5 strategies to help you stop eating when you are sad

The emotion of sadness can be painful. Sadness occurs when you lose something that you valued. Sadness is a state of low arousal and low motivation. When we are sad we have no impetus to do anything. Everything is an effort and it can seem like this feeling just won’t shift. Often we try and fill this emptiness with food. Think Bridget Jones gorging on a tub of Ben and Jerry’s in her pyjamas. Although this may temporarily distract us from the pain, a full stomach is never the answer to a broken heart.

Here are 5 tips to avoid over eating when you are sad.

1 Write down 3 ways in which this loss you have experienced is actually for the best in the long term. Maybe you know deep down inside that the relationship that has just ended wasn’t right for you and that you were holding onto it out of fear rather than love. Maybe losing your job is an opportunity for you to do something different that you always dreamt of doing and are truly passionate about it.

2 Everything is temporary. Remind yourself that the sadness you are feeling is temporary. It will pass. Its intensity will lessen just a little each day. Human beings are incredibly resilient and adaptable. Within a few months you will adapt to your new circumstances. All over eating will do in the long term is make you feel sad again as your weight increases and your self esteem lowers.

3 Phone a friend. Having a support network in times of sadness is essential. Identify a friend that can help support you through this. When you feel you are about to make a bad food choice phone he or she can help to life your mood and support you in making a better choice.

4 Work on your self esteem. Sadness will be less intense if you have high self esteem. Remember that The loss of something, no matter what it is never makes you less worthy or deserving of happiness and love.

5 Be an optimist. Your past does not determine your future. Everyone experiences sad and difficult times in their lives in the same way that everyone experiences happy times. No matter what cards you have been dealt never give up hope. No matter what challenges you are facing in your life stay strong and belief in your heart that your future will contain plenty of happiness. Overeating will simply give you something else to feel sad about in the long term. Your sadness will pass but the extra pounds could hang around for a long time if you develop the habit of using food to soothe it.

Khody Damestani MSc BSc (Hons) DIHP is a therapeutic coach, author and lecturer specialising in helping people overcome emotional eating. He sees clients at his private practice in Brighton and runs workshops. For more information contact him at info@khody.co.uk

justin robinson