Ask a Health Instructor: Emotional Eating and Food Offenses

Hey folks, board-certified health instructor Erin Power is here to answer your questions about eating comfortably and eating during stressful times. If you are fighting this, you are not alone! We are here with tips and help to build a healthy relationship with food in times of stress. Have a question you would like to ask our health coach? Leave it in the comments on the Marks Daily Apple Facebook group or above.

Michelle asked:
“I always end up relaxing when I’m worried or stressed and I’m always worried or stressed! After a hard day, I eat more pizza or other foods that make me feel bad and gain weight. Then I feel guilty, can’t sleep, think more! How do I stop it? “

The woman is eating fried chicken as if her stomach is hurting.The urge to soothe oneself with food during times of stress is real. So, unfortunately, the consequences of eating foods that make us feel bad instead of better.

Chronic stress itself can contribute to greed and unwanted weight gain as it regulates and imposes taxes on the nervous and endocrine systems, including excess stimulation of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. To make matters worse, people with chronic stress are more likely to have access to sugary, carbohydrate and saturated fatty foods.

Clearly, high-quality, whole-food-based saturated fats are not unhealthy! But combining it with sugar, a large carbohydrate load and overall excess calorie intake can lead to unwanted weight gain, stress on the digestive tract and promote systemic inflammation.

What’s more, the foods that make us “feel crooked” aren’t usually high-quality or whole-food-based. It is much more common for people struggling with comfortable eating or emotional eating to reach for fast food full of high processed foods or unhealthy trans fats and highly refined, inflammatory seed oils.

And, as you mentioned, overeating and eating foods that make us feel physically and mentally ill creates absolutely extra stress and interferes with good sleep. It promotes chronic stress, systemic inflammation and unwanted weight gain. Ironically, this makes us more likely to engage in more emotional eating the next day – literally feeding a helpless cycle.

Ask for help

First, take a deep breath and realize that you are not alone. An increasing number of people are suffering from stress, anxiety, depression and other types of emotional-emotional challenges. In an effort to cope, many are turning to food and mental eating habits that make them feel bad. People with a history of chaotic eating are more likely to fall into this type of pattern during periods of anxiety and uncertainty.

I would like to mention here – for anyone reading – that when eating habits start to feel out of control in a potential eating disorder, you may want to meet with a licensed therapist or other mental health professional. The same goes for anyone suffering from clinical depression, anxiety, or other serious mental health concerns.

That said, as a primary health trainer, I work with many clients who struggle with emotional eating. As an instructor, I can assure you that there is hope for you to get out of the helpless cycle and change your relationship with food.

By recognizing your pattern around eating and asking for help, you’ve already taken a huge, bold first step. I’ll share a few more below!

Strategies and tips for passionate eating

1. Refram eating comfortably.
One of the first things I recommend is to refresh “comfortable eating”. Instead of equating it with “emotional eating” or what some call “eating their feelings”, let’s give it a new and improved definition.

What if eating comfortably means eating foods that make you feel better after eating? In other words, choosing food and eating in a way that gives you true comfort!

This part is food choice. For this, I recommend stocking your home with healthy, basic options. This makes it easier when your environment is set up to help you. And, conversely, an easy way to avoid foods that make you feel bad is to not keep them around.

2. Pause and play the tape forward.
This is a great job right now — either before you go “too far” or when you find yourself in the middle of it. This brings the emotional eating moment into the “present tense”. Many times we reflect on the “disbelief” of our food, overwhelmed with frustration and guilt, which … often doesn’t work.

In that case, imagine yourself overdoing it – whatever it means to you – and then notice what happens next. See yourself in 10 minutes from now, later when you are trying to fall asleep and tomorrow morning. Really understand how your current actions will affect your future. How do you feel physically, mentally?

Now illustrate an alternative scenario – in which you choose differently and probably keep the food separate for the time being. Where will that choice go?

Practice choosing the moment you know your future will make you feel better.

3. Breathe and move!
Instead of telling yourself you have nothing, try saying: “Maybe later, after 10 deep breaths or 10 minutes of walking.”

By itself, walking and deep, slow breathing are excellent techniques for controlling the nervous system and reducing stress and anxiety. You will distract yourself through calm, grounding activities that connect you to the feelings of your body and mind. It’s a great way to get rid of cravings and get rid of greed.

4. Enter it.
Numerous studies have shown the beneficial effects of journaling or “expressive writing” in relieving physical and mental-emotional symptoms. Some people find it helpful to keep a food log as a form of personal responsibility and to comply with eating goals.

This is a long-term strategy, since journaling is most effective if done consistently over weeks or months. Don’t let that discourage you! Set aside time each morning or evening (even 10 minutes) to place your fingers on a paper pen or keyboard.

You can write about how you feel and eat specifically … or see what comes out on the page. The key is to (1) not censor or judge yourself and (2) offer yourself an outlet to reflect where you are and where you want to be.

The task of writing things down can help you change your relationship with eating over time.

5. Cultivation of tension.
Instead of just focusing on what you want to change or avoid, find something you can look forward to and even get excited about!

It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and ideally it should be something you can start on a regular basis – especially when you tend to eat passionately. Maybe there’s an activity or project you enjoy, a book you want to read, or a television show you want to watch. Choose something that you can look forward to and that will make you feel relaxed and relaxed both in that moment and later.

6. Get support.
While the above steps offer a solid starting point, I can’t stress enough the value of getting support and working one by one with a mental health professional or trainer.

External responsibility is really a game changer, and we can help you navigate your specific situations and challenges. As part of this, we can provide “hard love” in times of need but will also answer questions, offer unique guidance and, above all, empower you to take the most supportive steps towards your health and happiness goals. Even working with a coach for a month or two can help you recover, reset, and build a framework for success. Visit to learn more and get started.

Do you struggle with mental eating? Have any tips to share? Drop them and other questions for me in the comments!



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