Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating Working from Home
When it comes to working from home, chances are that sitting in front of your computer means long days and late nights. Juggling job responsibilities while maintaining a healthy lifestyle can create extra stress, often leading to emotional eating.
Breaking bad eating habits and making healthier choices might initially seem daunting, but it's not impossible! In this blog post, we'll discuss how you can kick-start an emotional eating cycle by repurposing your fridge and regaining control over what enters your body daily, so that you can boost your metabolism.
So if you're working from home and ready to exchange mindless binging for mindful eating - let's get started!
What is the relationship between stress and emotional eating?
As someone who has experienced this problem first hand, I know how easy it is to reach for a bag of crisps, a bowl of ice cream, or just mindless eating to relieve stress when things get tough.
When working from home, the lines between work and personal life often blur, making it difficult to separate the two. Stress can be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, and it's no surprise that it can trigger emotional eating.
Stress can cause us to overindulge because it increases the hormone cortisol. This hormone triggers a "fight or flight" response, which can cause us to crave sugary foods or, worst, junk food.
This craving is almost like an instinctive reaction as our bodies instinctively seek out these foods for energy and mood regulation. It can lead to an unhealthy cycle of emotional eating that sometimes neglect the nutritional aspect of food.
Why do I feel comfortable when eating?
There's a reason why so many remote workers turn to comfort food when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Food has the power to provide immediate comfort and satisfaction. Especially when we are working from home, it becomes even more tempting to indulge in emotional eating.
This is because eating releases endorphins, hormones that make us feel good. They can help reduce stress, boost mood, and decrease the physical pain. However, if you are not paying attention, you can end up emotionally eating more than what your body needs.
Binge eating can make you feel guilty and anxious afterwards. Eating your feelings away can be a temporary fix that leaves you feeling empty in the long run. The strong emotions associated with stress and anxiety can make it difficult to break this cycle, leading to unhealthy long-term eating habits.
Is it healthy to eat your feelings away?
No, it is not healthy to eat your feelings away. While food can offer immediate relief from stress and anxiety, it does nothing to address the underlying negative emotions or issues causing them.
The negative emotions will always return, and often stronger than before. If you keep relying on comfort foods to cope, you can soon become an emotional eater, and managing emotional eating can be tricky if not done right.
In addition, stress eating can lead to excess weight, a binge eating disorder, and an increased risk for physical health correlates issues in the long run. The difficult emotions are still there; the only difference is that your body has to carry more weight. You feel stressed and exhausted both mentally and physically.
How common is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is an incredibly common problem among those who work from home. It's easy to turn to food when feeling overwhelmed or stressed, especially when our schedules and routines become disrupted.
Furthermore, it was found that those who work from home are more likely to turn to emotional cravings as a coping mechanism. This is because working from home can be isolating and make people feel lonely and turn to food for self-soothing. To soothe negative emotions, we often reach for snacks that are easily accessible.
It's amazing how most of us turn to food first when feeling overwhelmed or stressed. It can become difficult to break this cycle, making it important to identify healthy strategies for coping with stress and negative emotions.
The mental health implications of emotional eating can be severe and wide-ranging, so finding healthier alternatives for managing your stress and emotions is important.
Let's dig into some alternative activities to emotional eating
For many of us, working from home has become a new reality. While the flexibility is great, it can also come with its own set of challenges.
One of the biggest hurdles is avoiding the temptation to eat emotionally. When stress levels skyrocket, reaching for our favourite comfort foods or unhealthy foods is easy to help us cope. But what if we took this opportunity to explore alternative activities that could satisfy our food cravings for comfort without all of the guilt?
Examples Of Alternative Activities
Perhaps it's time to delve into a new hobby; how about walking the dog or having a dance party in your living room to release some endorphins and relieve tension when stressed?
At the moment, stress = food. You can do many alternative activities when feeling overwhelmed or stressed that don't involve food and only take 5 minutes away from your desk.
Examples of these activities include:
- EFT (Tapping)
- Art therapy
Engaging in a creative activity can help shift our focus away from negative thoughts and allow us to express ourselves in a new, unique way. The uncomfortable emotions can still be there, but we can help them dissipate through mindful activity.
Another alternative activity is to start mindful eating. Watching what you eat, food choices and portion sizes can help prevent overeating. People eat for many reasons, but learning to choose and enjoy your food intake consciously can help you stop the emotional eating cycle and make healthier choices.
Consulting with a mental health professional is also good if you struggle with severe emotional eating. A professional can help to identify underlying issues and develop healthy strategies for dealing with them.
Whatever alternative activity we choose, the most important thing is to be gentle with ourselves and remember that emotional eating is not our only coping mechanism.
How do I break the emotional eating cycle?
Breaking the emotional eating cycle can be challenging, but it's an achievable goal.
Identify your triggers
First, we must become aware of our triggers or the situations that cause us to reach for food. When hunger cues and cravings hit, assess why you're reaching for food. Is it boredom, stress or anxiety? Physical and emotional hunger usually feel different, so being mindful can help.
Speaking out loud about the trigger that causes stress and anxiety can help to alleviate these feelings and reduce the need for indulgence.
There are emotional eating types, such as the stress eater, emotional soother and reward seeker. Identifying which type you are can help you better find your trigger. You can also seek advice from mental health professionals for this.
Prepare your action plan
Once you've identified the trigger, create an action plan. It could be as simple as preparing meal planning and watching your food intake. Certain foods can also give us energy and improve our mood, so include them in your diet. It will help your food cravings better.
Additionally, make sure you have healthy snacks on hand that you enjoy. Try to avoid triggers and create healthy alternatives to emotional eating. A plate of comfort food with low fat dip can also help you stay on track. A food diary can be a great tool for understanding your eating patterns and habits.
Practice mindful eating
Next, refrain from eating at your workstation and practice mindful eating. This strategy will help you recognise your hunger cues and help stop emotional eating. Stop eating when you feel full, but not stuffed. In Japan, there is a rule that suggests people eat until they are only 80% full. This practice is known as "hara hachi bu" and originated in Okinawa as a method for managing food consumption.
The occasional treat is okay, but don't use it to cope with your feelings. Enjoy the food and savour every bite. When cravings hit, take a few deep breaths, distract yourself and focus on something else. We can break the emotional eating cycle by paying attention to our eating habits.
Find healthier coping mechanisms
Finally, find alternative activities to help shift your focus away from food and replace emotional eating with healthier alternatives. It could be anything from exercise to hobbies, such as gardening or painting. The positive emotions from engaging in a new activity can help reduce stress and anxiety and your urge to eat.
The more cravings and stress you can manage, the easier for you to break the emotional eating cycle. You can soothe negative emotions through activities that bring joy and pleasure.
To finish, remember...
To overcome emotional eating when working from home, it's important to identify the triggers, prepare an action plan, practice mindful eating and find healthier coping mechanisms.
With a little patience, compassion and these strategies, you'll find yourself on the path to overcoming emotional eating cycle. Gain control and manage your emotions healthily, leading to an empowered work-life balance.
And remember, you are not alone in this struggle – lean on peer support from friends, family, co-workers or a trusted therapist to help navigate your emotions and develop healthy coping mechanisms for when the urge to eat strikes emotionally when you work from home.
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