Eating Distress: Is your coping method killing you?

We’ve all had one of those days where a quick trip to the kitchen for some midnight snacks helps deal with the gluttony of everyday life or a bad breakup? Eating the emotional brunt of a hard workday or skyrocketing anxiety? Sounds familiar. However, it’s time to question, just how healthy is this ideal comfort eating tradition of ours? And most importantly, does it run more profound than a mindless comfort binge?
Firstly, what exactly is ‘Emotional Eating’? Emotional hunger usually stems from the heart, not from the gut. It involves eating copious amounts of food with no checks or self- control. Emotional eating is called the syndrome, where eating disorders like overeating, binge eating, laxative abuse, etc. Society’s faulty conditioning makes us judge or perceive people’s health according to their appearances. However, appearances can be deceiving, no matter where you lean on the spectrum – be it 35 kg anorexic eater to a stable 99 kg –An unstable relation with food and our bodies might stem from unresolved feelings and negative emotions – depression, anxiety, frozen grief, trauma, anger, sexual abuse, abandonment issues, and rejection.

The Isolation Binge

With the pandemic in full swing and our lives restricted to the periphery of our houses, it gets more challenging for people to break out of an unhealthy eating disorder. It also hinders the recovery of people trying to break toxic relationships with food as long stretches of isolation harms our psyche and aggravates us to fuel harmful coping mechanisms.

Conflicted Self Image

With social media setting unrealistic body standards and society’s beauty ideals stressing “hourglass figures” being the norm, there is an increased pressure to fit into these standardized boxes, which fuels anxiety and upsetting emotions. What ensues is a downward spiral with people either resorting to starving themselves, binge and purge or engage in binge eating episodes. Our distorted self-image and heightened body dysmorphia can do great harm. On the surface, individuals struggling with eating disorders might carry an ‘everything is ok” attitude, but deep down, they might need immediate help.

How Do We Cope?

While one must remember that every individual’s eating pattern is unique, like a fingerprint, there are ways to deal with and help improve one’s struggling food patterns. With healthy coping mechanisms and a little bit of will power, one can chuck the eating disorder problems out of their life. Remember that eating disorders are in itself energy consuming, and we have very little ability to control them. Viewing our recovery as a challenge instead of a threat and changing how we respond to circumstances can diffuse some of the stress we experience.

Calming Techniques

Abnormal stress levels induce an overdrive in our feelings and leave us drained and exhausted. Start the recovery process by recollecting your thoughts and clearing your mind each day. Practice self-preservation kind and focus on yourself. Breathe deep, hold it in for five seconds, and exhale. This could help you get rid of all negative thoughts, worries, and anxiety. Other calming strategies include:
(Source: Tiny Budhha) · Yoga · Meditation · Breathing exercises · Aromatherapy

Emotion Based Techniques

A vital step to recovery is gathering your emotions, accepting the presence of both negative and positive feelings all the same. Adopting strategies that tap into the cause of stressors and finding your triggers can help. Essential emotional strategies to keep in mind –
  • Journaling and penning down your emotions
  • Optimistic mindset and quitting the cycle of self-blame when things go wrong
  • People with eating disorders tend to engage in negative self-talk. Write affirmative, meaningful messages to yourself to help reduce stress.

Solution-oriented Techniques

Small changes go a long way to help in the healing process. One change leads to another, which puts the individual on a positive path that can alter life significantly. These tips can be useful for stress relief.

Solution-focused techniques that help:

  • Adopt time-management skills when you feel overwhelmed by a busy schedule
  • Talking to friends /family/therapist someone when you feel stressed
  • Try something new each day – a new hobby, read a new book, a new adventure
  • Respect your limits and change plans. Permit yourself to do something else if it makes you comfortable.

Healthier and Happier Eating

Apart and parcel of respecting your body’s mechanism and boundaries is to feed it well. Indulge in nutritious food and meals that make you happy. Go for a balanced diet chart. Consult a dietitian and therapist for appropriate guidelines. Food is vital to our existence, and it is crucial to have a healthy connection with what our body intakes. Being mindful of our friend’s and family’s eating patterns and food habits, advocating healthier food habits, and being kind to the one’s struggling is the solution to this 21-century problem.
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