Cope with Your Emotions with Kindness

We face many difficult situations in our lives especially as students. These situations can produce many different emotions and they can lead us to develop negative self talk and poorer moods. The Intuitive Eating framework can help us adopt positive coping mechanisms that can improve our relationships with ourselves and with food. 

We Are Our Harshest Critics


When a person suffers from disordered eating or is stuck in constant diet cycles, negative feelings can arise. This is because when there is restriction of foods, both from a physical and mental position, it can create a sense of loss of control (Tribole & Resch, 2020). How do we get out of this cycle? After ditching diet culture (IE Principle 1), and making peace with food (IE Principle 3), feelings of guilt and shame lessen because we have a kinder, gentler, position on foods. 

Have you ever eaten something and thought "ugh I shouldn't have eaten that," followed by shame and guilt? Or "I'm so (insert negative thought)." These emotions are common in chronic dieters and people with disordered eating. When these feelings arise, we must learn to be kind to ourselves. 

Coping Skills

When you are having strong emotional reactions and are thinking of using food to cope, here are a few things you can ask yourself:
1. "What am I feeling right now?" 
2. Then ask "What do I need, right now, that relates to my feelings?"  (Tribole & Resch, 2020). 
Pondering on these questions can help us consider what emotions might need attention at that time.

Creating a Self-Care Toolbox can be a great resource in coping with emotions. To do this you can think about feelings you feel often like; stress, anxiety, or boredom. Then consider different things you can do to help. For example, if you are feeling stressed you can journal, do yoga, take a warm bath, or meditate. Having these ideas jotted down can serve as a "toolbox" for times when you need it most .

It is important to remember that a part of normal eating as humans is eating for comfort (Tribole & Resch, 2020). However, it becomes unhealthy when food is the only thing a person uses to cope with emotions. Be kind to yourself as you learn to recognize and care for your emotions, as it can take time to learn what works best for you.