First, I have to highlight that after losing almost 100lbs, 14 years ago, I still struggle with the desire to run to food for comfort. Sadly, that battle hasn't gone away. And while it's managed well, when really intense events like this come up, I feel strong urges to turn to food for healing. Copious amounts of food.
A pragmatic approach to coping with emotional eating
In a time where we are quarantined, and full of uncertainty, turning to food feels like an easy solution to just eat our sorrows, loneliness, and doubts away. If you're struggling with this, I'd love to walk you through a 3 step process I often take myself and clients through.
First, when the urge comes up... take 5 deep breaths. That's all. 5 deep breaths allow for a quick pause and time to reflect. After those breaths, I often step out of myself (and my self sabotaging behaviors) and regain consciousness. I then step into a space where I remember that health is wealth, and the bag of chips, the chocolate, and the cupcakes aren’t going to soothe anything.
Then, I feel and release the emotions that came up. If it's stress, anxiety, fear... whatever. I feel it, then release it. Sometimes that's with a good cry, or I call a loved one, or I journal. But I get that shit out - because once it's felt and released, it won't feel as necessary to turn to food.
Finally, I close my eyes and mentally step into my "post-binge" self. I feel into what she will feel like. I know she'll be met with guilt, shame, and a tummy ache. I know the food won't "cure" anything. So stepping into her allows me to recognize what she truly needs - and here’s a hint - food is never the answer!
And one more tip: empty those pantries! Remove the foods that won't serve your journey. In quarantine, when you are home 98% of the time, having poor choices, within arms reach, won't help make your process any easier. So fill your cupboard with healthy snacks that will set you up for success!
What my diet has looked like during this time
Truthfully, I haven't been feeling very inspired in the kitchen lately, so I’m keeping it very simple with easy go-to options that take minimal effort and brain capacity.
These meals ensure I'm reaching towards my goals of eating less meat, and also keeping me healthy during this time.
Breakfasts have been smoothies. My basic formula is a green (usually spinach), a fruit (usually mango and/or banana), a healthy seed (usually chia, hemp, or ground flax), cinnamon, water/ice, and touch of honey. If I'm feeling particularly fancy I'll throw in some protein powder, cocoa, or peanut butter. On days I’m training (I’ve been working out 3-4x per week) I’ll have oats. That’s usually made with almond milk and a touch of honey... and topped with banana, chia seeds, cinnamon, and nut butter.
Lunches have been salads. Basic formula is a spring mix for the base, topped with some raw veggies (usually carrots/cucumber), a protein (usually an Egg/tofu), a complex carb (usually seasoned legumes), avocado, and balsamic salad dressing. Then, if I'm feeling fancy I'll top it with croutons, seeds/dried fruit, and a cheese - usually goat.
Snacks have been a vegan protein bar on the regular
Dinner has been a fish with veggies. For the fish, I'll season with jerk, curry, cajun, or garlic/honey... and I'll season the veggies with some chili and Mrs. Dash. I've been cooking both the fish and veggies in bulk to reuse for a few days.
So I’ve been keeping it healthy, and primarily vegetarian - But I'm not overcomplicating things! No meal takes more than 15 minutes to prepare. Simplicity is best these days; hoping my approach helps you!
Since losing 90 pounds, 14 years ago, Tameika Gentles has devoted her time to helping others activate the inner strength and fulfillment she has found on her health journey. The Canadian-born certified personal trainer turned international wellness entrepreneur is the Co-Founder of The Whole Experience – a platform dedicated to helping women create a sustainable healthy lifestyle while building community. Through The Whole Experience, she has reached and served over 1,300 women with her transformational coaching program, Project: YOU and has brought together almost 100 women in six countries, across four continents through her global retreats. As an advocate for inner and outer fitness, Tameika has been featured in Essence Magazine, HuffPost, Health Magazine, Eat Well, Muscle & Fitness and Yahoo! News. Follow Tameika on Instagram @TameikaG.