Emotional Eating and Self-Care: What Have I Done For Me Lately?

Emotional eating as self-care is a dangerous habit many of us fall into. A lack of self-care is often a set up for using emotional eating to self-soothe. Once in this cycle, it gets easy to spiral around and around. It won’t stop until you engage in true self-care. I’m not talking about pedicures and massages (although those are nice too!). Self-care actually looks like:

  • Identifying and acknowledging emotions. This is first because it is, hands down, the most important. All of our emotions have a function. By paying attention to what we are feeling and why we feel it without judgment, we can fully process the emotion and let it dissipate. Too often, we try to shut down uncomfortable emotions by using something like food to avoid feeling it. In reality, the reaction that takes place in our brain when we experience an emotion only last 90 seconds IF we attend to it.
  • Meet basic needs. Sleep, adequate water and nutrition are the foundation for our health and well-being mentally and physically. I can’t stress this enough. When we don’t get adequate sleep, water and nutritious food, we do not have the emotional resources to manage our mood and emotions without using something like food to cope. Sadly, in times of stress these are generally the first to go when we have a lack of time or energy. However, these are the things that will insulate us from emotional disturbance.
  • Practice Vagus Nerve exercises to widen window of tolerance. The Vagus nerve runs from our neck behind our jaw and under our earlobe down to our intestines touching all of our major organs. Its function is to carry signals between our brain, heart and digestive system. It is part of the parasympathetic nervous system which calms our stress response. By strengthening our Vagal Nerve, we can insulate ourselves against stress. We can do this by massaging the Vagal Nerve, gargling, laughing, singing, and toning. Toning can be achieved by breathing in your nose and exhaling through your mouth as you vibrate the back of your throat or putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth and breathing out like Darth Vader.

Changing patterns can be difficult. Changing eating patterns is even more difficult. If you have tried and struggled to change, contact me today to learn more about the therapies I offer and how I can help.

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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