Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that involve extreme concern about eating, weight or shape plus disordered eating. They are not a lifestyle choice or “phase”.
WHAT IS EMOTIONAL EATING?
It is using food as “comfort” food, or using food as a treat or a reward. This becomes problematic when it is having a significant impact on you and your life.
It is common that people are unaware that this is a psychological problem and instead mistakenly think they are “greedy”. Emotional eating can be very distressing and have a huge impact on self-confidence. It is not an eating disorder but can be treated in therapy resulting in healthier self-esteem, improved confidence and a healthier relationship with food.
Emotional eating affects a significant proportion of the population in the UK. It includes any over or under eating which is driven by a psychological or emotional cue, rather than a physical cue such as being hungry or full. For example, people will often eat as a result of stress or in response to a distressing life event, rather than using other, healthier coping mechanisms.
Treatment for emotional eating involves developing awareness of the triggers linked with emotional eating and learning to implement healthier techniques to manage emotions so that resilience is developed. Useful treatments include guided self-help or cognitive behavioural therapy (includes mindfulness strategies). I offer an eight week programme which starts with a full assessment of a person’s eating difficulties and ends with a tailored eight week approach. We will set goals to work towards from the end of the first meeting. This approach combines cognitive behavioural strategies, mindfulness, dietetic advise and distress tolerance skills to help explore and address the reasons behind emotional eating.