Hello everyone and happy almost end of January! It snowed recently, so it has been nice and cozy here. My week has pretty much been like last week, and I am looking forward to February where I have decided I will NOT work more weekends (or hours) than I have to. Self-care is important!
This week I wanted to talk about emotional eating. This is something that people often tell me is one of their main problems. I always remind them, hey – feelings are normal. Good thing we have those, or we would really be boring people. Also, just because you feel things and then eat sometimes, doesn’t make you a bad person, or mean that something is wrong with you. It just means you feel things. Which is a pretty good trait in my mind.
Do you ever tell yourself you are an emotional eater?
Food is naturally something that causes emotions, so it is difficult to untie those emotions to something else everyday, our food choices. Think about it – baking cookies may make you feel warm and soothed, you may connect going to your favorite restaurant as a reward for winning a sporting event, you may try to distract yourself with chips, you may share a gooey dessert with a loved one, or eat an entire pint of ice cream if you feel sad. So it totally normal that you may use food as a way to cope, or connect, with emotions at some point.
First, of all, I want to reiterate how important self-care is. What can you do to prioritize yourself? Here are some suggestions.
- make sure you get enough sleep! Shoot for 7-10 hours
- try and get some movement in throughout the day – go for walk, yoga, take a spin class, whatever feels good for you
- eat enough throughout the day
- drink fluids throughout the day – water, coffee, whatever!
- spend time with friends and family
- challenge yourself intellectually
- start a self-care practice, ASAP!
Next, I just want to say, emotional eating is OK! I would rather you down a tub of ice cream if you’re upset than say, a bottle of vodka. It is only when emotional eating is your only way of coping with your emotions, that it can become problematic. So what can you do?
1. Ask, “am I actually hungry right now?”
A lot of time the answer is actually yes to this question. And we know if you are hungry, you should eat!!
2. Ask, “what am I feeling right now?”
First of all, it is OK to feel things! I think in this time period (maybe all?), it isn’t super cool to talk about your feelings, or even acknowledge them. Since food is so distinctly wrapped around emotions, it is essential that you find a safe space to share how you feel. Maybe talk to a significant other, write in a journal, talk out loud to your dog, or to a close friend. If you want, therapy can also help and is a perfectly normal thing to do.
3. Ask, “what do I really need right now?”
Really take some time to think about this. Maybe you need to take a bath. Maybe you need to go for a walk with your dog. Maybe you need to wrap yourself in a blanket, drink some hot tea, and read a book. Maybe today you do actually need to bake cookies and eat a couple. What would make you feel good?
4. Ask for help.
Ask your significant other for 30 minutes to be able to go for a walk by yourself. Reach out to a friend to go on a yoga date with you. Call your sister and chat about what is going on in each others lives. It is OK to ask others for help. Should I repeat that? It is OK to ask others for help. I think there is a such a stigma about expressing your feelings, and asking for help but there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone will need help at some point in their lives, weather we want to admit it or not, and most humans will understand that.
Thinking deeply about these questions and how you are actually feeling can be extremely helpful. It can also be pretty uncomfortable. So, I challenge you to sit with that discomfort; try and learn from it.
Also, emotions and food will never completely be detached, nor should they be. That is OK too. What I am asking is for you to recognize what feelings you may be experiencing, ask yourself what you really need, and then honor that.
Again, I recognize that life is not about getting everything perfectly all the time. And this means that sometimes you will use food as a comfort blanket or for an emotional reason. But. everything we do can be a learning experience, if we let it. I encourage you to be a casual observer of those moments. What can you learn from this?
As always, give yourself some compassion. Remember no one is as hard on you as yourself. It is OK to ask for help. And no one is perfect.
Have a wonderful week!