When we are distracted by our emotions, our attention span can suffer and mindfulness regarding what and when we eat may not seem very important. Some of us begin to graze in the kitchen, or end up eating a whole bag of snacks while staring at a computer screen. This distracted eating has been the cause of many an expanding waistline. Inattention can also lead to skipping meals, simply because the day gets away from you. Remembering when and what you last ate may be a chore that is not high on the list if you are feeling overwhelmed by other emotions.
Mindfulness is key to helping both issues. Making sure you have regular meal times, that you take out a portion of a snack instead of eating straight out of the container, and that instead of eating outside of those times you are redirecting yourself to a different distracting activity.
Negativity, shame, and hatred rarely inspire people to make long-lasting great changes, especially when it comes to our bodies or our sense of self. When people look in the mirror and see how long a road they have to reach a certain goal they may feel so overwhelmed they instead turn to the self soothing. Many people tell me they will stop hating their body after they reach their goal weight. I say you have to stop hating your body before you can stop the emotional eating cycle.
The solution? Unfortunately, this one is multi-layered, complicated, and unique for each person.
Change in daily patterns
This one is easy to understand. When we change our habits, it can throw our metabolism out of regularity. You might even have changed things for a positive reason, such as a new job, or moving in with a new partner or friend. When our schedules change it often goes hand in hand with a change in sleeping patterns, and a change in stress level (good and bad stress). We often end up missing sleep and meals or just having them at different times. Once you are feeling tired or hungry, you are vulnerable to emotional eating.
Our body naturally sends hormonal messages to our brain signaling the need for an increase in calories to combat whatever is causing this change in schedule. In ancient times, a change in schedule, missed sleep and meals would mean an increase in danger and decrease in food availability. Silly body and brain.
Easy answer…get back to a regular sleep schedule and make sure you are eating regular meals (not huge ones). If this schedule change is long term your body will eventually adjust, if it is short term, make sure you are getting a full complement of recommended nutrition so you can be on your A game.
Please remember, if you feel that you are overwhelmed by your emotions, reach out for help. A change in eating habits that is related to emotional distress may be short term or it may be just one sign that you are having a rough time and you may need to look for help outside yourself. The important thing is to take care and be kind.