Some people are confused and amazed at their excess weight as they are barely aware of how often they eat, or even what they eat.
Increasingly people eat as a secondary activity while walking, driving, watching television, or surfing the net so that their food consumption barely registers with them.
It has been proven that keeping a food diary can be a useful tool to help encourage a greater awareness and even an enhanced sense accountability. For some people, knowing they have decided to log everything they eat makes them less likely to binge or make poor food choices.
Food diaries are popular with slimming clubs who focus on calories or counting points or general food restrictions but emotional eaters already understand it's not about what they put into their stomach it's about what's going on in their heads
The food diary Liz Hogon and I created in our book 7 Simple Steps to Stop Emotional Eating (Hammersmith Books, London) is more illuminating as it makes the connection between your hunger levels and your emotional triggers to eat.
Our food and mood diary asks you to note your hunger level each time you eat using a quick zero to ten scale - where zero is not hungry at all, and ten is ravenously hungry. The food diary also asks you to write a brief appraisal of how you are feeling when you actually eat. For instance, if you are feeling angry, frustrated or bored.
It will only take a few days for you to be able to see a pattern in your own eating and your personal emotional triggers.
From keeping a food and mood diary you may be surprised to find that you are accustomed to grazing on food for most of the day. You may discover you only ever allow yourself to experience low levels of hunger before you eat. For some people, even a slight feeling of hunger can trigger strong feelings of anxiety so they regularly eat with only small gaps between meals.
Alternatively, you may discover from your food and mood diary that long stretches of time go by when you do not eat at all so that by the time you do you are over-hungry and ravenous in fact so that you feel completely out of control around food and overeat or make poor food choices.
Here are some examples of trigger emotions from clients. See if you recognise any of these triggers in your own patterns of eating.
After dinner, I feel panicked knowing there is no more food until tomorrow.
The children are in bed and I am alone downstairs feeling lonely with my crisps and soda.
When I drink alcohol all my good intentions around food just go
In the car after work, I am so angry I eat biscuits the whole way home.
I park the car around the corner and eat ice cream because he thinks I’m dieting.
I go without food all day and eat in front of the TV all evening.
I buy my binge foods from different shops so the shopkeepers don’t know how much I eat.
I take a tray of my favourite things to eat to bed with me — it’s my comfort.
Start keeping a food and mood diary yourself just for few days and play detective with the evidence you collect.
Consider what could you be missing or what would you like to have in the life that could be triggering you to eat?
You can download our Food and Mood Diary pdf for free in the members only area of www.your7simplesteps.com See Therapy Tools
Contact me if you already know your eating is out of your control and tired of struggling on your own you can schedule a discovery call with me on the button at the top of this page