Emotional overeating is a common way to confront stress, anger, sadness, loneliness, and other negative emotions. As a family caregiver, you are likely to experience these emotions on a frequent basis, as is your aging adult. Recognizing that you or your aging parent use emotional overeating as a way to deal with these emotions is an important step in eliminating these behaviors and preventing the potentially serious complications and consequences that can result from emotional overeating. Once you recognize these behaviors, together you can take steps to cope with your tendency to emotionally overeat and find healthier, more constructive ways to deal with your emotions.
Use these tips to help you cope with emotional overeating in your own caregiver journey or in your parents later years:
- Make an effort to be aware of your emotions and connect with them honestly and openly. Being honest with your emotions is critical in addressing them properly and effectively.
- When you start to feel a negative emotion, take a minute to process through it before immediately reaching for food. Let yourself feel and experience the emotion rather than sensing that it might be there and reaching for food rather than addressing it.
- If you think that you are hungry, take a moment to evaluate what is going on and determine if you are really hungry. Think about the last time that you ate, what you ate, and if your body really needs food, or if you just want to eat something.
- Reach out to a member of your support team, such as your partner or a good friend, and talk for a few moments. Let your emotions calm down before you consider whether you should eat.
- Find non-food treats, rewards, and relaxation techniques for when you are going through a hard time and always go to those first. Take a walk or a bubble bath, listen to music, sip a soothing tea, or read a good book.
- Make eating a mindful activity. Avoid eating in front of the TV. Sit at the table with your family and enjoy talking while eating.
- Join a support group or seek counseling to help you work through your emotions more productively.
In your role as a family caregiver for your elderly parent, your primary goal is to help them live the highest quality of life possible as they age in place. This means helping them at to manage health challenges that they may be suffering, and provide proper assistance for their challenges and limitations, and encourage them to maintain as much independence and engagement as possible. One of the best ways that you can pursue this goal is by starting elderly care for them. An elderly home care services provider can create a highly personalized set of services tailored specifically to your senior as an individual. This means that they will receive the services that they require to manage their individual needs in the ways that are appropriate for them according to their personality, preferences, beliefs, and goals. As a caregiver, this will give you peace of mind knowing that your parent is able to get the level of care that they need and deserve both when you are there with them and when you are not.