Honestly, it’s been a really rough few weeks.

Here in New York, this pandemic has loomed large. And while some of us are channeling our stress into making comfort foods (chicken pot pie – recipe here), baking bread (my son), or cleaning closets (my friend), still others of us are just trying to get through the day or stay in bed/chill on the couch.

The one thing every person seems to have in common though, is the need to eat. Being stuck at home, close to the kitchen, stressed from work, family, the world, can cause anyone to eat emotionally. Food is infused with so much meaning, and eating to fill an emotional need is pretty darn smart when the world just seems to be going crazy.

Whatever your situation, please remember that your body deserves nourishment and care, not restriction or self-criticism during this time of survival!

In this article, we talk about grounding exercises to help you manage overwhelming feelings and anxiety.

Please know that your health is important to us. We are here for you and are providing virtual appointments. Please contact us to set up an appointment.

Emotional Eating Can be a Gift

If you are like so many of my clients at this particular moment, you might be starting to feel “overdone” with emotional eating, and are looking for some strategies to feel more grounded and in control of your food and your environment. You might be looking for ways to manage your stress levels that have nothing to do with food.

I look at emotional eating, however, as a gift. Your body is giving you information into your emotional state. It can be helpful to “just notice” what you are feeling when a craving strikes or you find yourself having a hard time stopping eating before you are overfull. Please remember that emotional eating need not be vilified at this moment, but recognize that it’s serving a very real purpose of survival.

Grounding Exercises to the Rescue

Grounding exercises can be very helpful in managing overwhelming feelings and anxiety. They are a great way to calm you down quickly and get you out of your head and into the present moment.

In my last blog post, I shared some tips for coping with emotional eating, such as: a) finding distractions, b) seeking nurturing activities, and c) dealing directly with the feelings. I wanted to hear about managing our very real fear and anxiety from a professional, so I spoke with my dear colleague, Susan Schrott, DCSW, who is both an eating disorder therapist as well as a yoga, meditation, and mindfulness expert.

Here are some grounding exercises she shared with me that can help get you out of your head when you find your thoughts racing:

  1. Describe what’s around you:
    • Identify 10 items or objects you see or notice in your environment (Examples: “I see a red glass. I see a paperclip. I see a doorknob. I hear an alarm bell.)
  2. Deep belly breathing:
    • Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
    • Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
    • Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
    • Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
    • Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
    • Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.
  3. The Butterfly Hug – This wonderful technique has a few parts to it:
    • Find a comfortable place, seated or standing.
    • Take a few deep breaths, in and out, in and out.
    • Cross your arms across your chest and tap shoulders, left, right, left, right.
    • You can do this for several minutes, or as long as you need!
    • As you tap, alternating shoulders, repeat the following words (called the Metta prayer, or Loving Kindness):
      • May I be safe. May I be healthy. May I be well.
      • May we be safe. May we be healthy. May we be well.

Here’s a link to a video where Susan and I go over these exercises.

Grounding yourself isn’t always easy, especially when we are feeling incredibly stressed out, but with a little practice, you might find some of these techniques very helpful in reducing emotional eating by calming the mind, slowing the heart rate and increasing the flow of oxygen to the brain. In this calmer state, you will be better equipped to defuse yourself from negative thoughts and feelings.

Do you find yourself eating emotionally and feeling out of control?

We all need compassion right now.

We do not need to be on a diet, or restrict our food or stress about food.

We do need something that will help us.

Intuitive Eating is often the solution you are looking for, but you have no idea what it is and how it works.
Intuitive Eating is an approach to food and body image that offers you a method filled with self compassion, gentle nutrition and learning to listen to what your body truly needs.

My next Intuitive Eating Essentials program is the best way for you to Find Food Freedom and Body Peace, especially in today’s trying times.

This program is ideal for women who…

  • Feel “at war” with your body and struggle with negative body image.
  • Cut out entire foods or food groups from your diet.
  • Obsess over the rules of “healthy” eating.
  • Try harder and harder to lose that “middle-age” spread, only to blame yourself when you can’t lose weight.

If you want to live your life from a place of self-acceptance & compassion and recognize what emotional eating is really telling you (it has an important message for you), then join me and the others in this group.
Find out more details here.
If you have questions and want to set up a 15-minute call with Erica to see if this program is for you, please contact us.