Did you know that knitting may be the perfect antidote to stress eating? So if you think knitting isn't cool, you may just want to reconsider.
A 2009 study published in the journal of Eating and Weight Disorders put knitting to the test. The researchers wanted to see if knitting had any notable clinical benefits and whether it could be a useful tool in helping people lessen the amount of obsessing they do about food and their weight.
Avid knitters have been telling us for years about the therapeutic benefits of knitting. But how could it help prevent comfort eating? In part, the rhythmic movements and clicking of the needles can put you into a zone-like state. It is much like the trance comfort eaters experience while chewing on food. Thinking about nothing is boring and often a trigger for mindless eating. Doing something easy yet productive, like knitting, is a welcome mini break for an overloaded, stressed out mind.
The Study: The participants in this study were seeking treatment at an eating disorder treatment facility. In other words, these were people who chronically struggle with anxious thoughts about food and their weight. Their issues are generally much more intense than the typical emotional eater (so if it works for them, it is likely to work for you).
Intervention: The participants were taught how to knit and given supplies.
Results: The results? Overall, the participants reported that they were much less preoccupied with anxious thoughts of food and weight while knitting.
Almost three quarters of the participants indicated that knitting helped them in these ways:
- Lessened the intensity of their fears and thoughts about food/weight/shape
- Helped to clear their mind
- Reportedly had a calming and therapeutic effect
Why it Works: It is difficult to worry about food and do a visual spatial task at the same time. Something has to give. Also, creating something such as a blanket or scarf feels productive. Not to mention that you get a sense of achievement when you've mastered a new skill.
What if I Hate Knitting & Crafts But Need Help With Comfort Eating? That's okay. We aren't all meant to spin yarn into something crafty. If you don't like knitting, try another visual spatial task (video games, puzzles, cross-stitching, painting, computer games). Or, see 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food which has a variety of other ideas on calming yourself without food.
So, the moral of the story: Take a knitting lesson from your grandmother or a class online. If you are a comfort eater, find a visual spatial task like knitting to keep your hands busy and give your mind a place to rest without food.
Given how easy and inexpensive knitting is, it is worth a try.