COPING WITH EMOTIONAL EATING IN TIMES OF CRISIS



Daily life as we knew it doesn’t exist anymore. There have been a series of abrupt changes in our routines that have led the world into a new pace where we were forced to slow down.

We were asked to stay home at all times, we are allowed to work from home, to study from home, to exercise at home, to spend the much-needed time off we always craved at home with our families.

We are still adapting to this new “lockdown lifestyle”. Being at home all the time could be the biggest challenge for many people who are not used to stay indoors the whole week. Many people are also struggling with feelings of anxiety, anger, depression as the uncertainty is extreme and overwhelming.

During this #stayhome period, it is common that people turn to food to find some sort of comfort in times of crisis. Finding comfort in food could be a result of a learnt behavior that dates back from childhood (emotional eating as a way to soothe negative emotions) or it could be a result of being bored and/or under distress.




Avoiding emotional eating is not easy as food is the easiest and most convenient way to distract yourself from reality, especially during hard times like these days. However, you can still do your best to avoid turning to food for comfort by following these tips:


1. Have nutrient dense meals: Starting your day with a complete breakfast will keep you full for most of your morning. If you add one of the three macronutrients in your meals, you will get the nutrients that your body needs. You can also focus on including as many colors on your plate as you can.


2. Keep a meal journal: if you want to ditch emotional eating for good, you need to track all your trips to the fridge and the pantry. Keeping a food journal is one of the best tools to recognize habits and behaviors related to your relationship with food. This habit will also help you identifying foods that could be causing you problems or digestive issues. I have designed a simple meal journal that you can download and use it to track your eating habits.


3. Identify physical hunger from emotional hunger: physical hunger is when your body starts sending you cues that it needs a supply of energy (in form of food) for it to function properly. Emotional hunger refers to those moments when you are either bored, anxious, upset or under any other emotional state that makes your body crave endorphins that will sooth or suppress that feeling. Keeping a meal journal will help you identify when you are physically hungry and when you feel you want to eat out of emotions.


4. Do a pantry/fridge clean out: since we are under a lockdown you must have some spare time that could be used doing a pantry/fridge clean out. You can choose those food items that are not beneficial for you like packaged foods, cookies, refined carbs, sweets. Keep only essentials and those items that are not filled with preservatives and additives.


5. Drink water when you start craving food: drinking water may trick your stomach into reaching its capacity so it will send your brain the signal to stop eating. By doing this, you can also learn a new behavioral conditioning that will associate your cue of craving some type of food with drinking water.


6. Keep yourself busy: When you feel the need to look for something to eat (considering you are not physically hungry), redirect your attention to something else. Instead of going directly to the fridge, pick up a book and read a chapter, play sudoku on your phone, start a new hobby…


7. Plan your meals for the whole week: knowing exactly what you are going to prepare in advance will help you organizing your meals. In this way you can run to the grocery shop and get only what you need, without adding extra unnecessary items that are not only unhealthy, but also pricey.




Staying at home for so long can be a bit overwhelming for everyone, and it can bring up some issues that we hadn’t had to deal with before. However, it can also be an opportunity given to you to reconnect with yourself, with your mind and your body. You can learn how to listen to it and start unlearning past behaviors that don’t serve you well anymore.

If you want to work on your eating habits and would like to get some guidance on how to improve your nutrition book your one-hour free coaching session with me.

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© 2020 by Kotiro Kaha Laura

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