For years, I had used food to comfort myself when stressed. But after fighting weight gain and wanting to be a stronger role model to my clients, I have finally found ways to keep food out of the equation for me in the area of stress management. Eating for emotional reasons happens to over 75% of us with variations of what is an occasional occurrence to something that is more often and serious. Some other emotions that may be used as an occassion to overeat include boredom, stress, happiness, depression and tiredness (more of a condition than an emotion). Here are some tips that may help:
1. Exercise: Do a lot, do it often and really work it. I think this has been a big factor for me. The more stressed that I am, the harder I ride that bicycle. Luckily, I have a very active dog who loves to walk also.
2. Do something postitive that you love. Whether it be gardening, painting, playing music, reading or whatever else brings you joy.
3. Find Social Support: Call a friend to help encourage you. This has been a life saver recently for me. My friends have been so caring and understanding. Join a support group if needed.
4. Seek Professional Help, if Necessary: Some things are beyond your friends or your area of expertise. You also don’t want to wear out your friends, even though they love you-they are not your therapist.
5. Learn to Feel What is Bothering You: Without using food as a pacifier or using it or other things to hide what is really going on, you can feel the emotions, identify the issue and begin working on improving the situation. You may have to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Keeping a food journal can also help you identify if you are eating for emotional reasons. Once you find out what the emotion is, address it. Relax and de-stress. Get some rest. Do other things when you are happy, depressed or bored besides eating.
6. Treat Yourself to Something Special: Make it non-food related. Examples may be getting a massage, facial, new outfit or pair of earrings. Bargain treats include: going to a movie, buying a used book or taking a hot bubble bath. No body will take care of yourself like you, so get started.
These are tools you can use if you think that you are one of us who eat for emotional reasons. Of course, a registered dietitian can be an ally helping you work through this journey also.