Do you identify as an emotional eater? What you might need is a little self-care!
I want to give you an opportunity to learn one of my favourite tools for coping with emotional eating. When you know how to build a self-care toolbox for emotional eating, you can cope with any emotions–with or without food.
Our brain is hardwired to feel positive emotion from doing things we need to do to survive–bonding with others, relationships, friendships, hydrating, sleeping, moving our bodies, and yes, eating.
Emotional eating in of itself isn’t bad. The problem comes if eating is your only form of self care or way of dealing with negative emotions.
Because while food can provide some comfort, it doesn’t exactly deal with the actual problems in life that might be leading to uncomfortable emotions. While eating to cope with emotions is perfectly acceptable, excessive emotional eating may be a sign that you’re in need of some self-care and other coping tools.
Different tools may be helpful for different situations. And different tools may be more or less accessible to us in different situations. That’s why we want to have different options handy!
One thing I work on with my clients is teaching them how to build a self-care toolbox. When you’re feeling an uncomfortable, stressful or joyous emotion, before reaching for food, take a look at this list and try to do what feels best for you at the moment.
Here are some examples of what to put in your self-care toolbox, plus some examples of what I’ve put in mine:
Happy foods – croissants from a local bakery, ice cream with chunky things in it, pinot noir. Discernment is key. Begin to move to a place where you are having quality over quantity and savour those foods and moments that bring you joy. And for the other moments that are not as important, let’s make better choices.
Connection tools – doing something new in Dublin (exploring, treating, rewarding), chatting with my best friend, going out with friends. Let’s create a list of new ways we can connect, be social and spend time with people that are not centred around food.
Calming tools – sitting in the backyard on a sunny day, walking the dogs by myself, restorative yoga/laying in a child’s post for a few minutes, breath work, nature, a guided meditation, chill music, a massage.
Laughter tools – watching episodes of indulgent, escapist TV, playing with the dog, listening to funny podcasts, laughing until you cry with friends, watching funny stupid videos on TikTok.
Energising tools – Walking in nature, sea swim, blustery walk on the cliff, going for a run until you feel like stopping, getting fancy coffee, listening to a relaxing, pumping or girl power spotify mix (it’s all Lady Gaga, En Vogue, Beyonce, Kesha and Missy Elliot for me)
Ways to release energy/anger – listening to angsty music and crying, throwing (soft) things at the wall, talking/yelling/crying to someone close, turning the music up really loud and shouting out all the emotions and thoughts that are bothering you.
Self-care is one of the most important practices you will ever learn in life. If you’re happy, taken good care of, relaxed, empowered and in tune with yourself and your yearnings, you’ll be able to live life to the fullest.