Sometimes food is used as a tool for coping and you may not even recognize this is the case. I previously discussed the difference between emotional hunger and true hunger. Emotional hunger is more likely to lead to negatively coping with food. Coping with food can lead to weight gain, poor health, lethargy, low mood, and reduced wellbeing.
Here are some clues you may be using food to cope with emotional distress, from the book 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself without Food…
- Eating puts you into a trancelike state or makes you feel numb.
- Chewing and munching on something make you feel good.
- Grazing (eating when you aren’t hungry, but you can’t stop yourself) numbs you.
- Cravings start up from feeling any emotion, whether positive or negative.
- Searching for something to eat, but not being able to find something satisfying.
- Continuing to eat because you can’t determine or find what is it is that you want to eat.
- Continuing to eat even when it feels like it will never be enough.
- Experiencing a great sense of relief while you are eating.
- Feeling an intense need for something good tasting inside your mouth.
- Experiencing every emotion as hunger (This makes it hard to know what you are really feeling).
- Eating as a way to relax.
- Eating immediately after a stressful event or when you are nervous.
- Making the connection and saying, “I’m only eating this candy bar because I am so stressed-out.”
- Eating foods you don’t even like because they are there and you need comfort.
- Eating to stave off boredom.
- Feeling emotionally empty most of the time despite being well-fed physically.
- Seeking a particular kind of food, like chocolate, because it seems to change your mood.
- Preparing or buying treats so that you’ll have them just in case you’ll “need” them.
- Tending to overeat at important or stressful events like family reunions and business meetings.
- Eating leads to guilt when you do it for soothing rather than to stop physical hunger.
If you are eating to cope with you emotions, consider other ways of dealing with your distress. Check out this list of pleasurable activities for ideas on how to spend your time or distract yourself. Then take some time for self-reflection, and think about what may need to change to actually address these emotions and deal with them versus covering them up through distraction.
Use this emergency self-care plan to help you through the difficult moments. Begin to understand your emotions and triggers for emotional eating, and create a plan to stop this cycle!
Check out 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself without Food for an easy, motivational read!
More ways to self-soothe here.