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Emotional Eating During Tough Times

When we are under stress at work, home, etc. we may turn to food or alcohol to ease the worry. Right now, our entire country and the world is under tremendous stress and uncertainty. To the extent that most of us have never experienced before.

It's enough to make you want to hide in a closet with a package or Oreos and a bottle of wine. I'm not even joking.

Emotional eating is a real "thing" for a lot of us. It only makes sense, because since the day we were born, we’ve used food for more than just our physical nourishment. Food is an important part of our holidays and celebrations. It can help define our family heritage. And it obviously comforts and nurtures us. So, it makes sense that we use it to soothe our emotions when we’re feeling down. (Or even "up."). This month I've been talking about intuitive eating and with all the world's events, this message is important.

Being aware of emotional eating is a big part of intuitive eating. When you observe your patterns and habits, you can be more intentional in your choices instead of falling back into bad habits and old patterns. You can actually have control over what you eat, vs. it controlling you. Why do we eat when we feel down? This is a complicated topic, but negative feelings can leave you feeling empty or disconnected – as if there’s a big hole or void. It’s uncomfortable. Many times, we eat to try to fill it. Here are some hallmarks of emotional hunger:

1. The hunger comes on quickly.

2. You are only craving certain kinds of foods.

3. You don’t feel full, even if you’ve eaten a lot.

4. You feel guilty or have regret later.

Over time, emotional eating can turn into a pattern or habit, so you don’t even know you’re doing it. In the coming days there are going to be times of stress, frustration and fear and many of us will want to turn to food or alcohol to soothe these emotions. Here are a few tips for managing through it. 1. When you feel like eating, ask yourself WHY. Are you truly hungry, or are you feeling stressed, bored, sad, lonely, or angry? 2. If you’re not physically hungry, shift your mindset. Take a break and do something different: go for a walk, journal, take a bath, reach out to a friend or supportive family member (maybe even make a phone call!), or do something creative. 3. Be gentle with yourself – congratulate yourself on noticing your patterns! Remember – this is not about "bad" or "good." It’s about embracing health and listening to your body’s true needs If you struggle with emotional eating let’s chat. I can help you get to the root of the issue, make recommendations for additional support and help you start to make a shift in how and when you eat.

You are never alone. Reach out.

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