These are crazy times we are living in. Never in our lifetime have we experienced lock-downs, shut-ins or social isolation. All this on top of the concerns of getting sick. It is no wonder that people are a flurry of emotions, whether those emotions be stress, anxiety, fear, loneliness, boredom, depression – these are all very legitimate emotions. But many people don’t know how to effectively deal with these emotions. And how you manage your emotions can either empower you or debilitate you.
So, I want to address one of common ways people have been dealing their emotions during these times – and that is through emotional eating. We all know that food will never solve any problem. In fact, it only compounds our problem by adding excess weight and fuels our inner critic for self-attack. Despite knowing this, we do it anyway. Why is that?
The causes of emotional eating are quite varied. Food can certainly be pleasurable, but the longer-lasting effects of emotional eating are negative. Understanding the causes of emotional eating makes the solutions easier to identify. So, let’s look at some of the typical causes:
- Food is used as a main source of pleasure. We are pleasure seeking organisms. We are meant to seek pleasure and avoid pain. If we are not getting enough pleasure, food is an easy source of that pleasure – especially when consuming processed foods. Processed foods use added “ingredients” that hijack our brain chemistry and manipulate our moods.
If the primary way you make yourself feel good is via food, you’re going to struggle to control your eating. Try to incorporate pleasure throughout your day. I know during these times that it can be difficult, but try to find little things that can bring you pleasure. A few ideas include connecting via facetime with a good friend, reading, listening to music, dancing, taking a walk, playing with a pet.
Something that may help is creating a pleasure inventory – finding the little things that bring you pleasure
- The Food You Eat – Whole natural foods rich in nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables, contribute to greater energy and positive emotions. Whereas foods high in bad fats, sugars and chemicals are directly linked to negative emotions. Also, processed foods have added “ingredients” that stimulate your appetite and suppress your fullness reading, causing you to crave and eat more. So, limit your intake of processed food. Now I’m NOT saying you have to absolutely forbid them – which brings me to the next cause…
- Dieting – Diets themselves often contribute to emotional eating and overeating. Diets set up restrictions, and it’s just human nature that we want what we cannot have. Also, diets set up an all-or-nothing mentality. So, when you do have a “forbidden food” you end up going overboard because you ‘blew’ anyway. By ‘allowing’ the food you take away the control from the food and it does not continue to ‘call your name.’
I could write a whole book on this topic alone – in fact I did. If you are interested in the condensed version, you can check out my E-book (for free) “Put an End to Overeating”. You’ll find the link at the end of the blog.
- A lack of awareness during eating. It’s much easier to overeat when your attention is elsewhere. Whether your attention is on friends, the TV, or your thoughts, a lack of awareness can lead to overeating. So, start practicing mindful eating – when you’re eating, do nothing else but eat. Keep your focus on your meal.
- A lack of other options for dealing with discomfort. When we feel bad, we look for ways to feel better. Those that eat emotionally don’t see the other options they have available for dealing with uncomfortable feelings. What could you do instead of eating when you feel bad? Below are just a few suggestions.
How to Soothe Yourself Without Turning to Food
- Accept your feelings. Embracing uncomfortable emotions is the first step in being able to process them. Instead of denying your feelings , you can acknowledge the situation and decide how to address it.
- Cultivate gratitude. Being grateful instantly brightens your outlook. Count your blessings and express your appreciation.
- Be active regularly. Moving around reduces physical and mental symptoms of stress. Take a long walk, go for a bike ride or even dance around your house.
- Check your posture. Scan your body for tight spots. Stretch out your neck and limbs. Squeeze your muscles together, and then open up to release any anxiety that has been building up. Stand tall, lower your shoulders, and open your chest.
- Connect with others. Build a strong support network. Many are shut in with their family, make it quality time. But beyond that, there are many other options to connect via video chat, phone or even social media. Ask for help when you’re struggling and take your mind off your own worries by looking for ways to serve others.
- Listen to music. Music has a powerful effect on how you feel. Cheer yourself up by listening to your favorite music. Even better – dance around the house. No one will see you now anyway.
- Breathe deeply. Using your breath to lower stress is fast and free, and you can do it anywhere. Using deep abdominal breaths, create a slow, gentle rhythm as you pay attention to the air entering and exiting your nostrils. Gradually extend the time you spend exhaling to carry any disturbing thoughts out of your brain. For tips on how to properly do diaphragmatic breathing and its benefits, you can check out the free resource “The One Simple Thing” in the link below.
And if you haven’t yet watched my video “Avoiding Quarantine Weight Gain” go do so now. This video provides more tips and techniques on handling emotional eating. You can also head over to my website at: www.KPEmpoweringU.com/Worldwide for more free resources including:
- “The Ones Simple Thing” PDF
- “Put an End to Overeating” Ebook
- Positive affirmations to “Conquer Emotional Eating”
- And more
If you have any questions, or if I can be of support in any way, please feel free to reach out. And always remember – where attention goes, energy flows. So, focus on the positive and make it a fantastic day!