The stress and disruption of COVID-19 has many of us reaching for our favorite comfort foods. What better way to ease anxiety than to fill up on rich chocolate, salty snacks, or creamy potatoes? While we all enjoy food as a reward or occasional treat from time to time, it can be problematic if it becomes our only coping mechanism during emotional times. These brief binges are called emotional eating. The National Library of Medicine defines emotional eating (EE) as the tendency to overeat as a coping mechanism for regulating and reducing negative emotions, such as depression, anxiety, and stress.
The age of Coronavirus is a tough one. Not only are we facing uncertainties, we’re also dealing with social isolation and loneliness which can lead to poor mental and physical health. Try these healthy tips to combat loneliness and avoid emotional eating.
- Reconnect with yourself. Instead of managing emotions with food, reflect and work through your emotions.
- Distract yourself. Keep busy with new projects or complete unfinished ones.
- Continue to find ways to connect with others. Write a letter to a friend or loved one. You may find a little joy in penning your emotions and even more joy when you get a letter in return.
- Drink plenty of water. You may be dehydrated. A lack of water consumption is often mistaken for sugar cravings and hunger pains.
- Keep temptations out of the house. Make it easier on yourself by surrounding yourself with nutritious options.
- Get exercise and plenty of sleep. Both are important for managing stress and emotions.
- Be mindful and present in the moment. Before you turn to food, ask yourself a few simple questions. Why are you eating? Am I really hungry? What am I eating? When am I eating? These questions can help you discover patterns and make you aware of unhealthy behaviors.
Now is a great time to explore your relationship with food and begin to identify and overcome emotional eating. Sometimes you can’t do it alone. Find someone who will hold you accountable for your decisions. Registered dietitians and counselors can also help.