Do you eat to cope with negative emotions? Do you turn to food when you're depressed, anxious, or bored?
The biggest food cravings strike when you're feeling emotionally weak. Whether consciously or unconsciously, when faced with a challenging situation, we often turn to food for comfort. Every now and then, we're all guilty of "eating our feelings." We turn to eat for comfort when our emotions are high. This is so because eating is a behavior that is inherently satisfying. This is called “emotional eating.”
As nutritionist Rohini Bajekal explains, ''Emotional eating is what I see as part of human behavior - we eat in response to our feelings and emotional high and low. For example, birthday cake during celebrations or chocolate during your periods or big packet of chips when you are stressed. It increases the risk of developing binge eating and may impact our health through excess calorie intake and also impact mental health.”
Your main purpose to eat is to reduce or alleviate negative emotions such as stress, anger, anxiety, boredom, sadness, and loneliness. We quickly consume whatever is convenient without enjoyment. In fact, your emotions can become so tied to your eating habits that you automatically reach for a treat whenever you're angry or stressed without thinking about what you're doing.
The effects are temporary, and emotions can come back and may cause you to feel worse. This can also lead to unhealthy cycles and can lead to constant unhappiness.
How to avoid emotional eating?
1. Swap out your unhealthy snacks
If you don't have a giant bag of chips at your fingertips, you can't eat the whole bag. That's good because overeating ultra processed snacks can raise your levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
If stress, anger or sadness trigger your sweet tooth, remember this: The sugar high comes with a low afterwards. This low can lead to increased cravings later.
As an alternative choose something naturally sweet such as fruits or dates or minimally processed sweetened snacks that will help you enjoy your cravings without guilt.
2. Diet & Lifestyle
Ask yourself if you are eating enough/regularly? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you nourishing your soul with being around your loved ones? Are you exercising regularly? All these questions help you check in with yourself and give an opportunity to get out of the habit.
3. Find other ways to feed your feelings
The best distractions from emotional eating are things that take only about five minutes, just long enough to help you switch gears.
Some ideas for switching gears include:
Going for a five minute walk
Talking to yourself compassionately (great inspiration from Shahroo Izadi's books/talks)
Putting on your favorite music and dancing
Calling a close friend to chat
Journaling or meditating
All of these can help you to identify and process your emotions away from food. We at Just Nosh find it is necessary to address this topic as we have been the target of this behavior in one way or another and understand how important it is to have good health. With our snacks we wish to make the decision making process easier for people. We want to enable you to choose what will truly nourish you and your soul.