Kristie: Taking the pledge against comfort eating

Kristie is a Bachelor of Education (Primary) student striving to maintain a healthy balance between study, work and a social life, similar to many. Kristie's ideas of relaxing include baking, contemplating places to travel one day, spending time with family, kicking around a soccerball and being a huge sucker for most TV soaps!

I am still waiting for the day when a stressed out smiley feasting on sugary foods becomes an emoticon. That, right there, would be the first one listed in the ‘Frequently Used’ emoji tab of my iPhone. I believe it should look something like this:


If there’s anyone who is pro at comfort eating, it’s me. I mean, how else do you survive university life? According to Google, comfort eating is the habit of eating to make yourself feel better, rather than to satisfy hunger. When you comfort eat, you’re likely to crave specific things, rather than just food itself. You’re also likely to overeat because you’re eating to achieve an emotion (happiness, relief) instead of to fill your belly. It’s a tough habit to break and super easy to justify to yourself. Here are just some of the things I tell myself when I’m reaching for the snacks.

  1. I have worked so hard on this assignment – surely I deserve a reward?
  2. I need a bit of sugar, my body is telling me so.
  3. One indulgent snack a day isn’t that bad (as if it would turn into more than one).
  4. I didn’t intend on eating the whole packet, it just happened.
  5. Half a piece of cake, then another half is different to eating one whole piece, right?

BAD. I know.

The medical experts tell me it is possible to live without the daily unhealthy goodness of chocolate, bickies and other sugary snacks. There’s just one buzz word that encapsulates what it takes to do so – willpower. I have decided that after years of uni, it is time. Time to break free from the sweet grips of sugary snacks and impulse eating. Time to set myself a pledge. And here it is…

  1. I will take regular breaks and reward myself in ways other than with food.
    Sometimes I have good intentions to set aside one day of super hard work where nothing else in the day is to be done other than uni work. In theory, this is great, but the reality is that we do find ourselves a tad bored from the monotony of staring at a computer screen filled with information. You need a bit of company, and in the full-on world of assignments, that company for me has largely been food. To combat this habit, I plan to take regular breaks every couple of hours and do something I enjoy to refocus, rather than rely on food for pleasure.
  2. I will plan my meals for the day to avoid resorting to unhealthy quick and easy foods.
    Comfort eating during uni work leads to overeating, which leads to a belly full of sugars and unhealthy fats which leads to no desire for healthy, home-cooked meals. By having nutritious and awesome foods to look forward to throughout the day and sticking to this plan, it will be easier to keep track of how much I have eaten. I guess it could be considered a compromise. To help me with this goal I’m going to use USQ’s free meal planning guide.
  3. I will only eat when I am hungry and will find other ways to overcome stress.
    It is only normal (I hope) that you don’t even have to be hungry to eat when you’re stressed. I plan to replace these naughty urges with the stimulation of essential habits like regular exercise. Sometimes we let stress get the better of our body and we need to take a step back and remember just how important it is that we look after ourselves. The stress will eventually go away. Getting back to a healthy lifestyle is a much harder feat.

Comfort eating, it’s been a great journey. We’ve had many ups and downs and you’ve seen me through many an assignment and exam. But the time has come for us to call it a day. From now on I’ll be taking regular breaks, enjoying nutritious meals I’ve planned in advance and saving my meals for when I’m truly hungry.

If you’re ready to take a stand against comfort eating too, check out USQ Senior Psychologist Jenny’s easy tips for creating and maintaining good habits. It takes time to break and rebuild habits, but with Jenny’s advice we CAN overcome comfort eating!  


Kristie: How to stay healthy during busy times

A-Z of healthy eating

Jenny: 3 easy ways to create lasting good habits