There are a large number of us who turn to food in times of emotional distress:
There’s something about ice cream or chocolate or cookies that gives us a sense of relief- at least for that moment. When the food is gone and you’re left with the feelings again, and perhaps and uncomfortable feeling in your stomach because you ate to an unsatisfactory level- it may escalate into an even larger issue.
For years I would attempt to fill every emotional hole in my heart by filling my stomach. I let food become my emotional bandaid… but it was like putting a piece of Scotch tape over a gush of water in the bottom of the boat. It didn’t nothing but make me even more sad/frustrated/ anxious/mad/exhausted. Now, not only did I feel something really uncomfortable inside, I also felt it outside. My go-to would be to start dieting IMMEDIATELY. “Tighten up” the strings. Spend extra time doing cardio. Punish myself for being human and experiencing big emotions.
As I have worked to break up with dieting forever and understand the “why’s” behind so many of my diet-restrict-binge-purge behaviors, I’ve come to learn how to accept that I will always have these big emotions to deal with- thus, learn a more helpful way to deal with them, and also how to embrace that side of me. Some people just feel things stronger than others. And that’s OK.
I’ve asked some of my favorite people in the Body Positivity and Health areas for their best advice when it comes to Emotional Eating, and I’m excited and honored to share the results:
I had the honor and privilege of meeting Stacy recently, and she is truly a woman who wears her message and her heart on her sleeve. Stacy has a raw, genuine approach to life:
“My best advice when it comes to overcoming emotional eating in the moment is to have a plan in place for when emotional eating strikes. Here are my top 3 tools to utilize when we are about to embark on an emotional eating episode!
- Journal: First and foremost we need to deal with our emotions. It’s the only way we are going to learn and grow from what we are experiencing at that moment. So writing down our feelings and thoughts is extremely therapeutic and allows for us to gain clarity. We can use anything to get our thoughts down on paper and out of our head; from a really pretty journal to a composition book!
- Take a walk!: Literally just step outside into nature and take a quick walk. This can be down the road or just walk around in your own backyard. Something to get our bodies moving and out of the kitchen. Plus being in nature has a very calming effect on all of us so it can also provide some peace and clarity for a time where we need it the most!
- Make a cup of herbal tea: There have been plenty of nights where my emotions have hit me so hard from the day that I have found myself wandering into the kitchen and into the pantry. I always keep a fruit flavored herbal tea in the house for this very reason. So instead of eating my emotions, I am enjoying a warm cup of fruity tea. It’s mildly sweet, yet warm and comforting. I grab my favorite blanket and cuddle up on the couch with my cup of tea. Sometimes we just need that feeling of warmth and comfort to help ease whatever pain we may be feeling in our hearts and souls at that moment. And this does the trick!
Emotional eating happens to the best of us, but just having some tools in our toolbox can provide us the solution we need to deal with the situation at that time instead of numbing ourselves with food. Food is meant to be enjoyed and to nourish our bodies; never to numb the pain and agony we are feeling in our hearts, souls, and minds. So creating a backup plan to help calm us can be the first step in creating new habits to deal with life, especially at the times we all need it the most.”
I’ve known and followed Shira for a few years now, and I’ve always admired her “straight to the point” kind of approach to life. Her answer was 100% Shira; she said,
“When I’m thinking about eating for reasons other than being hungry, I simply ask myself if it is worth it and how will it make me feel?”