You have a meeting, a very common emotional eating trigger for people. You are partially prepared but a little nervous about how your new boss might take it. You make your fourth cup of coffee at 10 am and start drinking.
You find someone in the office left chips in the breakroom for everyone to eat. Just a few chips are harmless. You also see some cake. I am tensed, you say.
Let me have a small piece. It will help me calm down. You have given yourself a logical reason for how you have your eating under control.
Or maybe you had a fight with your wife this morning. She just does not get it. Nobody does, you think as you reach for the box of chocolates that you always keep handy in your pantry.
Everywhere there are reasons to get triggered for emotional eating
Or you called your parents to see how they were. Your mom started asking you questions about your child. She did not approve of the way you handled today’s tantrums.
She did not raise you that way. She did it better. You think your glass of wine knows you better than her and approves of you.
Or your “friend” posted pictures on Instagram and Facebook with other “friends” from a party they all had. You were, of course, not invited. This time maybe you just cry.
Call yourself names. Maybe call them some names too. Maybe it is because I am not beautiful, skinny, good enough, blah blah blah.
Things on some levels in life have been an emotional roller coaster lately for you. And you are not prepared to handle it at all. Food is the best comfort provider and you are wanting to feel as comfortable as possible.
For a few days, this is ok. But after a few days, you have made this reaching for food, a coping mechanism for you.
You do not like how everything is going in your life, you do not like how you look in the mirror, you do not even like that you are reaching for food. But you do not know how to get out of this mess.
Are you still with me?
If you are still reading, then you are with me. I know this is going on with you because this went on a while with me as well.
I did not understand that I was using food as a coping mechanism until I ended in the hospital for a gall bladder surgery.
I did not understand I was using food as a coping mechanism until I realized I was 20 lbs heavier than I was after I moved to Atlanta two years ago.
Food Is Our Love Language
A lot of us use food as a coping mechanism when things are difficult. Why? Because we have grown up to know of Food as our Love Language. When we need more love in our life, we reach for food.
When our mom wanted us to feel better, she would make us our favorite foods. It was how we were taught to cope. I am not blaming my mom or our moms at all. I am just pointing out the conditioning in the society and belief system that has been created around food.
Comfort foods are called comfort foods for a reason. They are believed to provide comfort in the winter or in summer or when you find yourself lonely.
When we meet people, we meet for lunches or dinner or drinks. It is the tables that we gather around, eat, sit and chit chat. It feels great to have family and friends sharing bread and wine and talking and laughing together.
When this love feels absent, we tend to eat by ourselves and reminisce. It is our habitual tendency.
The way to change this cycle is to first become aware of what triggers our uncontrollable eating.
Here are 7 Common Emotional Eating Triggers That Make You Reach For That Cookie
- Uncomfortable weather – If it is too cold, too rainy, too sunny, you might tend to make foods in order to adjust to the temperature outside. You might not be able to get outside much in these extreme weathers and probably get bored at home.
- Uncomfortable conversations or situation – If you are having to confront, or open up to someone and you are not comfortable having these kinds of conversations, it is possible that you might be looking to comfort yourself with food
- Miss someone or something – If you tend to feel nostalgic, you want to create a similar experience you had with this faraway someone or faraway place. You might use food as the connection with this and eat as a way of coping with nostalgia.
- Bored – You are bored. You have nothing to do so you feel like you might as well eat.
- You feel tired, stressed, overworked and fatigued – You eat because you think it will give you more energy in times of stress and fatigue.
- Watching something – Watching and eating seem like something you can do together. This a lot of times, involves mindless eating. You just pick up popcorn and eat because you associate watching with food. You were watching so you did not pay any attention to how your body was feeling. You decided to keep on eating until the movie or game ended. Same goes with binge drinking while watching. It involves a state of being unaware of what we are really doing and just letting go.
- Cravings – Your body or mind is craving a certain type of food and you want it now. Your tongue loves it and you keep on eating without thinking about how your stomach might feel later on.
What To Do Instead of Emotional Eating?
- Becoming aware of your habit to reach for food is really the first step that you can take in order to make a change. Note down every few hours, how you felt before, what you ate and how you felt after.
- Once you are aware of your habit, now make note of what you would like to do instead. Maybe journaling might be your thing. Maybe talking it out with a friend or coach might help for some others. Whatever it is start small. Start with substituting food with one of your new chosen actions and see how you felt after. Notice if you still felt like you wanted to reach for food.
- Celebrate (not by eating candy!) but maybe by clapping your hands or patting your own back every time you use a healthy coping mechanism.
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