So many of us have a complicated relationship with the food we eat. Body-image issues are incredibly common and many of us have been on the diet merry-go-round for much of our lives. Even if we are happy with our bodies, what we eat often seems to be tied in with our emotions.
I would say that the majority of my girlfriends (and some of the guys too!) would admit to reaching for a huge bar of chocolate or a tub of ice-cream if they are upset or stressed out every now and again to make themselves feel better, and I’m certainly no exception! And, surely, there’s no harm in that.
But for some, eating as a way of dealing with how we feel can become a more serious problem and leads to unhealthy patterns that can seem hard to break. Maybe you would just like to have a little more control of what and how you eat regardless of how you are feeling? Or, perhaps for you, eating habits are a way of dealing with your difficulties.
You’ll know by now from the previous posts in this series that I believe in the power of journaling to deal with my difficulties and I’d love to help you to have a go at this too.
How to Make and Use an Emotional Eating Journal
Emotional eating can lead to severe health issues and eating disorders. It is one of the leading reasons that people have an issue with dropping weight. You can stay on your healthy eating plan until your emotions get the better of you and the only way to work through them seems to be food.
If emotional eating is causing issues in your life, but you can’t seem to stop doing it, there may be an answer through journaling. Here is how to make and use an emotional eating journal to help you stop the pattern.
The Set-Up of an Emotional Eating Journal
You can use whatever type of journal you would like. The material isn’t the main issue with an emotional eating journal. What is important is how it is set-up. You need a section for what you are eating, the date, the time, and then an area to let you write out what may have led you to the emotional eating incident. There are loads of food diaries on the market. My Foody Diary is a great option. You could work the journaling into a diet or food diary, or if you want to be freer you could just use a notepad of your choice.
You may not think the foods you are eating are important, but some people have found that certain foods are more comforting and that the memory of those foods is connected to the trigger of the emotional eating.
For example, you may find that eating grilled cheese sandwiches are comforting during an emotional eating binge. Once you start journaling, you may find that the reason they are is because someone was verbally abusive in your past and that verbal abuse was always followed by a grilled cheese to make you feel better.
When to Use an Emotional Eating Journal
You should use the emotional eating journal when you feel the need to eat after a triggering event has occurred. This may mean that you are journaling during the emotional eating. That is fine. You can do that or you can use it in place of eating.
Once you start using the journal on a routine basis you will find that you reach for it instead of food, or that you are eating less because you are writing more.
How the Emotional Journal Helps You
Emotional eating journals helps you by reducing the amount you are eating during that moment. They also help you write down your thoughts, which means you can get to the root of the problem. This allows you to find out what is triggering you, and why you are being triggered to eat instead of other emotional responses.
The key point to remember with emotional eating journaling is timing. You need to journal when you feel the need to eat. For the first few entries, you may find yourself eating while journaling and that is okay. The point is to do it when you start the emotional eating so you can work through the issue in a healthier way.
The concept of journaling for emotional eating is not another diet fad. Lord knows we’ve had enough of those! Another one seems to pop up every five minutes, and if we’re honest, that’s the last thing we need. It is more about getting to know yourself in terms of your eating habits, and if those habits are emotionally self-destructive, trying to slowly change them so that your relationship with the food that you eat can become a positive one.
To add an even more positive spin on this type of journaling, you could combine it with creating a bank of healthy food ideas that make you feel good to replace those salty or sweet things you reach for. Why not compile a list of your favorite healthy feel-good recipes in the Weapons Of Choice Recipe Journal.
They say we are what we eat, and this is so true, not only in terms of our physical health but also our mental health. If you feel that you’d like to learn more about your own emotional eating, give this a go as a first step to creating a more healthy and happy relationship with your food.