It is very common to eat our emotions. The majority of the women I work with stress eat (I've been there, too!) yet it's not something we talk about.
It is sometimes done in secret- after the kids go to bed and the kitchen is empty.
Or it's done with friends or a spouse- giant bowls of popcorn when you aren't really hungry, handful after handful of chips, cookies and second or third servings of ice cream.
Stress eating is damaging to our emotional health as well as our physical health- it is only a temporary "numbing" of whatever else we really should be addressing.
Burying it under the rug while we eat away our feeings (consciously or unconsciously) doesn't make it go away. We know this.
The first step to dealing with stress or emotional eating is to give those emotions another place to go RATHER than into our eating habits. If we don't deal with them in healthy ways, they will continue to show up and sabotage our healthy living journey.
Two of my favorite stress banishing tips are the 4-7-8 breathing technique and early morning pages. Start with these.
Dr. Andrew Weill made this technique popular and uses it to decrease inflammation and restore health in his holistic practice. Begin by inhaling for four counts, hold the breath for 7 counts, and exhale for 8 counts. (Counts do not have to be full seconds!)
Be sure to engage your belly with deep belly breaths- you should feel your belly puff out when you inhale and release as you exhale.
Repeat the 4-7-8 deep breath 4 x, and use this technique once or twice a day to start. It signals your body to halt the "flight or fight" response and relaxes your parasympathetic system, so you stop producing so much cortisol (the belly fat hormone) and you begin to calm down.
It also helps to reduce cravings in the moment and gives you a chance to "hit pause" before diving into a plate of food you really don't want.
Early morning pages
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way, asked writers to begin each day with stream-of-consciousness writing for 30 minutes. In the process, she was suprised to find that many of these women were reporting weight loss in the weeks and months that followed.
Why? Because the emotions, thoughts, and feelings that had been going unnoticed, ignored or showing up in their eating habits now had a healthy expression out on paper.
It brought their awareness to the worries, concerns and stress in their day so they could release it and take action steps as needed.
Journaling is helpful anytime of day- it does not need to be early morning for 30 minutes. Simply 5 minutes at any point when you have a quiet moment can be powerful.
How do you handle stress so that it doesn't take a grip on you?
Do you struggle with emotional eating?