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Emotional Eating During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This era of the Coronavirus is without a doubt an overwhelming time for every one of us. Whether you have lost your job, faced increased stress in your line of work, experiencing self-quarantine with people you have a tense relationship with, or dealing with increased anxiety due to various changes and challenges during this pandemic, most of us have been facing various levels of stress in simply going through our daily life. As a result, more people are currently struggling with unhealthy habits in coping with their stress. One of the outwardly harmless issues that have affected many among us is emotional eating, or also known as stress eating.

Shira Rosenbluth, LCSW, an eating disorder therapist practicing in New York, explained that stress eating is a common issue, so you’re definitely not alone. Experts like herself have expressed that food is indeed something that people tend to turn to for stress relief and comfort, which is basically okay. However, if eating is your only way to cope with emotions, then it may become a problem. Keep in mind that emotional eating doesn’t make your emotional issues go away. In this article, we will cover whether you might be an emotional eater and also how you can stop yourself from being one.


Are you an emotional eater?

To answer that question, you will need to ask yourself several simpler questions. In an article about emotional eating published by the nonprofit mental health and wellness website, HelpGuide, the authors listed the following questions which can help you recognize whether you might be an emotional eater. Try answering each question honestly.

  • Do you eat more when you’re feeling stressed?
  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry or when you’re full?
  • Do you eat to feel better (to calm and soothe yourself)?
  • Do you reward yourself with food?
  • Do you regularly eat until you’ve stuffed yourself?
  • Does food make you feel safe?
  • Do you feel powerless or out of control around food?

If you have noticed that most of your answers are ‘yes’ and that most points do sound relatable to you, you can start making adjustments to your stress or emotional eating habit by implementing the following simple tips. Whenever you’re ready!


How to stop emotional eating

  1. Acknowledge your feelings

Experts have explained that it is important to become more aware of your stressors and triggers, and process your feelings and reactions, away from food. When you acknowledge that your cravings are related to how you feel at a particular time, you will become more aware of when you are experiencing emotional hunger, and not physical hunger, and you can choose to make the conscious decision not to turn to food.

  1. Practice mindful eating

The authors of HelpGuide’s article on this subject explained that when a person eats because of emotional reasons instead of physical hunger, they tend to consume their food mindlessly and also so fast that they tend not to notice when their stomach is full. Therefore, practicing mindful eating, which essentially means slowing down while savoring and focusing on eating your food without distractions, can help you avoid overeating.

  1. Be kind to yourself

Last but not least, in an online article published by Healthline, Shira Rosenbluth, LCSW reminded us that we all have been experiencing a difficult time, and therefore we need to allow ourselves the space to grieve. She continued to explain that offering ourselves compassion is more important than the eating disorder itself. Thus, if you find yourself emotionally eating, don’t beat yourself up. Remember to be kind to yourself and avoid adding more to your stress while you do your best in handling the problem.

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