New York, NY – One thing’s for sure, they don’t call them the Pandemic Pounds for nothing. In fact, aside from other stress related disorders, emotional eating is common amongst many. This eating differs in a sense that rather than eating to feed our personal reward system, emotional eating is a coping mechanism to solve a personal and emotional dilemma. Therefore, add the common stress of life. Add boredom and loneliness. Add depression and anxiety. Now add uncertain futures and add the financial concerns we face as a nation. Add the year-long path we’ve faced from the pandemic and we find ourselves with another rising concern in the post-Covid era.
Emotional eating affects our mood and often leads to feelings of guilt and lowers our self-esteem. As a result, this leads to more of the same in which case, emotional eating is sought to satiate the emotional discomforts and results in a cycle of behavior. This means food is used as a distraction to avoid the stress of emotional concerns. Of course, this results in weight gain and weight gain related problems. This affects both the mind and the body.
The question is how do we recognize emotional eating?
Emotional eating happens when we are not actually hungry. Yet, we find ourselves searching for food to cure a sense of boredom. Although the temporary fix is readily available, emotional eating does not help the underlying stressor itself. Instead, food only placates the problems on a short term basis and leads to the after effects of bloatedness or the narcotized state of a food coma.
With the need for health conscious choices on the rise and with hopes to return to normalcy, it is important to shed light on these common challenges that so many face. And rest assured, there are many out there that can relate to the Pandemic Pounds.
There is hope, however, which means there are available steps towards making healthier choices.
One useful tip is to practice mindfulness. Understanding triggers and avoiding temptations is a powerful step in the right direction. It is important to focus on nutrition and find routines that lead towards personal rewards. Create realistic plans and set practical goals which can be reached within a reasonable time frame. And remember, this is a long term commitment, which means our focus is on our efforts to improve. Get support when needed. Learn to find new ways to handle stressors. Exercise. Plan your meals. If you find yourself unnecessarily reaching for food, check your emotional balance and do an honest reality check.
Understand that emotional eating is cyclical. Although intellectually, one understands the effects of overeating, emotionally, the distraction of food allows for a short term solution. Nevertheless, the same can be said for healthier choices. Once the rewards from our healthy choices come to light, the value behind our effort becomes cyclical, too. This all begins with the decision to improve, which can start right now . . . if we want it to.
Ben Kimmel is a proud member of the IUOE Local 94, as well as an Author, Writer on thewrittenaddiction.com, Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Certified Addiction and Recovery Coach, Certified Professional Life Coach, and Peer & Wellness Advocate. Ben can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org