By: Pearl Maalouf BS, FMSC, CPT, CF-L1
In our gym we see people from all walks of life that somehow end up at our door. They all have unique stories and different life experiences but quite a few of them struggle with one main problem: emotional eating. Whatever their reason whether it be past issues or current situation, they don’t have a healthy relationship with food. Emotional eating is turning to food for comfort when you’re angry, stressed, depressed, sad, lonely, or anxious. Although it sounds innocent enough since we all do it to a certain extent, the problem arises when it becomes a vicious cycle: feeling bad about myself, which leads to emotional eating, which leads to me feeling worse about myself, and repeat. This kind of destructive behavior can really get out of hand quickly if you don’t look at the root of what’s causing the emotional eating: the emotions.
You just had one of those days where it seems like everything is going wrong. You got sauce on your shirt right before a big meeting, your kids got sick, your car got a flat tire and it just seems to keep going. You can look at these situations and feel like you’re life is out of control. So you turn to food, because it’s the one thing you can count on right?! But when you rely on external factors like food, alcohol, or shopping to make yourself “feel better” you’re making a negative situation even worse with a negative reaction. If you can turn the situation around by responding positively you’ll find that you’re even more satisfied by the outcome rather than if you were to indulge in food/alcohol. A healthy alternative can be anything that positively improves your health and hopefully gives you some time to reflect on what happened that day to make you stressed.
For example when you think you’re going to start turning to food-try a soothing yoga class to reflect and meditate. If yoga isn’t your style then boxing may be a fun option! It’s also been shown that going out in nature for a long walk will also give you time to calm down and the fresh air will do wonders to reduce stress. After you’ve done all this if you still feel the need to indulge then see if you can find a healthier alternative to the food that you’re craving. For example if you’re craving sugar drink some water! You may be craving sugar because you’re dehydrated. Keep your blood sugar stable by eating small, healthy, meals throughout the day to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.
As you slowly make these adjustments you will be able to change your mindset towards food and start seeing food as nourishment for your body instead of an emotional crutch.