Many people unknowingly use food and the art of eating, as a way to manage uncomfortable emotions. It is very easy to get into this type of situation, and many of us are guilty of this if we take a good hard look at ourselves. We also need to stop wrongfully thinking that this type of behaviour is reserved only for overweight people.
Nutritionists Not Excluded
I too eat my emotions this from time to time. Especially when I am faced with a stressful situation that I feel overwhelmed by. As being someone who lives with generalised anxiety disorder, not dealing with emotions appropriately comes all to easy to me sometimes (and gets me into a lot of bother let me tell you!).
It is through my own observations of myself, that I know it is too easy to robotically go and eat stacks more food than we need, even healthy food, in the hopes that it will in some way help us cope emotionally that bit better.
But it doesn’t. As the problem we were trying to drown out by eating still remains once we have finished eating, and so do the feelings we have that surround them. But maybe this is also part of the appeal to all of us who eat our emotions. We crave to shut down for a while, to switch off and food provides us with this moment. Maybe even a moment of peace from the internal noise stress can create for us. A moment to perhaps gather our thoughts and catch our breath perhaps.
So you see, no one is exempt from being an emotion eater. Not even a nutritionist. Unhealthy habits are just too easy to form in this day and age whilst we are under emotional stress. But remember, new healthy habits can also be just as easy to form. Which is why, if you know you are an emotion eater, that you start making available in your home or office healthier snacks to eat lots of when you are emotional. As by doing this you will be lessening the damage to your body until you have the mental capacity to then take on getting to the root cause of your stress through something more productive like counselling or meditation classes.
Science Says Chewing Makes Us Feel Good
Using food is far too easy in my opinion to cope with emotions because the art of chewing food actually produces serotonin, one of the feel good chemicals. And your body and mind know this, so it is no coincidence you might enjoy eating when you are stressed.
As when you are chewing, your body is busy lowering cortisol levels (a stress hormone) and raising serotonin levels ( a feel good hormone). But there are better ways to deal with excess cortisol levels (more on that in an upcoming article), but for now instead of trying to get to the bottom of why you emotionally eat, which is a mammoth task to take on whilst someone is stressed, try to ensure your food choices you emotionally eat with are smarter. This will ultimately make you feel better later on in the day, as you won’t have a big energy/blood sugar crash from eating refined sugar laden snacks, which can also cause more moodiness and stress all on their own.
Smarter Food Swaps When Emotional Eating Strikes
Learning to deal better with your emotions, be it from old unresolved situations or new ones, will and does take time. But whilst you are working on that, in the mean time, it is easier to perhaps start adding in more healthier foods to your cupboards and office, so that when you have a moment where eating your emotions becomes your way of dealing with stress – at least you are reducing the damage by eating healthier foods.
- Is chocolate your emotional food support? Instead buy carob coated sugar free raisins and nuts – (kinder to your teeth and mood)
- Are cakes and pastries your emotional food support? Instead buy raw desserts or make your own – (most store well in the freezer too)
- Are sweets your emotional food support? Instead go for homemade roasted almonds and cashews that have been sprinkled with coconut blossom sugar. This will give you a little sweet tooth fix but is much healthier than regular table sugar.
- Is coffee your emotional drink support? This is a common one that is overlooked at being used to also prop a person up emotionally. Coffee can be dehydrating which causes more stress and can cause erratic blood sugar levels which will further mess up your chances of having a well balanced mood. Instead go for filtered water infused with mint or berries if you do not like it plain, and switching to chicory coffee if you still crave that coffee like taste. Chicory coffee is caffeine free, and is a good for also supporting digestion.
Deal With The Food First, Then Seek Counselling When Ready
Dealing with emotions and stress through eating is a very common situation many people find themselves in. Until you find yourself in a situation strong enough to go for counselling to help unravel why you are partaking in this type of behaviour in the first place, try eating your emotions with healthier and cleaner foods. This will go a long way to improving your mood and stress levels. As when eating your emotions with healthier foods, your energy levels will be more stable and you will feel less guilty about eating too much junk food later on in the day.