Sometimes we turn to food and overeating because it feels like the easiest way to cope. It’s simple and accessible. Eating what we crave satisfies a yearning and the chemical reaction comforts and soothes and calms us – for a short while. Right now, there are a lot of circumstances that might be triggering you to reach for something to eat. In some moments, it might feel like nothing else will help, but stick with me because there are some simple moves that you can make to help with emotional eating and overeating.
You aren’t alone if you’re feeling challenged right now. There’s so much change and loss. Emotions are running high and people are anxious and tired. Many of us have lost routines or access to our coping strategies. You may have less time alone, your gym might be closed or unsafe, or you no longer have your commute to switch gears. Many of us have new uncertainties in our life and there’s decision fatigue around what used to be simple. In the United States, in the lead up to the most important election in our history, the daily news and frequent gaslighting come at a pace that is impossible to metabolize.
To say it’s a lot would be far beyond an understatement.
The temptation can be to escape. To zone out, go numb, turn off. But that’s like finishing all the Oreos. In the moment you might have a sugary rush and be able to escape your feelings, but a few hours later, the situation is the same. You pressed pause, but nothing changed – at least not for the better.
Self-care and taking breaks are important, and we also need a plan for persevering for the long haul. We’re needed. Life goes on. And yes, what’s important to you still matters.
So what’s the alternative to mindless eating, endless emotional eating, and weight gain that adds a whole new layer of frustration?
What I’m seeing all around me, and in myself, is the importance of finding simple, reliable ways to feel anchored and grounded during a time in the world, and especially in the United States, when so many things feel unpredictable and out of our control. When so many things ARE unpredictable and out of our control.
Being anchored and grounded means we’re present. We’re in our bodies and we can feel the ground beneath our feet (literally and figuratively). We know what we’re feeling and thinking and needing which allows us to respond and take care of ourselves. Numbness makes it impossible to identify what we need. When we’re numbing out, we can’t take care of us.
Simple ways to get grounded instead of numbing out with food:
Stop and take ten deep, slow breaths.
Journal for five minutes every morning. Use it as a time to check-in and notice how you’re feeling.
Eat a mindful meal. Tune in with all your senses and experience being present. Paying attention allows you to feel satisfied.
Give yourself space, even a few minutes in between activities to change gears instead of charging from one thing to the next without a break, or grabbing a snack as your transition.
Look for easy, small places to create order. Organize a shelf in your closet. Clean off your desk. This helps build a feeling of control and effectiveness.
Take a purposeful action that has meaning to you. Vote. Contact someone in your life and encourage them to vote. Call your elected officials. Donate. Specific action can counter vague feelings of overwhelm.
Make a list of things you are grateful for or a list of things that are going well. Perspective is grounding.
Instead of creating a to-do list, go right to your calendar. Enter the tasks that need to be done into a specific day and time slot so you can feel a sense of having taken care of them.
Spend fifteen minutes preparing for something that helps you be at your best. Make your lunch, lay out your workout clothes, create a space where you can spend quiet time in the mornings.
Look for places where you crave structure and start to create small rituals that are manageable with how your life is now. Creating repeating routines gives you ongoing ways to keep regrounding.
Connect with someone you trust. Spending time with another – even virtually – can be grounding. Physical touch is grounding. Talking through thoughts that are ricocheting in your head is grounding.
Sometimes the simplest thing you can do to feel more grounded is to begin noticing when you aren’t. The act of tuning in to how you feel – whether it’s peaceful, or stressed, or anxious – is grounding. Becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations will bring you into your body and help you be more present.
Being present and grounded these days isn’t always easy. These are challenging times. But disappearing yourself doesn’t help. Ignoring your feelings and needs hurts. And overeating is never a solution that lasts.
One other important way to feel more grounded is to get support when you need it. If It feels like too much, there are professionals who can help. If now’s the time to join my 1:1 coaching program, let’s talk.