Yesterday, I read a blog post that really resonated with me. Katie from Health for the Whole Self – one of my favorite blogs! – wrote about emotional eating, saying that sometimes the urge to eat (when we aren’t hungry) may come “from a place of desperately needing something else.”
Specifically, she writes:
I have had great success with the simple process of feeling the urge to go for the pint of ice cream, stopping myself in my tracks, and pondering, “What do I REALLY need right now?”
The answers have been wildly varied:
- a hug
- a nap
- a trashy romance novel
- a venting session with my journal
- a mini temper tantrum, often involving some pillow-punching
- some time away from any and all technology
- a good, hard cry
Sound familiar? How often do you reach for food when you really need something else?
Years ago, for me, it used to be all the time. Like I’ve written in other posts, I used to cope with stress, anything negative or life in general with food.
Sometimes, though, what you need may not be what’s available, but food is still rarely an equal alternative. Katie writes:
Now just because I take the time to figure out what I really need doesn’t mean I always get it.There are plenty of times when I need a hug but I’m alone, or I need a nap but I’m at work. In those cases I just accept that the situation isn’t ideal, and plan for a future time to give myself what I really need.
I don’t – or at least I try really hard not to – settle for an alternative. Because the simple truth is this: when what I really need is a hug, even the best chocolate chip cookie won’t do. When I really need to shed some tears on a supportive shoulder, a spoon and a jar of peanut butter are rather poor substitutes.
Food will never hug me back. It will never hold me and assure me that everything will be ok. In most cases, it just isn’t what I really need. The urge to eat subsides when I truly recognize that.
Below, I’ve brainstormed some ways to cope that might help you when what you need isn’t a piece of food. Remember that these coping tips aren’t meant to be distractions from a hungry stomach or when you genuinely want to taste the yummy goodness of a piece of cake, a bowl of pasta or whatever. These are helpful to use when you’re clearly in need of something beyond food.
So when you’ve got the urge to eat, ask yourself what you really need, like Katie recommends. Maybe it’s one of these…
Like Katie says in her post, sometimes what you really need might not be able at work – like a nap, unfortunately. But these are other options for coping at work.
What coping skills would you add to these lists? What are your favorite things to do when you’re upset or anxious?
By the way, today’s favorite post is “Journey into Loneliness: Lesson from Eat, Pray, Love” at Nourishing the Soul. Wow, can I relate to this one.
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Last reviewed: 20 Aug 2010