Emotional Eating: How to Develop a Healthier Mentality Towards Food
Contributed from Olivia Powell
Eating is such a normal part of our daily lives that sometimes we aren't mindful of how and when we eat. While this is fine for most people, it can lead to health risks and side effects in the long term for those who unknowingly — or knowingly — engage in unhealthy eating habits. One such example comes in the form of emotional or stress eating. Studies have shown that stressed people tend to eat more food that is high in sugar and fat. Although a little snacking isn't harmful, stress eating can lead to issues such as irregular weight gain and even obesity in the long run. The long term dangers of this is that when we are not able to cope with our emotions in a healthy way, relying on food can be harmful in the long term.
“Whatever the situation, the answer is not in the fridge.” ― Karen Gibbs, A Gallery of Scrapbook Creations
Many aspects of our lives can contribute to stress and emotional eating — academic stress, work, and even feelings of boredom. While these may come in varying intensities and frequency for different people, eliminating or reducing triggers can help us prevent "eating our feelings," so to speak. In this article, we're going to look at some of the ways we can develop a healthier mentality towards food to improve our nutritional habits:
Try to manage stress better on a daily basis
Experiencing stress may seem like an inevitable ordeal. After all, so many activities in our daily life can result in frustration and anxiety — such as work or chores at home. Constantly feeling this stress can lead people to stress eat as a means to cope or distract themselves. Even though people handle challenges differently, we've previously written about some powerful tips to help manage everyday stress, which are doable for everyone.
From EFT tapping, which can eliminate cravings and calm down frazzled nerves, simple breathing exercises to meditation and yoga, there are many stress-busting techniques you can try instead of relying on a sugar boost or snacking to feel better. Spoiling yourself can occasionally be a good form of stress relief, but always be wary of doing it in moderation and in ways that won't harm your body down the line. The point isn’t to deny yourself any treats at all as we all deserve to enjoy food as well. We don’t need to see certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ only that some of them are to be enjoyed in moderation instead of automatic responses to negative situations or stress as a means to comfort ourselves.
Consider a holistic approach to eating
Aside from stress, other habits we indulge in may result in unhealthy consumption. This includes staying up late at night scrolling, binging on Netflix, ignoring healthy eating and exercise as part of our daily lives. When we don't pay attention to our body's health as much as we should, it can be easy to overlook destructive habits such as stress and emotional eating.
Truth is, there are so many mixed messages these days about what to eat, how to eat, what cleanse you should be doing, what new trendy way to manage your health and weight better. Or certain eating habits are supposed to be so extreme there is no enjoyment about it and it causes resentment and ultimately sabotaging patterns as no one wants to deny themselves things they love to eat.
These days, it can be confusing and only make the problem worse for a lot of people. Sometimes it’s a matter of learning about food and nutrition to be able to make healthier choices. As such, personalized health plans don’t just focus solely on food or weight loss anymore because there are other important components. Even when you're specifically aiming for weight loss or increased physical fitness, it's crucial to maintain a healthy amount of quality sleep and balance healthier eating with more exercise. In addition, it’s important to consider mindfulness and emotional health in general as the way that we deal with our emotions directly affects our lifestyle since many people resort to unhealthy habits like partying, emotional eating, and indulging in certain activities for escape. When it comes to eating, we can shift the focus in our health journey away from just food, we can avoid the need to eat out of stress.
Try activities and hobbies to eliminate boredom
Boredom happens to the best of us, even when we think we're doing purposeful, meaningful work or that we're at the top of our productivity streak. While lack of activity can lead to surprising moments of inspiration or an opportunity to pursue new interests, boredom for many people can also lead to stress eating or just wasted time (social media, video games, Netflix binging, anyone?). Studies show that feelings of boredom are often tied to unhealthy snacking habits. When there's not much to do at home or outside, it can be easy to snack to distract yourself or give yourself something to do. Redirecting that energy towards other hobbies or chores can help reduce stress and emotional eating. It's also important to reframe your daily activities as something you're actively doing instead to improve your life bit by bit to create a sense of purpose and meaning.
Food is a vital component of life, yet unhealthy habits can easily lead to short- and long-term health conditions. This is why it is important that we develop a healthier mentality towards food, especially in these trying times. What do you do to avoid emotional eating by taking part in other activities? How do you handle it especially over the holidays?
About Olivia Howell:
Olivia Howell is a 26-year-old freelancer. A sports person who enjoys triathlon and mountain climbing. She is passionate in everything she does and a problem solver.
ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).
If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.
Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.
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