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Emotional Eating - The Issue No Diet Book Ever Addresses

I don’t believe that any diet works as a stand alone entity, forever. I say this because humans are complexed, emotional beings.

We all use food as a tool to soothe our emotions on some level or another. We all emotionally eat at some point in our lives. So punting a ‘carbs are forbidden diet‘ or an ‘eliminate animal fats diet’ – on its own, is going to trigger those emotional tendencies and after some time, create an emotional binge OR just an emotional ‘cheat’. Ultimately causing that ‘diet-fail’ mentality and then guilt and then, oh some more emotional eating…

Humans use food to soothe various emotions, be it happiness, sadness, boredom or anxiety. When looking at trying to live a healthier life, whether you need to lose weight, improve blood sugar control, beat cancer or just be healthier; if we don’t address the ‘food-emotion’ link, then no matter what diet you follow, at some point you going to break it – because of emotions, not because you are weak or a failure.

So my approach to getting you to ‘your optimum level of health’ entails looking at your food (eating clean as most of you know) but then also assessing what emotions make you EAT or NOT EAT or ultimately veer from your chosen eating philosophy.

For the majority of you (ie. Not the diabetics or the die-hard banters), I would recommend ‘Clean Eating’ for two reasons. The first is because I believe it is a way of eating that maximizes nutrient intake and focuses on nutritional balance. But secondly, you are free to eat from ALL food groups, just in their whole form. Freedom is a very powerful emotion to feel around food. As soon as we restrict a whole food group, people start to feel deprived and that triggers emotional eating. Feeling seriously deprived is the first step in a diet failing long-term! No diet book on its own can help you become aware of YOUR EMOTIONS and their link to what you put into your mouth.

Do any of these sounds familiar:

  • The 15-year-old teenage girl, who gets dumped and sits in a dark room, watching a sad movie eating a tub of ice cream and a slab of bubbly.
  • The 32-year-old dietician (me) who actually stops eating when she is sad but loves to eat when she is super happy. She celebrates her happiness and food is her party.
  • The 45-year accountant who uses beer to soothe his stress and unhappiness at work.
  • The 60-year-old retired housewife who sits and eats 5 chocolate digestive biscuits at 4:00pm everyday because she is bored and unfulfilled in her life.
  • The 21-year-old varsity student who is so insecure and fearful about her body that she doesn’t eat anything all day except coke light and wine gums…

So the next time you Google a new diet or find yourself in the ‘diet’ section of Exclusive Books – don’t forget about the other side of the coin. No diet will ever work if you do not figure out what emotional issues you tackle with food. We are all emotional beings – that’s what makes us different from other animals. Being aware of emotional eating will help you live a more balanced life, no matter what dietary philosophy you choose to follow.

P.S. This is just another reason why dieticians exist. They are humans so they can talk to their clients about emotional eating – working out the intricate details on a psychological level. No book will ever be able to do this #justsaying.