April 16, 2020
Stress eating. It’s a thing. And that was before the global pandemic.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to be mindful of our eating habits. We aren’t trying to take away from your moments of celebration (champagne, anyone?) or say you can’t have your favorite food. No way. What we specifically are taking about is emotional eating.
Stress eating is when we turn to food for comfort. When we have a problem, are experiencing anxiety, or are running out of content for Instagram (kidding), we look to food to solve the problem. The only problem is that food is not the solution. We acknowledge it feels good to eat and it does offer a temporary escape from whatever is ailing us. Unfortunately, after the moment of pleasure is gone, you often have feelings of guilt and hate yourself even more. You then eat a little more because you then think, “screw it”. This viscous cycle perpetuates the over eating behavior.
So, what do we do? Not just for now, but when the world goes back to normal and we don’t wear face masks to Costco. We have two strategies for you to test…
You read it right. Go ahead and overeat. You have our permission. Here’s the catch – we want you to take mental notes. Stress eating usually comes after some type of trigger: certain sights, smells, people, and memories. We want you to discover what is triggering this kind of behavior. We bet you will have an “ah-ha” moment. Maybe every Monday you eat an entire box of donuts by yourself. Coincidentally, every Monday you see the in-law who doesn’t think you are as amazing as your husband does. It all makes sense now. The mystery has been solved. Allow yourself to overeat with mindfulness and discover your triggers. Once you discover the trigger(s) move on to step two.
Pick a thing before a thing. That might sound odd, but do just that: Pick an action that you’ll always do before you engage in stress eating. We want to disrupt your natural behavior cycle by encouraging positive behavior first. The positive behaviors you choose that precede the emotional eating should align with whatever your goals are. For example, if your goal is to become healthier and lose weight, you should make a list like the following:
Note: never reverse the order. We don’t want you to think of the positive behaviors as punishment! Going on a walk should be enjoyable, not penance.
Once you create your individual and thoughtful list, put it somewhere you can visibly see. Tape it on the fridge next to the original artwork your children created for you. The list you took all that time to make provides little value if you can’t see it. Make it obvious. This will help keep you accountable.
After discovering your triggers and creating your personal list, you need to remember this one thing – be nice to yourself. You are going to mess up. These strategies are not light switches that work immediately upon implementation. Just like it took you a while to create these habits, it will take a little time to undo them. Focus on the small victories and really celebrate when you do it right. Give yourself mental high-fives and hugs along the way.
We hope this helps even one person who is looking to make a change. It might just be the perfect strategy for you.