I recently listened to an interview about emotional eating and this comment was given: “after a stressful day, Iranian food like what I grew up on means more to me than anything else, meeting a need far beyond physical nourishment.”
A perfect example of “eating for comfort” food.
The following list includes some other types of emotional eating.
- Even when not hungry, eating until uncomfortable (stuffed)
- Eating when bored, stressed and anxious.
- For something to do while watching TV.
- Eating food as a reward.
- A way to help deal with feelings and emotions like anger or frustration.
When doing a detox (which often includes food changes from usual choices), or working on establishing and maintaining a healthy diet, there can be definite times when our will power and food decisions are influenced by our emotions. A few helpful suggestions to help you stay on track:
1. Do your best to reframe your thoughts away from what you are not eating to those foods you are eating, knowing they are in alignment with your plan. If you recount for three days straight all the things you are taking OUT of your diet, you will crave them intensely. Keep a list in your mind of all the healing foods you are eating and what is your desired outcome – health and wellness!
2. Do a personal investigation (call it a behavioral experiment!) as to what is REALLY going on. Answer questions like: Right now I want to overeat or binge or eat a box of sugar cookies because________.
3. Step back from the moment of the emotional temptation and think “will I feel less lonely 10 or 15 minutes from now if I eat something rather than have a chat with my best friend?”
Some foods are naturally better than others at helping to balance your moods.
Here are some great go-to foods when you need a pick-me-up:
- B12: shellfish, grass-fed beef, full-fat dairy, eggs.
- Magnesium: leafy greens, soaked nuts and seeds, avocado, dark chocolate
- Conjugated linoleic acid: pastured butter and cream, grass-fed lamb and beef
- Tryptophan: wild game, turkey, duck, asparagus, seaweed
- Lycopene: guava, watermelon, tomato, papaya, cabbage, carrots
Real food, whole food is my mantra for nutrition – part of that includes how it nourishes us emotionally. Try implementing these steps to support that “comfort” part of eating.
- Involve all your senses. Don’t just shovel it in. Present it beautifully on a plate. Enjoy it.
- Try to eat with others. Eating is as much social as it is physiological. Enjoying food in the context of company causes us to enjoy it more, eat slower, and consequently, eat less.
- Sit down. Try following a guideline that you won’t eat standing up – or (if alone) eating over the sink – or walking down the street. If you have a packed lunch or pick up to-go, take it somewhere (a park, a bench, home), sit down and savor it.
- Cultivate gratefulness. This is easier to do when celebrating a promotion or buying a home than if having just lost a job or received bad news. Yet eating with gratefulness causes us to digest our food better, enjoy it more and to be more aware. Ways we can do this by pausing to light candles, say a prayer, slow down.
Final steps to help you manage and overcome emotional eating:
- Breathe and slow down – and repeat…
- Learn to recognize what emotional eating is for you.
- Be mentally prepared for non-food solutions to meet emotional hunger.
Visit a florist (or your garden!) and treat yourself to a favourite flower
Do some yoga stretches or go for a walk
Read your favourite poetry or affirmations
Make a call to your kids or grandkids
- Embrace the discovery how you are emotionally wired
- If you have questions or a curiosity to help you determine if you’re an emotional eater the complete list is available through the contact page in the blog link below.
Bio: Karen Toews is a Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant. In her work as a health and emotional eating coach she helps women discover Vibrant Inspired Living: a healthy heart-based, truthful life that is energized, where dreams & goals can be fulfilled. http://www.realfoodmatters.ca