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Tackle those binge cycles with top tips

By Features Reporter

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WHILE there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the odd bit of comfort food, emotional eating can become problematic for many people, who find themselves battling powerful binge-eating cycles.

This can lead to weight gain, which brings with it a whole host of associated health risks (such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease), and can also have a big impact on psychological wellbeing too.

Emotional eating can be a problem for some people.
Emotional eating can be a problem for some people.

While obesity isn’t always as straightforward as simply eating too much, Alexia Dempsey, a specialist eating disorders dietician at the Priory Hospital in Roehampton (priorygroup.com), says overeating can be a key contributor – and this can often be dictated by emotions.

This emotional eating can then become a “regular, daily demon” that fuels low self-worth. “Emotional or stress eating is something that affects us all on some level. Daily life can lead to negative emotions like stress, anger, sadness, fear, boredom, and loneliness and, in turn, to emotional eating,” she explains.

The occasional glass of wine after a ‘long day’, or rare tub of ice-cream after a break-up isn’t a major worry. Rather, it’s when emotional eating feels out of control, that Dempsey flags as a cause for concern.

“Emotional eating often comes on suddenly and feels like it needs to be satisfied immediately,” she says. “It happens as a way of suppressing or distracting negative thoughts and feelings, and is a form of self-soothing. In the short-term, it can feel functional, but in the long-term it can support a cycle of difficult and distressing feelings.”

There’s lots you can do to help tackle the patterns yourself. Dempsey has these top tips...

Have a plan. “Overeating can often be a result of ‘passive’ restriction. You might be running late so you skip breakfast, and then you find yourself too busy for lunch, leading you to rely on ‘grab and go’ snacks. The problem with doing this is that you feel hungry later in the day so you end up bingeing. To avoid falling into this habit, make sure to plan your food for the day to ensure you have regular meals.”

Enjoy balanced meals. “Always try to make sure that there is an adequate balance in your meals, including all of the major food groups – carbohydrates, protein, veggies and fats. This will help you feel full and encourage slow gastric emptying and prolonged satiety.”

Don’t restrict. “Restricting can lead to bingeing. This includes restricting food groups as well as missing meals. In my experience, the moment you decide to ban chocolate, crisps or carbohydrates completely, you introduce the idea of these food products to your consciousness.”

Seek support. “If you are worried about your eating, seek support from a registered specialist professional.”

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