Lately, I’ve developed a habit of eating dessert in bed. I scoop ice-cream in a little mug (you know, for portion control) and sneak upstairs for a few moments of blissful alone time in my busy house. I watch a show on my phone (Parks & Recreation, in case you’re wondering) and I scoff my treat. “This is self-care,” I tell myself, but I know better. Of course, I recognise that this is quite different to a more self-destructive sort of secret eating that is the hallmark of a disordered relationship with food.
Still, it’s a small red flag, because I know there are better ways to cope. Oftentimes, I’ll look down and the ice-cream is not there anymore. This is mindless eating. And it’s just one of the ways I use food to bring comfort.
We’ve all been there. At least that’s what statistics tell me: emotional eating affects 83 percent of people who struggle with their weight, Australian studies have found. Also this: female (mice) are more likely than male (mice) to reach for junk food when they experience negative emotions. And for once it’s not our hormones, which is what I have always thought fuelled my less controlled eating moments.