Emotional eaters workshop planned for Marlborough after spike in weight-related concerns

An emotional eaters workshop is planned for Marlborough following a large number of weight-related concerns from ...
FILE

An emotional eaters workshop is planned for Marlborough following a large number of weight-related concerns from patients. (File photo)

Do you binge eat when you're bored, lonely or upset? Do you graze to stave off low self-esteem?

Then there's a chance you're an emotional eater. But help is at hand.

An emotional eaters workshop is planned for Marlborough following a large number of weight-related concerns from patients.

The Marlborough Primary Health Organisation is developing the workshop, which is in its early stages, to help clients formulate a non-diet approach to eating and focus on health instead of weight loss.

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PHO community dietitian Jenni Gane said the programme also aimed to help clients understand why it was difficult to change their eating habits, identify personal triggers, and learn new strategies to make healthier choices.

She said other proven, effective programmes for emotional eaters were also being reviewed.

Weight loss support was the largest referral reason to the Marlborough Community Dietician Service at the PHO, with 70 per cent of all individual appointments between January and March this year being for weight-related concerns. 

Many of those clients admitted to using food when they were bored, lonely and upset, leading to weight gain.

Counsellor Lena Cromartie said emotional eating could be defined as using food to respond to negative feelings. Some people kept emotions at bay by eating, while others tried to change emotions by eating. 

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She said there were many kinds of emotional eating, such as grazing, binge eating and compulsive eating.

From her work, Cromartie found the most common reasons for emotional eating were feelings of being overwhelmed and low self-esteem.

Cromartie had a binge eating disorder for a few years herself and felt out of control around food, but she said it was important not to assume all emotional eaters felt out of control. 

She worked tirelessly to help other people through eating disorders and was passionate about spreading the message that eating disorders were possible to overcome.

She said a support workshop was a "terrific" idea, as it was possible to create one-to-one strategies, with the extra benefit of having other people around to reduce shame and low self-esteem, which was a huge issue for emotional eaters.

The workshop's idea to get away from the dieting mentality was also a helpful step for patients, as the problem often started with dieting, Cromartie said.

Dietician Marion Van Oeveren agreed a support workshop would provide a safe environment to discuss sensitive issues with like-minded people and develop strategies to cope with the "vicious cycle" of emotional eating, as overeating could lead to more stress and unhappiness. 

Van Oeveren said a skilled facilitator could also help to shed light on new ways to change behaviour and thought patterns.

 - The Marlborough Express

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