Bismi’LLÂHir Rahmânir Raheem
If you feel stuck in a rut because of comfort eating then here are a few reminders that might help change your way of thinking about food.
It’s always wise to take heed of the wisdom of others.
1. What is comfort eating, really?
It’s to distract oneself from negative feelings by indulging in food, mainly unhealthy foods.
2. When you are comfort eating, what are you essentially doing?
Putting any kinds of foods, beneficial or not, in large or small amounts, into your stomach, whilst imagining that it will cure the problem.
3. But what really happens when you do that?
Emotionally, not much. Snacking on junk food might give you an instantaneous boost. But that boost only lasts for a moment. After that you’ll feel as low as before you started eating and you’ll go in search of another distraction. You may even feel worse about yourself if this habit leads you to encounter health problems such as obesity and diabetes.
4. Then where is the REAL problem?
The real problem that you keep pushing away and worsening with the consumption or overconsumption of food, lies in your heart and mind.
5. So what is the true purpose of food
- Food is mainly for the growth and repair of the body.
- It’s a source of energy.
- The right foods eaten in moderation can act as medicine and can enhance your overall health and performance levels.
6. Are ALL comfort foods bad? Should comfort eating even be a thing?
Not all comfort eating is harmful. In fact, it is proven in the Sunnah that certain foods can be eaten at times of grief to soothe the heart, e.g. Talbina (a type of oatmeal). As previously mentioned, the right foods eaten in moderate amounts can be as beneficial as medicine. In order for a comfort food to be considered beneficial, it has to be nutritious and release good chemicals in the body.
7. What should be done then to fight against harmful comfort eating?
Understand what makes you reach for food. (e.g. negative feelings, boredom, over-excitement etc.). Before you eat whatever it is that you want to eat, try and sit down and ask yourself the following questions:
- How long ago did I last eat?
- Am I hungry?
- Why am I eating?
- What is my REAL issue? Why do I think I need/want food?
- Can I fix my issue by actions instead?
- Is what am I about to eat healthy?
- Will it improve my body/mind or will it make my body/mind worse?
- Can I really fix something in my mind by filling my stomach?
- Should I really eat it then?
8. How should I proceed if I’m on the verge of comfort eating?
- Before you eat, check to see how long ago you’ve last eaten. Wait around 4 hours between meals/eating sessions. If you get really hungry earlier or later than that, then listen to your body.
- If you are hungry, eat something that will benefit you.
- If you are tempted to eat something unhealthy, say no and ask yourself; what is the point of eating something whose positive effects will vanish in a moment? After I have eaten it and the initial mood boost has worn away, I will be left the same as I was before, and perhaps even worse.
- Don’t let impulsiveness, feelings of helplessness and food get mixed up, because this fogs up your mind and prevents you from thinking properly. Don’t be afraid to sort your thoughts out. Question your every move.
- Understand that food’s primary role is to nourish you.
- Figure out what your problem really is and address it directly without the use of food. For example, if you want to eat because you’re bored, stop and remind yourself that you are not hungry, eating is not necessary, and eating unhealthy food won’t cure your boredom.
- Divert your thoughts to a more useful and appropriate activity. If it’s nighttime for instance, you really should be in bed! If you are sad, do some dzikr instead, or do something that will cheer you up. Force yourself to turn away from food, because that is not where your solution lies.
Lastly, if you do end up caving into your craving, don’t lose hope. Start over again from that moment. Go about your day as you would and wait until you truly feel hungry for your next meal.
That’s it. I hope this post was beneficial. Let me know if you’ve got any other tips on how to curb comfort eating.
Jazaakoum ALLAHU khayran.