Hi everyone. I’m Jenn…and I’m an emotional eater. Have you ever said that to someone? Maybe you’ve said it to yourself in the mirror. Even if you haven’t, you probably have eaten something when you’re stressed. Even if you’ve done it once, you have eaten when you’re emotional.
What is an emotional eater?
You are an emotional eater if you have the propensity to eat in response to positive or negative emotions. Let me give you a few examples.
You’ve just graduated from college. What’s the thing most people do right after? Chances are, you go out to eat and celebrate. You’re with family and friends, you go to a place with amazing food and drinks and you indulge a little bit. You have positive emotions about graduating and the eating and drinking you do is to celebrate a huge milestone.
Here’s another. Your best friend just got an unexpected promotion and you want to congratulate her. You make a plan to take her out for drinks after work one night. You have a drink (or two) and might even order an appetizer or a dessert. Again, you both have positive emotions over the promotion and the drinking you do is to celebrate.
What about the other side? Ever had a bad day at work and just want to come home and have a glass of wine? On a day like that, you’re stressed and feeling anxiety and just want to let some of those negative emotions go. The easy way to do it is to use food or beverages to numb out with that glass of wine.
Let’s talk family for a second. I can recall several Thanksgiving dinners when a member of my family would say something that set me off or just got under my skin. That action would send me down a rabbit hole and experience a TON of negative emotions. I would then end up eating way more than I want to and end up feeling awful.
There are so many other scenarios where this could happen too. Coming home to a messy house, dealing with a pandemic or even certain topics of conversation, like politics. Eating when we experience emotions that are too much for us to handle is essentially a coping mechanism. It’s our way to deal when we can’t deal or don’t want to deal. Having emotions are normal. If you didn’t have emotions, we would all be the same. Imagine a world full of robots? I definitely don’t want that and I bet you don’t either. Emotions are meant to help us understand the world around us and give us triggers on how to react in conversations. The emotions that you experience vary from anger to sadness to joy and even boredom.
Yes, I want you to consider boredom as an emotion!
Have you ever eaten something just because you’re bored? When you’re eating television, when you’re working mindlessly on the computer or even when you’re just sitting around with friends. There are many, many times when we eat when we’re bored and these are not necessarily stressful situations. You’re not necessarily experiencing positive or negative emotions in these situations. You’re just bored. And when you’re bored, it’s like your brain stops working and can’t decide what it actually needs. But there is a way to handle your bouts of emotional eating.
Eat better and have better options.
Yes, you can still eat when you’re experiencing emotions. If you have better options on hand, though, you won’t eat as much and you’ll be eating more mindfully. Here are 10 snack ideas for those times when you’re feeling stressed.
Celery and almond butter or peanut butter and raisins give you energy, filling fiber, good fat and protein. It’s a great snack for both kids and adults!
Chopped dates, nut butter and rolled oats is all you need. If you want, add protein powder, chocolate chips or even shredded coconut.
Herbal tea can ease anxiety but also contains amino acids, L-theanine that helps provide a calming, tranquil state.
Another childhood treat, but oh so good. Peanut butter and banana on toast is a go-to because it’s comforting. Add honey for some extra sweetness.
Bold flavor but totally curbs the cravings. The ones from Trader Joe’s are my favorites! Just a few a day reduce the stress hormones.
Veggies have good-for-you fiber and fill you up. Add guac or hummus and you’ll get healthy fat that helps you feel fuller, longer.
If you can have it, dairy packs calcium and protein in one punch. They help release some of those feel-good chemicals. If you can’t, try dairy alternatives.
Dehydration happens and it happens often. When it happens, we’re usually hungry. By adding fruit, you make things interesting and you’re more apt to drink
Trail mix is a great snack and when it includes walnuts, it’s even better since they respond better to stress. Add dried fruit or chocolate for extras.
A guiltless snack with a little bit of salt and lots of crunch. Add whatever seasonings suit your taste buds and bake at 400* F for 30mins.
Which of these snacks are you craving right now? If the answer is none of them, you might want to consider finding another option to stop your emotional eating. Hobbies like yoga, running, going for a walk or a hike or dancing are ways to move your body, break a sweat and deal with that stress you’re feeling. You can always talk to a friend, read a good book, meditate or listen to music while you clean the house. Any healthy activity will help. But if food is still your go-to, make sure to have healthy snacks like the ones above ready for the taking.