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Louise Thompson: Overcoming emotional eating: comfort

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Do you comfort eat when you're feeling down like Bridget Jones?
Do you comfort eat when you're feeling down like Bridget Jones?

Using food as a sadness distractor is well-documented. Think back to Bridget Jones and her Darcy-less weekends of icecream and vodka binging! The thing with comfort eating is ... well ... it kind of works. Temporarily we do get comfort. We can forget about being sad while we eat. And then, mere moments after we have finished the half litre of icecream, we can forget about being sad as we can focus on hating ourselves for eating all that icecream. Genius! The self-hating talk can fill the gap where the sadness would be. In a while that wears off and we start to feel sad again, which doesn't feel good, so to escape it the next cycle of comfort eating will begin.

What's the solution? Well, sorry to say it but the way out of feeling sad is by allowing yourself to feel the sadness in the short term. Allow it. Feel it and then let it move through you. Painful emotions can't actually be dodged, escaped and avoided. No icecream holds that power.

If we can pause long enough to put down the spoon, we would be better served to ask ourselves the following questions:

• Why am I sad?
• What can I do to release this sadness? How can I be brave and allow myself to feel it? Maybe it's having a good long cry. Maybe it's a solo walk on the beach. Maybe it's a sad songs playlist. Whatever works for you.
• What non-food things bring me genuine comfort or connection? It might be calling a friend, or a watching a particular movie, or walking in nature, or a girls' night out.

List 10 non-food things that bring you comfort or connection. Remember, we eat emotionally because we are trying to change our emotional state. So, think of 10 things that can be your "go to" list for comfort. It might be a phone call with Mum, a movie under a blanket or a cuddle with the cat or the kids.

Action step

Remember: Comfort eating does not really bring comfort. It just blocks the thoughts of sadness. It doesn't make them disappear, it just stores them up for another day. It's not food's job to deal with your sadness. It's yours. Allow yourself to be sad if you are sad. There is no emotion so extreme or powerful that you cannot bear it. Support yourself with non-food-based sources of comfort and you will come through. And still be able to fit in your jeans.

Louise Thompson is a life coach, yoga teacher and corporate escapee. For more from Louise, visit or connect on Facebook.

- NZ Herald

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Inspirational advice to rock your life with energy, passion, happiness and balance.

Louise is a corporate escapee turned wellbeing pro. After 17 successful years on the commercial side of media a serious health crisis led to a complete lifestyle overhaul and a brand new direction. As a life coach, and the first Martha Beck accredited coach in New Zealand, she loves nothing better than to help her clients get inspired, get happy and make their own rules for a connected, passion-fueled life. Her first book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to High Energy Happiness, aims to motivate people with practical solutions to step up and live their best lives. A qualified yoga teacher she also runs her own yoga studio and leads corporate wellness seminars. Louise loves to run, cook and dance, and is an incurable travel junkie.

Read more by Louise Thompson

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