Emotional eating is not as bad as it’s made out to be. Food can satisfy emotional hunger. It becomes a problem when food is your only tool for coping. This blog post will give you more tips on how to deal with intense emotions, whether they are food-related or not.
In my post last week on Emotional Hunger vs. Physical Hunger and in the previous post about the Four Types of Hunger in Intuitive Eating, I discussed the idea of emotional hunger, when you’re not physically hungry but crave food to cope with a strong emotion. Food can affect our mood by releasing hormones such as serotonin and dopamine.
Food can trigger happy memories or serve as a diversion from difficult feelings. Food is a great way to satisfy our emotional needs.
emotional eating still gets a bad reputation. When you feel sad, people compare eating a box of cookies to stealing a child’s bicycle or kicking a dog. Food is a source of pleasure for humans, who are emotional creatures. Food and emotion are inextricably linked. Emotionless eating? What a waste of time!
Food is a way to deal with intense emotions. Eating to satisfy emotional cravings is not wrong. We don’t try to stop emotional eating. Instead, we teach our clients how to create a set of tools that will satisfy emotional hunger. This toolbox includes food but also other tools to care for themselves.
Food is a quick fix, but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Create a Self Care Toolbox to have a variety of tools at your disposal. This will allow you to choose what’s most useful and accessible for the moment.
Even if emotional eating is something you believe is flawed, telling yourself that it’s wrong won’t help you stop doing it. This only fuels shame about the behavior and leads to even more emotional eating. Although it may seem counterintuitive, giving yourself permission for emotional eating can help loosen the grip.
How to satisfy emotional hunger, with or without food:
- Try eating something crunchy like nuts or chips (Trader Joe’s dark chocolate almonds with turbinado, sea salt, and).
- You can vent to someone who you trust. It would be best if you talked to someone who is not involved in the situation.
- Punch a punching bag. Throw pillows at the wall. Slam the door. Curse. Allow yourself to express your anger in a healthy way.
- Send an email or a letter to the person who has offended you. It’s probably best not to hit send.
- If you want to be cheered, watch an episode of a funny, warm TV show, such as Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt or Abbott Elementary. When I am feeling down, I enjoy watching shows that have dark humor, themes of loneliness, and connections, such as Only Murders in the Building or Bojack Horseman.
- Sprinkle colorful sprinkles on a large bowl of ice cream.
- Check out pictures of Bernese Mountain Dog pups on Instagram. You can follow my baby angel @TheRoseBern. My friends and family and I all follow @BerneseMountainDogLovers, @BerneseDaily, @WaffleNugget, and @Luna.the.Berner and basically know all the insta-famous Berners by name and talk about their Instagrams like they’re the Kardashians or something. You can undoubtedly follow other breeds of dogs, but, let’s face it, Berners are pure serotonin.
Serotonin is pure.
- Get some sun. Put on your cozy pajamas, get into bed, and cry.
- Schedule an appointment to talk to a therapist or to see your doctor about medication. There is no shame in taking medication.
- Go to a yoga class or do a video at home. I love Body Positive Yoga.
- Take a walk in the fresh air. Take note of the details in the houses, the flowers, and the sky. Be aware of how your feet feel when they hit the ground. Feel the wind on your skin. As much as you can, engage your senses.
While on a mindful walk, I enjoy noticing how the flowers change through the seasons, especially since we now live in Boston, where the flowers are very different from those of South Carolina!
- Exercise deep breathing. Try the free Insight Timer app for guided breathing exercises and meditations.
- Enjoy a bowl full of pistachios with the shells still on. I find that cracking them reduces my anxiety.
- Listen to relaxing music. Pandora has a meditation or yoga playlist.
- Text or call a family member or friend.
- Plan a coffee or wine outing with a colleague or friend.
I missed my friends back home and could text a friend to arrange a meetup when she was in NYC with her family!
- You can read or work in a coffee shop. While you’re at the coffee shop, enjoy a drink or a pastry. Could you strike up a chat with someone nearby? You can also hang out with your dog at a restaurant or brewery with a pet-friendly patio. Since moving to Boston, this is how we met so many friends!
- It would help to read a book with a protagonist you can identify with.
- Volunteer in a group.