7 Tips to Overcome Emotional Eating
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair …, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”
(A Tale of Two Cities, Para.1, Line, 1)
We are certainly living in a unique time. But this quote from Charles Dickens is still just as relevant today. As many of us ride along the roller coaster of emotions during this trying time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all finding ways to cope.
Not only is there fear of getting the virus, but now we are worried about our jobs, our investments our futures. Working from home and being isolated has its own emotional stress. I’m an introvert, so I’m ok for a while if I don’t meet people in person. But humans are social creatures. We need other beings around us for comfort and support.
As a result of these challenging, emotional times, we turn to food for comfort. Let’s face it, food makes us feel good. Sugary, sweet, highly processed and palatable foods release the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine to our brain to get us to consume more…in the same way that cocaine does. The brain continues to seek these comforting foods to feel good.
Here are 7 tips to get you through this stressful time and future stressful times. Let’s face it, we are a very stressed-out society.
1. Stop! Breathe!
Before you open the refrigerator or reach for the bag of chips in the cupboard take a step back and take a breath. Not that you’ve paused, your brain won’t be on automatic pilot. You’ll be able to ask yourself “What am I really hungry for? Will this bag of chips or bowl of ice cream REALLY make me feel better?”. It’s time to be honest with yourself
Sometimes it’s a glass of water your body is calling for. Thirst can be misinterpreted in the brain as hunger because we are so accustomed to reaching for food instead of water. We reach for food at any point we are uncomfortable. Try a glass of water or tea before food.
2. Ask…Is this emotional hunger or physical hunger?
Once you’ve taken a moment to pause you can ask yourself if this is emotional hunger or physical hunger. It is emotional hunger if you’re looking at the clock and going to the kitchen because the clock says it’s lunchtime. It’s emotional hunger if you’re watching the news and getting worked up because COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire and you feel out of control
It’s physical hunger when it’s been several hours since your last meal and the hunger doesn’t go away if you’ve waited 5-10 minutes.
3. Stock your kitchen with healthy foods.
Out of sight means out of mind. Your brain automatically seeks out comforting, feel-good foods. If you don’t bring the processed, highly palatable, addictive foods in the house, you won’t be tempted to eat them. If they are already in the house, put the waaaaaay back behind the healthy alternatives. If you have to work harder at getting to it you’re less likely to eat it.
4. Make a list of alternatives.
What are some things you can do to stay occupied and out of the kitchen? I have a few suggestions but make your own list.
- Write that book
- Learn a new language- travel won’t be banned forever.
5. Be kind to yourself.
Self-compassion can decrease stress-eating. When you are your own best friend it is easier to resist the urge to find comfort in food. You won’t feel the need to disconnect from yourself and your feelings.
But if you happen to stress-eat, don’t beat yourself up. Know that we are wired to eat. Treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.
Being present and mindful get you reconnected to your body and it’s real feelings. In a study in the Journal of Obesity, women who underwent mindfulness training — learning stress reduction techniques, how to recognize hunger, and pay attention to taste — were less apt to stress eat and lost more belly fat compared to a control group. I urge all my clients to take at least 5 breaths before each meal. With each breath think of something to be grateful for.
7. Support your brain.
Your brain runs best when the body and gut are healthy. Some things to do keep the body and brain healthy:
Exercise – any way that you can. Keep your body active. There are many bodyweight exercise programs on YouTube. Or go for a walk. Dance like no one is watching.
Sleep. Making sleep a priority will balance your hormones and give you an advantage in making good decisions around food.
Support your brain with stress-reducing foods such as grass-fed beef, wild-caught salmon, blueberries, avocado, cinnamon, rosemary, lemon and many more.
Quality supplements for the brain, that also boost the immune system. We can’t get everything we need from food anymore. That’s why I’ve partnered with a Mental Wellness company that is on the cutting edge in brain health. The research on the connection between the gut (the 2nd brain) and the brain (the 1st brain) is exploding. Amare Global is leading the way. When we can get our gut bacteria healthy, it helps us make better decisions and gives us the confidence to make the right decision. It helps us become resilient to the everyday stress around us. It primes our immune system to be more alert to what might be coming in to attack it.
If you’ve taken the time to read to the end of this article, I applaud you. You are ready to take your health to the next level. I am ready to support you in any way that I can. Click here to book a phone call with me. It won’t cost you a thing. This is my gift to you.
Stay healthy and vibrant.