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Nurturing Mindful Eating: Embracing Emotional Eating with Kindness

Inspire Health Event Calendar December 22, 2023

Nurturing Mindful Eating: Embracing Emotional Eating with Kindness

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, many of us have experienced the urge to reach for a comforting snack when stress, sadness, or boredom strikes. This is known as emotional eating: a complex interplay between our emotions and our relationship with food. While emotional eating is often stigmatized, it’s important to explore and understand the underlying reasons and, more importantly, cultivate a compassionate approach towards it.

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is the act of consuming food not out of physical hunger, but as a response to emotional triggers. These triggers can be diverse, ranging from stress and anxiety to loneliness or even happiness. Food can be tied to positive memories or cultural celebrations, making it a go-to source of comfort during times of distress. Instead of addressing our emotional needs directly, we turn to food for solace, creating a temporary sense of comfort.

Shifting to Honour Hunger Signals and Cues

While emotional eating may provide momentary relief, it can be helpful to develop strategies that honor our hunger signals and promote a more mindful approach to eating. Here are three ways to shift towards a healthier relationship with food:

  1. Mindful Awareness: Try taking a moment to pause and reflect on your emotions before reaching for food. Are you truly hungry, or is there an underlying emotional trigger? By becoming aware of the reasons behind your desire to eat, you can start to differentiate between physical and emotional hunger.
  2. Build a “Menu” of additional tools: Instead of turning to food as the primary coping mechanism, explore alternative ways to manage emotions. Engage in activities that bring joy and relaxation, such as taking a walk, practicing yoga, or spending time with loved ones. Building a toolbox of healthy additional tools empowers you to address emotions directly, and to know that there are additional strategies that may be supportive.
  3. Cultivate Self-Compassion: Rather than viewing emotional eating as a weakness, embrace it with self-compassion. Understand that emotional eating can be a normal and adaptive experience. Instead of harsh self-judgment, practice self-kindness. Develop a more forgiving attitude towards yourself, recognizing that fostering a positive relationship with food is an ongoing journey.

Emotional eating is a common aspect of the human experience, and it can be helpful to approach it with understanding and kindness. By cultivating mindfulness, building healthy coping mechanisms, and embracing self-compassion, we can begin to shift towards a more balanced and nourishing relationship with food. Remember, the journey to honoring our hunger signals is a process, and each step towards mindful eating is a step towards overall well-being.

Resources:

  1. Christy Harrison – Intuitive Eating Dietitian, Anti-Diet Author, & Certified Eating Disorders Specialist
  2. Emotional Eating | HealthLink BC