In many ways, right now is such a difficult time for people. So many are turning to their fridge and are emotionally eating to cope. If you have been emotionally eating – it isn’t something to feel bad about. It is normal to turn to food to soothe. In day to day situations – happy, bored, sad and lonely – people eat! However, things take a negative turn when you overindulge in your favourite vices, including cookies, chips, excess alcohol, and too much take out food. Before you know it, you may end up in a state where you’re not feeling your best. Don’t fret, though; there are ways to battle this coping mechanism. Dr. Joey Shulman shares advice on how to eat mindfully, plus how to stay healthy during chaotic times.
Signs and Symptoms
There are signs to look out for if you are an emotional eater. It is important to remember that we all emotionally eat. This becomes more of an issue if it becomes a habitual daily pattern. Some signs and symptoms that you may be emotionally eating include:
- Trying repetitively but failing to keep weight off
- Feeling frantic and out of control when eating
- Eating frequently when not hungry
- Binge eating large proportions of unhealthy food items
- Late night eating
- Turning to food during times of stress or despair
- Continuing to eat – even when full
- Feeling guilty after a food binge
Keep in mind – these strategies may take a few attempts – Rome was not built in a day. You will, eventually, become more mindful and put an end to emotional eating if you put in the work. A few suggestions to consider include:
- Placing a dot on your hand. Prior to eating (especially at night) ask yourself – am I truly hungry or am I sad, lonely, stressed or bored. Before you choose to eat – look at the dot – it will give you the brief 1 second gap needed.
- Keep foods on hand that will not cause inflammation or weight gain during times of stress. Mini unsweetened applesauce is an amazing option, baby carrots, cucumbers, frozen mango pieces or grapes and herbal teas.
- Try chewing a piece of gum to see if you can get the emotional or frantic feeling to eat to pass.
- Have some protein or fat. If you are actually hungry – protein or fat will fill you up. Turkey slices, walnuts and or a few almonds are a great choice.
Ways to naturally lower cortisol (your stress hormone)
It is important to regulate your body’s stress levels by controlling your cortisol hormone. Some ways to lowering cortisol include:
- Listening to music on your iPod, as music has been shown to improve serotonin levels
- Getting outdoors – face in the sun when you’re out – absorbing vitamin D, aka happy hormones
- Replacing white sugars with natural ones – white sugars will “crash” your mood
- Although we are in a stressful time, try to avoid eating inflammatory foods
- Make sure to get off of your electronics when you can – too much screen time can raise irritation, anxiety, etc. Instead, do some stretching: yoga, hot/cold shower, chop vegetables – organize a drawer etc.
Finally, remember strength lies in activity so make sure to get moving!
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