Emotional Eating: Don’t Fall Victim and Pack on the Pounds

by Matt Weik

There are a lot of things that run through people’s minds. You have the stress of people worrying about money. You have kids running around your house all day long. You have stress about work. All of this stress and mental exhaustion can lead to emotional eating. And we all know what emotional eating leads to… excess weight gain.

Emotional Eating Is A Real Thing

Some people think emotional eating is fake and it’s just people’s way of making an excuse for poor nutritional choices. However, emotional eating is a real thing and it can affect anyone. In fact, right now it’s growing by the day in America.

Those days or nights where you’re overly stressed, you can find yourself searching high and low in your pantry for something salty, sweet, fatty, or generally unhealthy. And while the first step to correcting the situation would be to better manage your stress levels and emotions, that’s generally easier said than done.

And the fact that people have been stocking up on food means there’s more food around you to nibble and snack on. Most people aren’t measuring out their food throughout the day, they are grabbing a handful of chips or pretzels and then chasing their kids around the house. That one or two drinks per night are turning into a six-pack or multiple pours of bourbon. Before people know it, the number on the scale starts creeping up.

People Are Stocking Up on Food at Their Home

I was looking at some Nielsen data for the US and it was YOY through March 21, 2020. Food consumption has gone up dramatically in various categories. For instance, beans are up 237%, rice is up 234%, pasta is up 228%, soup is up 237%, baking yeast is up 647%, canned meat is up 282%, fresh meat alternatives is up 454%, fresh meat is up 100%, processed meat is up 127%, milk/dairy is up 86%, butter is up 127%, oat milk is up 513%, and surprisingly, ice cream is only up 50% (I expected this to be MUCH higher). Sure, some of these increases are due to panic-buying and hoarding, but nonetheless, these are some dramatic increases.

More and more people are shopping for the necessities and getting in and out of the grocery store as if the place was on fire. They don’t want to touch anything, they don’t want to browse the aisles, they just want to get what they need and get home. This has hurt many newer brands as trial has decreased since people aren’t browsing and taking time to look at labels. People are buying products and brands they are familiar with and getting out.

A survey was conducted by Brick Meets Click/ShopperKit Online Grocery Shopping Survey that found 31% of US households have been using either a pickup grocery service or an online grocery delivery service during this Coronavirus scare. Many people don’t want to go to the grocery store in fear of getting the virus. And of this number, 26% mentioned this is the first time they have been using such grocery services. 43% of the people surveyed mentioned that even after this whole Coronavirus thing passes that they will continue using these services. And let’s face it, they’re convenient and that seems to be the way things are trending these days.

How Can You Prevent Emotional Eating?

With emotional eating, it’s not like the normal hunger you feel during the day. Emotional eating hits you like a ton of bricks and even when you become full, you still aren’t completely satisfied which causes you to continue eating. The key to helping prevent emotional eating is to find the source and redirect your focus onto something productive to prevent you from reaching for food as the answer. Here are some tips to consider to keep your mind and body active to help prevent emotional eating…

You’re Bored

If you’re bored and have nothing to do, look at what needs to be done around your house. Cleaning, fixing things, home improvement projects, simply find something to keep yourself occupied and your mind off of food and your emotions. You can even grab a good book you’ve been meaning to read (hopefully something on self-improvement or improving your skillsets).

You’re Stressed

It’s common to be stressed in a time like this, the key is to channel that stress into something useful – like exercise. Stress and anger tend to go hand in hand and when you need an outlet, a workout is a perfect option. Whether you have gym equipment at home or choose to do a bodyweight workout, simply take 30 minutes out of your day to get your pump on. You can even go for a walk outside if the weather is nice.

You’re Depressed

Depression can be a slippery slope and if you are feeling down, it may be a good idea to call someone and get help. That being said, if you’re feeling just a little down in the dumps, you want to find something you enjoy doing. Watch a good movie such as a comedy or put on your favorite type of music to boost your spirits and take your mind off of what’s bothering you.

You’re Mentally Exhausted

Find time to relax and unwind. This can be a nice relaxing Epsom salt bath or even sitting in a dark and quiet room to meditate and clear your head. Or, better yet, if you haven’t been sleeping well with everything that has been going on, go to bed early and try to catch up on some sleep. If you can get a minimum of seven hours each night, that would be ideal and can definitely help boost your mental performance during the day.