People react differently to stress: some have a clenched stomach and are unable to swallow a bite, others on the contrary: even when they do not feel physically hungry, they reach for food. It is similar with dealing with anger, sadness, helplessness or … boredom.
So how to help yourself with eating emotions, especially in the era of quarantine, when we are flooded with negative information, and the emotions that accompany us every day are not positive?
First: What is emotional eating?
To figure it out, let’s consider what’s behind the term in general
“Emotional eating.” It is known that the key task of the food we eat is to maintain the biological processes of the body. It’s clear. But food also has a number of other functions, including: social, cultural, and psychological. Well, let’s have a look: we reward the child with sweetness, invite mum to dinner to have a good time or celebrate her birthday. When we remember the years of our youth, often the first association that pops up in our minds is grandma and her delicious dishes. However, the medal has two sides. Each of us knows the moment when we reached for
treats because he was sad, stressed, embittered, lonely. This is emotional eating. Reaching for food to drown out what is on our heart, not to feed our body.
The function of eating is therefore to regulate emotions (“I want to feel better”, “it will improve my mood”, or simply “it will distract me”) and try to deal with it. One of the characteristics of emotional eating is the choice of high-calorie, carbohydrate-rich food. Anyway, you surely know it from the autopsy. Whoever has not reached for their favorite sweets in the face of stress at least once, be the first to throw a stone.
In an age of a pandemic that is accompanied by daily feelings of insecurity and fear, emotional eating can get worse. In addition, eating under stress, sadness, powerlessness or… boredom, we start to gain weight, which also does not promote our well-being and self-esteem. And there are few options to live actively when we have to limit our movements.
Okay, but how do you deal with it?
I have put together some ways for you that may prove to be helpful. It’s best if you introduce them gradually. Be careful and test what works for you. According to Ayurveda, it is important to build habits and make changes one by one. Take advantage of this wisdom.
1. Awareness. Traditional Chinese Medicine focuses on getting ahead
treatment of symptoms, locate their source. What does it mean?
Ask yourself: When do I reach for sweets? What triggers my sadness, irritation, and a sense of helplessness? Overload of information, conversations with relatives and friends who share negative information about the pandemic? Uncertainty about what the next day will bring? Take time to find the answer.
2. Once you figure it out, think about how you can help yourself to minimize that feeling or emotion. For example, I only read the news in the morning from sources I consider valuable, and I don’t watch TV at all. You can decide on one selected news program. Do not participate in the discussion about the coronavirus if you think it only brings fear into your life. Plan your menu for the entire week and do
more shopping, so you don’t have to go to the store every two days.
3. Practical pro-tip: keep food hidden and non-eye-catching, buy snacks in small quantities or choose healthier ones. It is better to reach for nuts, dried fruit, pumpkin or sunflower seeds than other wafers. This is where meal planning comes in again: in the store, only buy what you have on your list.
4. The time when we are forced to stay at home for a long time can be used to reflect on activities that bring us relief and pleasure. Did you like to draw in your childhood? Did you design dresses or sew T-shirts as a teenager? There is a pile of unread books on the shelf, or you have been wanting to catch up on TV series that your friends have told you for months? Or maybe you just lack exercise and dance in the bedroom to your favorite song? (Spoiler: this makes you happier than a bar of chocolate). It is known that not everyone in the age of a pandemic can afford days of lazing around on the couch, but it’s important to find at least half an hour just for yourself, calm your mind and focus on something pleasant.
5. Don’t forget about your body. Ayurveda talks about the integration of mind, soul and body, so pay attention to it as well. Don’t judge it, just look at it as a tool that can have a lot of positive feedback. By thinking of him in this way, you are able to approach him with greater tenderness. The Indian medicine system also talks about the importance of routine and the formation of good habits.
Think about what soothes you about taking care of yourself? What makes you feel well-groomed and cared for? Take time to relax. These can be lazy mornings with a dry self-massage. Practice yoga, take care of your face carefully, make a mask with natural ingredients, take a hot bath. Anything to help you feel better.
6. If you are a highly sensitive person (WWO), take care of your space and the smell in it. Check and test what works for you. Be attentive to the fragrance that brings you relief; where you feel safe. Learn to “cut off” when you feel inspired.
7. Remember that food is not only what you eat. It is also what you watch, what you listen to, in other words, where you direct your attention. Portals that feed on audience fear to get the most views, aggressive TV shows – it’s all mental fast food after which you can get mental hiccups.
8. Try to go to bed before 11 p.m. You can also rub sesame oil into your feet. Avoid browsing your phone before going to bed as this will only wake up your restless mind. Evening is to slow down and get ready for sleep.
PS If you feel that the problem of eating emotions is much deeper and you have a hard time dealing with negative emotions during quarantine, don’t be afraid to ask a specialist for help. Reaching for it is also one of the ways to take care of yourself.