April is Emotional Overeating Awareness Month. Overeating is a problem not because it might lead to weight gain and cost you "the perfect body". It is a problem because it masks the signals your body sends to your brain, which means that your eating will be controlled by your emotional impulses, and you will not eat according to your body’s needs. You may inhale a lot of calories, but you are not getting enough nutrients! This tendency may get even worse now that we are all working from home, spending most of our days inside.
Emotional overeating has its roots in infancy. When you were a baby, did your mother give you food every time you cried? If this is the case, her actions taught your little brain that food is the solution to every problem, even if the problem has nothing to do with hunger. It can be difficult to figure out why a baby is crying, but you are an adult now! If you habitually turn to food when you are stressed, read on for my tips on how to find healthier ways to cope.
If you catch yourself wanting to reach for the cookie jar, challenge yourself to wait just five minutes before you give in. Use this time to check in with yourself and connect to your emotions. Are you stressed? Bored? Anxious? What can you do to deal with these feelings in a healthier way? Many people find that journaling about their emotions or taking a short walk helps them get back on track.
Savor your food
When you are stress eating, you are not really enjoying the flavors and textures of the food. Mindful eating is a practice that is worth incorporating into every mealtime! Slow down, remove distractions (such as eating in front of the TV), and focus on the sensory experience of eating. You may find yourself wanting to cook more and try new things!
Choose healthy alternatives
If you find yourself craving something salty, sweet or fried, that is a good sign that your hunger is caused by stress. This is because stress causes an increased production of cortisol, a hormone that is responsible for such cravings. But we can overcome these cravings by choosing healthy alternatives such as fresh vegetables or nuts. Mind you, these choices have to be made at the grocery store, not your pantry! If the junk food makes it into your home, chances are you are going to eat it at some point. Make sure you always have healthy snacks at home that have lots of fibers and less sugar and fat.
Reach out for support
Especially in these times, it is easy to feel isolated and like food is our only friend. But you are not alone! You can reach out to friends and family online, and there are plenty of support groups that can help you when you have a difficult day. My group is wide open for women who want to learn to listen to their own body’s innate wisdom. See you on the inside!
o beat stress eating for good