When my dad died I remember people kept bringing food – so much food.

It was only when I gobbled down my third corned beef and mustard bread roll (I know, I know – but it was delicious) that I realised I was not going to be one of those people that goes off food in times of despair and stress.

When the chips are down, it is to chips I seem to turn.

Food has certainly been my friend in the past five years as I have navigated through the new world of special needs parenting.

Bad day - biscuit or three.

No sleep – pieces of hot buttery toast.

Child not feeding – some ice cream.

DLA form to fill in - whole chocolate cake.

I know it is not great (and so does my waistline) and I’ll have little bursts of fitness where I’ll begin to feel like my old self. Then a crisis will hit and I’ll hit the crisps.

There is a reason why it is called comfort food after all.

As my little boy gets older and heavier, I want to be healthier and stronger so that I can stick around as long as possible to look after him. This means I need to take better care of myself.

So how to break this unhealthy cycle of reaching for the biscuit tin every time I feel stressed, scared or even bored?

I know it is not going to be easy, but I need to give it a shot for myself and my family.

Here’s what I have learnt so far:

I need to know what my triggers are. For me lack of sleep is my biggest trigger for eating more. Although I can’t control the former, I can try to control the latter by recognising this will be a harder day.

I need to recognise the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. And how emotional eating will never leave me feeling satisfied.

Once the cheesecake has gone – the emotion will still be there. But I get to add guilt for stuffing my face to it.

I need to keep only healthy snacks in the house – apparently emotional hunger only wants fatty-type foods.

Keeping a diary of what I have eaten will help. Too often I will mindlessly eat and not know how much I have consumed in a day.

Writing it down shocks me and makes me more aware of what I am putting in my mouth the next day.

Too often I will eat a chocolate bar and then wonder where it has gone as I didn’t even taste it. What a waste.

If I try to control the urge to gorge when it hits by waiting five minutes, hopefully the urge will pass.

I am going to try and walk for a bit each day to clear my head of any built up stress and hopefully increase this exercise routine each day.

I certainly need to slowly change my mind set and realise that I don’t need food to help me cope. That I can manage all my emotions one day at a time without a tasty crutch.

It is time to look around and see there are plenty of ways to get comfort and pleasure. More date nights, spending time with friends, reading a book, a bubble bath or laughing with the children.

Most importantly, I need to start believing that I am worth it. Because I really am.

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