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Emotional Eating

Updated: Dec 29, 2022

The year 2020 has been a challenging year so far. Some of you may have noticed that you’re eating changed over the past several months. Maybe you are grazing more throughout the day, overeating at meals or craving specific foods. You could be eating due to the emotions you are feeling.

When we pay close attention we can tell that emotional hunger feels different from physical hunger: It often comes on suddenly and you typically do not feel growling in your stomach. Eating in response to it most likely will not satisfy us for a long time and we may feel hungry again shortly after eating.

There are some things you could try to be more mindful of emotional eating. Keeping track of when, what and why we are eating can help us be more aware of our eating. You can keep track through an app or simply write it down in a notebook or planner. Checking in with yourself before eating can help you figure out if you are physically hungry or maybe eating due to emotions. Some questions I like to ask myself before eating are: Is my stomach growling? When was the last time I ate something? What kind of food do I want to eat? Am I feeling stressed, anxious, happy, bored, or any other emotion right now?

If you realize you are feeling emotions that are leading you to wanting to eat, you can try other activities to cope with the emotion you are feeling. Some examples are going on a walk, exercising, coloring, reading, journaling, dancing, knitting, doing a crossword puzzle, or calling a friend/family member.

If you decide you need a snack, make sure you have plenty of healthy snack options on hand to choose from, such as fruit, veggies, yogurt, nuts, or string cheese. Another thing to be aware of is that our bodies often mistaken thirst for hunger, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

Making changes to emotional eating will not happen overnight. We experience feelings and emotions for a reason and it is important to acknowledge them, even if they are not always pleasant. So remember to be kind to yourself to matter what.

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