5 Strategies for Controlling Emotional Eating During a Crisis
If your worry over the current coronavirus pandemic is triggering stress eating, then using these five tips might help you get it under control:
Develop Emotional Awareness
Develop a deeper awareness of your emotions and let yourself feel them when not in the presence of food. Use some time each day to reflect on your feelings to work out if they are fueling your unhealthy eating habits.
You can ask yourself questions like:
- How am I feeling?
- When do I most feel stressed?
- What is my biggest worry today?
- How are my feelings affecting my life experience right now?
Know Your Triggers
Understanding what triggers your emotional eating habits will help you know when you will be likely to eat more or eat less. Everybody has different triggers. In the current coronavirus pandemic, many parents are going to be understandably stressed about being thrust into home-schooling and worried about tantrum-throwing children.
Others may be worried about their sudden lack of privacy as families are told to stay inside for anything but essentials. And some people will feel anxious over the state of the world and feed their anxiety by continually checking the news feeds.
Some triggers are internal and stem from worrying about how hard it will be to remain productive while working from home, arguing with partners, or having concerns about their new financial situation.
During these trying times, keep asking yourself questions like:
- When am I most likely to eat from stressing out?
- What circumstances make it hardest for me to control my eating?
- What kinds of food do I crave, and when?
Be Mindful of Your Eating
Always be conscious of your eating, while avoiding as many trigger situations as you can. Plan your meals and what you are going to eat and set a regular time. Keep challenging yourself when coping with negative emotions that arise while you are away from food.
The questions you should be asking yourself include:
- Will this food make me feel better?
- Will I regret eating this?
- What can I change about my life today that will help me stop experiencing negative emotions?
Seek Social Support
Social support, while actively avoiding trigger situations, can help a great deal with emotional eating. Many of us have been torn from our usual routines, social networks, communities, and work environments and are feeling a little overwhelmed. Humans are wired for social interaction, and when we can’t get it, we can start feeling stressed. Staying in touch through other means will help ease some of the pressure, even if it’s via voice chat or video conferencing.
Keeping in touch with the wider community is a little trickier, as it’s easy to become obsessed with the news during a lengthy crisis like a pandemic. Limit your exposure by only checking once or twice a day, and only use reliable channels.
Keep asking questions like:
- Who should I call today who can help me stay emotionally grounded?
- Is there someone more vulnerable I can help?
- What can I do to stay connected with my community even though personal contact is off-limits?
Take Each Moment as It Comes
Every day when you wake, tell yourself you are starting fresh. Yesterday is over, and any mistakes you made are in the past. Today is a good day to get yourself back on track and re-establish your deliberate eating behavior.
Berating yourself for yesterday’s mistakes isn’t going to help you today but encouraging yourself to do better will.
Don’t Forget There is Professional Support if You Need It
Some people may need more help than an article of tips can provide. If you feel that you need some outside support to bring your emotional eating under control, then be sure to reach out. Social distancing may be the new normal, but help is still available over the phone, or through video conferencing.
Getting the help you need can make all the difference when you are trying to avoid weight gain or develop some emotional stability in today’s challenging times. Click here to learn more about treatment for habits and addictions.