I have struggled with comfort eating all my life. I will skip meals and eat sweet treats all day. Many times I’m not really enjoying the ‘treats’ but just feel compelled to eat them. I have tried so many times to overcome this habit and failed that I don’t think I will ever be able to now. Any ideas how to switch to a healthier attitude to food?
Thank you for your letter, it shows an openness and willingness to change even though you feel like this isn’t currently possible. Although this habit brings you feelings of guilt, it’s important to recognise and accept this as part of yourself. It is nothing to feel shame about, you are good enough as you are.
When you find yourself about to comfort eat, stop and ask yourself what emotions is it that you are feeling? Are you using food as a means to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions or as a means to procrastinate or something else? Could you wait for 10 seconds to see if the feeling passes or if you could resolve the problem without food? You could also use a food diary to track your the emotions and food intake, to see if there are any patterns.
Rather than belittling or criticising yourself over this habit, when you find yourself eating treats tell yourself the affirmation ‘I love and accept myself.’ Tell yourself this many, many times over the day, particularly when you feel bad about yourself or eating patterns. This may seem counterproductive, but no change is ever made through guilt or feelings that you should be or act in a particular way. You are good enough as you are and you do not need to change anything. By accepting yourself as you are, this habit will no longer serve a purpose and will fall away by itself.
You may also wish to set a new habit on regular meals. Use the affirmation ‘I enjoy eating three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I enjoy feeding myself with healthy, nourishing foods.’ Aim to say this affirmation 50-100 times a day until it becomes a new belief for you. As you begin to say it, your ego may protest with thoughts such as ‘I’m not a good enough cook’ or ‘I don’t have time.’ Thank them kindly for sharing and continue with the affirmation. Over time, these thoughts will diminish and you will naturally find yourself reaching for healthier, more filling foods.
Love and blessings,
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