How to stop comfort eating: For ways to curb the habit if you’re an emotional overeater

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Speaking exclusively to the Express, May Simpkin – leading nutritionist and consultant to Enzymedica UK – gives four key ways to curb comfort eating, which may be needed as another lockdown is on the horizon.

Minimise temptation

“It’s so much harder to avoid reaching for comfort food goodies if they’re on display,” said Simpkin.

“Research has shown that the inability to resist tempting foods is driven by neural pathways that alter the decision making and impulse control systems,” she explained.

Equipped with this knowledge, the best course of action recommended by Simpkin is to “avoid buying” treats in the first place.

Of course, an occasional treat may be permissible, but it’s advised not to make it a regular occurrence.

“When shopping, re-route around the supermarket so you don’t find yourself in front of the array of brightly coloured attractive displays of – essentially refined sugar!” exclaimed Simpkin.

“If you don’t see them, you’re less likely to put them in the trolley and therefore less likely to eat such foods.”

Essentially, there may be certain aisles in the supermarket that you can avoid altogether, such as the confectionary aisle.

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Eat nutritious, wholesome foods

“Without the opportunity to go out to restaurants and more time on your hands, it’s time to get into the kitchen and cook more meals from scratch,” said Simpkin.

“This is one of the most important factors in improving overall health,” she added.

Before heading to the supermarket, it’s best to be prepared by taking the time to plan nutritious meals.

This means you can stick to a shopping list full of healthy ingredients, meaning you’re less likely to put unhealthy treats in your trolley.

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Simpkin suggests buying whole foods that are “filling and nutrient dense”, as eating right can improve mood, energy levels and can dampen food cravings.

“Aim to eat a rainbow, ideally seven-a-day; five portions of vegetables and two fruits,” recommended Simpkin.

“If you’re eating healthy and filling foods, you will feel full and satisfied for longer and less likely to crave a comforting snack,” said Simpkin.

However, a sudden increase in dietary fibre can cause stomach cramps and bloating.

To counteract this, Simpkin suggests taking a digestive enzyme supplement, such as Digest Complete from Enzymedica UK, to help break down your food.

Drink more water

“More often than not, thirst is mistaken for hunger,” revealed Simpkin. Thus, it’s likely people reach for comfort foods when they’re dehydrated.

“Avoid becoming dehydrated in the first place by drinking more water, herbal teas and even tea and coffee if you’re not sensitive to caffeine,” she said.

“Don’t forget, soups, vegetables and fruits all contribute to your hydration levels.”

“You should also watch your alcohol intake,” warned Simpkin. “Alcohol can increase your appetite and you may find yourself attracted to high carbohydrate or high-fat foods.”

Move more

“Exercise is a mood booster, but it also has an appetite suppressing effect,” revealed Simpkin.

“It’s not always easy to head outside if it’s cold and rainy but if you do make the effort, you’ll never regret it!

“That said, with so many online exercise options available, exercising indoors will also provide the same benefits.”

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