Tips for Millennials to Combat Emotional Eating from The Millennial Nutritionist

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By: Melissa Schenkman, MPH, MSJ

The story below is a part of  YMyHealth’s Making a Healthy Office Comeback series. As more millennials return to the office or transition to hybrid work schedules in 2021 and 2022, we will be highlighting the concerns and health challenges Generation Y tells us they are facing and feature advice from millennial experts on how to maintain your healthy habits.

How well do you handle change? While those of us in our mid-20s, 30s, and now 40 have been confronted with having to make some pretty big adjustments in our millennial lives before the COVID-19 pandemic, life since March 2020 has presented an exceptionally frequent amount of change.

Next up for many of us: the holiday season and a return back to in-person working environments in 2022, if you’re not already on a hybrid schedule or back in the office full force.

The combination of stress from social gatherings centered around food, feeling the loss of loved ones from the pandemic or prior to that during the holiday season, having to keep up with COVID-19 pandemic precautions, and anticipating the unknown as you come in contact with more people in your daily life, for some will lead to emotional eating to cope.

Illa Garcia, MS, RD, LDN, is the owner and creator of The Millennial Nutritionist where she provides virtual nutrition coaching and weight loss programs.

After becoming more mindful of everything during the pandemic from washing our hands before we eat and wiping off take-out containers, to the quality and quantity of food we are putting in our bodies, it’s important for us to find ways to keep up our healthy eating and healthy ways to manage stress that do not involve food.

Illa Garcia, a nutritionist and dietician who works with millennial clients recommends three ways millennials should do just that:

#1 Consider Therapy

First and foremost, if working with a therapist is within your means, Garcia says, do that. It’s the big thing that can really help you combat emotional eating.

#2 Address It Nutritionally

Garcia tends to see people emotionally eating when they are trying to eat as few calories as possible or when people are trying to deprive themselves of food. However, when you learn that all food can be good for you and that if you eat it in moderation, it’s not as tempting, this removes the driver to emotionally eat.

For example, if you typically emotionally eat or overeat on cookies, try to work in a cookie once a day that way it takes the taboo off of it.

#3 Work on Figuring Out the Reason Why You Emotionally Eat

Garcia once had a client who would always eat a bunch of high-calorie food at the end of the night. It turns out that she did this because it became kind of a habit after a long day as eating these foods helped her to relax. So, they realized that all of this was about relaxing not the consuming of the food itself.

Together, Garcia and her client then took that realization and thought about “how can you relax without food?” They asked: “Can you take a bath? Can you watch a television show to relax?”

Understanding that really helps more than overeating does, Garcia said. And understanding the reason behind your emotional eating is what she would recommend you do if you find yourself in this situation trying to deal with stresses that come upon you this holiday season and as you are returning to the office full or part time.

For more tips on how to navigate the health challenges you may face returning to the office or starting hybrid work schedules, visit our Making a Healthy Office Comeback page and for more of Illa’s great tips, see her first and second blogs for advice on your healthy pandemic eating habits when returning to the office.

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