Emotional Eating As A Response To Grief June 24, 2021

Emotional Eating As A Response To Grief

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is using food as a way to deal with emotions you are experiencing. It is a way to avoid the feelings or calm them.  Indulging in a batch of cookies or salty bag of potato chips might feel good and numb the feelings in the moment but often leaves us feeling guilty afterwards.  Not only do we feel worse emotionally, emotional eating as a response to grief can harm your body physically. 


Common Triggers

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Fear/anxiety
  • Happiness/excitement
  • Being overtired
  • Stress
  • Loneliness


Grief and Emotional Eating

So, how do grief and emotional eating intersect? If you look at the triggers of emotional eating they are all feelings and circumstances that can be brought on while experiencing grief. During the grieving process you may feel loneliness and anger, maybe you are not getting enough sleep. The normal process of grief and the feelings it conjures up are a perfect storm for potential emotional eating. 


Using Food to Mask Feelings 

Late night snacks. Morning cereal binges.  There may be a certain time of day you find yourself anticipating the stress of the day or at night when you are releasing the tension of the day.  When you are in the throes of grief it is much harder to maintain a discipline around eating.  There are so many ups and downs when grieving. Just when you think things are turning a corner for the better that wave of sadness comes back again. The interesting thing is that emotional eating can occur when we are happy, celebrating, feeling good. Some use it as a form of celebration. It can also be a way to mask the negative feelings.


Ways to Tackle Emotional Eating While Grieving

  • Acknowledge your grief and all the feelings that come along with it.
  • Journaling/writing down your feelings
  • Do regular feelings checks and assess for known triggers when you are eating without being hungry.
  • Avoid being over hungry or tired
  • Have a support system to express your grief
  • Give yourself grace for setbacks and new waves of grief
  • Find new and healthy ways to deal with stress and side effects of the grief you experience.

Emotional eating can lead to shame and frustration. It can lead to additional weight that can affect overall health long term.  When someone has died or there is some sort of loss, grief is normal and expected.  It is so easy to get caught up in your grief and let it overshadow your ability to maintain proper self care.  A healthy body is a huge factor in positive self esteem and helps to create the canvas for healthy healing while you grieve. 


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