By Sierra Buckley, DIY Cleanse Intern
Have you ever found yourself with a bag of candy that goes from full to empty in about 5 minutes? Oops.
THIS is an example of mindless and emotional over-eating! Let’s face it – we all have some sort of emotional connection with food. It can be a major source of comfort as it is meant to nourish our bodies and make us feel good! But, that can be taken to an extreme. Anyone else head straight for ice cream after a long day or that really painful breakup?
When the goin’ gets tough, it isn’t uncommon to alter our diets in such a way that deprives us of being healthy, sustained, and nourished. We may find ourselves using emotional eating because it makes us feel better and acts as a distraction from whatever yucky stuff we may be experiencing.
EATING AS A DISTRACTION
Maybe it’s that bag of candy, tortilla chips, glass of wine… It can even be a bowl of kale! Anything we scarf down in a matter of minutes without realizing is an example of eating without awareness, which can often lead us to overeat.
If you are using food as a distraction, it’s time to revisit your emotions. You may feel like being angry or sad is unproductive, but when you ignore these feelings, you end up with the classic bottled-up emotions and ready to explode scenario. By addressing emotions, you validate yourself and your feelings, which makes you less likely to turn to an unhealthy distraction, like emotional eating.
EXERCISE: ADDRESSING EMOTIONS
When you are starting to get the blues, try this exercise below to say “Hey, I see you!” to your emotions, and help get you out of the eating-as-a-distraction funk.
- Pause and notice how you are feeling. Note any tension in the body.
- Try stating exactly how you are feeling. (“I’m so upset because…”)
- Continue to stay with this feeling, mentally, physically, and emotionally, until you feel some form of release or relaxation. Stay here as long as you need to.
- When you’re ready, shake out any lingering tension. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
- Address how you feel after acknowledging your emotions.
You are on your way to inner peace, sweet thing. The situation may not be resolved, but the goal is not to let it control you or your behavior.
FOOD AS A REWARD
Perhaps you are perfectly aware of the foods you choose to indulge in, because it’s the one thing you look forward to after a long day. Are you itching for a silky piece of dark chocolate at the end of the day? According to a scientific review done by the Food Addiction Institute, certain foods we crave, especially those high in sugar or fat, can evoke the same feel-good reaction in our brain that is also triggered by alcohol and other addictive drugs. In the same review, it is also shown that people who overload on carbohydrates have the same genetic markers that can indicate a drug or alcohol addiction. Long story short, food can actually be addicting, which can cause emotional or over-eating.
PRACTICING SELF CARE
If you are using food as a reward, check in with yourself. First, address your physical state. Have you been sleeping well? Are you eating right? Both these things can cause emotional or over-eating. Then, adopt some self-care practices away from food that are rewarding to you. Taking care of yourself will help you avoid using emotional eating as a way of dealing with things.
Brainstorm your favorite ways to pamper yourself. Here are some of my faves!
- Listening to music
- Girl time
- Salt baths
- Breathing exercises
- Draw or color (Adult coloring books are a thing!)
- Sip tea
While working on strategies to combat emotional eating, it is important to still maintain a positive attitude about food. Food should not be your sole source of enjoyment, but it can be a very pleasurable experience to benefit your health. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE any chance I get to cook or bake – especially if I get to enjoy a dish prepared with love in the presence of good company. Our experiences around food can and should be a positive.
From working with Emily, I’ve picked up some awesome mindful eating tips for truly enjoying meal time! Check it out:
- Eat meals with friends or family when you can. Eat slowly and talk.
- Make eating an act all by itself. No computer, reading, phone, or television.
- Use all your senses. Observe and smell your food, note its texture and taste.
- Put your utensil or food down after every bite you take.
- Chew thoroughly until your food is liquid. You can try counting chews.
- Sit quietly for a few minutes after you finish eating, and consider going for a walk.
Remember, emotional eating is a perfectly normal response to stress, and you’re definitely not alone. It’s easy to get down on ourselves because we feel we are doing something wrong, but really, you should address this as a positive! You are being mindful about your health – go you! And with little steps, you will be that much closer to a healthier, happier life. Your DIY Cleanse community is here to support you every step of the way.
Ladies, what are your experiences with emotional eating and/or over- eating? Realizations and strategies that worked? We want to hear from you!