Stress Eating: What Are You Really Craving?

Let’s face it, we’ve all had those moments in life when only your favorite comfort food can make the pain go away..or at least numb it temporarily. When the fight-or-flight response switches on we often crave some form of carbs or fatty, greasy foods (not broccoli, but if you do then all the more power to you.)Turning to food as a source of comfort is nothing new. Whether it’s a crunchy bag of chips, a cheesy pizza or an unctuous piece of chocolate cake we all have those foods that somehow provide a hit or two of dopamine when life kicks up the stress a notch or..5! With holiday season in full swing our stress levels can go through the roof. With sugar, spice and everything oh so very nice it’s challenging resist those cravings. I too have my go to foods that I can turn to in moments of emotional turmoil (no it isn’t kale). Cheese, bagels and ice cream are some of my favorites..Shocked? Yep I’m human too 😉

Emotional eating makes sense because food is such an integral part of traditions, celebrations and memories. Our emotions our part of the matrix, as food nourishes both body and soul. It therefore makes sense that we engage in emotional eating whether we binge or prefer a small slice of yum, whatever that may be. Pizza anyone?

But how can stress eating also be a more mindful experience? I think one of the most important things to do is to remove the stigma and judgement around the process. The need for perfection and to always eat “healthy” can sometimes create unnecessary stress for us. So what if we had a slice of pie or an everything bagel with a big schmear of scallion cream cheese?! Life goes on. However, when emotional eating become our ONLY coping mechanism and we don’t fully navigate our emotional needs this can lead to a downward spiral of behaviors that don’t serve our health; and can ultimately prevent us from contributing our unique gifts to this planet. We all have unmet needs and are just finding ways to meet them. Food happens to be one of the strategies we use, thinking we can meet our needs of perhaps fulfillment. When we are triggered, this is when we have the opportunity to ask ourselves what’s really going on on a visceral level, and how am I trying to avoid facing the situation? As soon as we allow ourselves to look in the mirror with compassion and kindness we are already one step closer to healing. Eating is just one strategy we implement to either fill a void or numb the pain. How can we find other more helpful strategies that will help us soothe, rather than numb our feelings? Personally I find movement and dance to be one of the greatest healing modalities to release stress. I also love the practice of journaling and expressing myself verbally with a loved one. Sometimes a supportive ear is all we need to be seen, acknowledged and heard. Whatever your self-soothing strategy may be I find that consistency is key so it becomes a helpful resource for you instead of food. If you do however choose food at that moment I encourage you to remove fear and guilt out of the moment. Enjoy and take pleasure in the experience and know that at any moment you can create a new experience. Every moment is available to help lead us to our wholeness.

I wish you Happy & Healthy Cravings! 🙂

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