turkey mince or turkey steaks.
When things aren’t going well, it can be all too easy to focus on everything that’s going wrong. But if you take time to think of things you are grateful for and writing them down, it can be a really powerful tool to remind yourself that you do have things to be grateful for. You might be thankful for having a wonderful support system of friends, but equally even the simple things can make us feel good. Just getting a nice compliment or taking a nice walk can be things to be thankful for. Buy yourself a pretty notepad and use colourful pens and stickers to make the experience enjoyable and spark your creative side!
I hope you find the tips helpful. If you are feeling particularly overcome with problems and are struggling to focus on any positives, then you can also try writing down your problems and how you are feeling. It can help you clear your mind by writing down your worries, allowing you to acknowledge and process what you’re going through.