Honestly, it has been a rough couple of weeks for me back home in the 505 (That means New Mexico). I am hitting the "Oh, God, am I really stuck here for another 2 months?" period of the summer. All I really want is to be back on campus, 12 long hours away from my home here. As we college students hit this section of summer where we spend our days lusting after our college towns and our own spaces, some of us can hit that summer slump. Some of us might also pick up some unhealthy habits, and at least for me, it's food. So, I've taken it upon myself to research some ways to combat this feeling that some of us (*cough*cough* me) might be having, and this is what I found out about how to combat depressive eating habits.

Determine the Causes

cookie, chocolate
Jocelyn Hsu

For many people, eating became a comfort for us in our childhood; ironically being treated with ice cream after the dentist (which is what my parents did) or a cookie after falling and scraping your knee. That's why now, as adults, we turn to food when we aren't feeling 100%: because it made us feel better when we were kids and we want to feel taken care of.

There are three main reasons why we now need this comfort as adults according to Everyday Health. When life has gotten a whole bunch harder or when we feel sad, we pick up more serious depressive habits like overeating. The first one is a feeling I'm sure we are all familiar with: stress. 

Stress sucks, y'all, but it's something that most adults deal with at some point or another. According to a study done by the American Psychology Association in 2015, 45% of Millennials reported an increase in stress from 2014 to 2015, and two-fifths of adults reported eating unhealthy or overeating to cope with their stress. So, the point is, you're not alone.

Another factor that may be playing into your eating habits is boredom. I know this one comes into play for me because I am bored AF at home. When I am not working or sleeping, I'm laying around the house waiting for something to do. So, I find myself wandering into the kitchen seeing if something new appeared in the pantry from the last time I checked 5 minutes ago. 

Finally, the last factor may be due to habit. You start to not think about your meals because it has become a pattern in your life. Wake up, eat, work, eat, sleep. It's the curse of the schedule, but it's important to think about when you are eating, what you plan on making, and how it makes you feel.

cake, chocolate, cream
Jocelyn Hsu

Next time you prepare yourself a meal, really think about what you are feeling. Drink a tall glass of water and ask yourself some basic questions to determine if you're eating your emotions: Are you feeling more stressed than usual? Are you really hungry? Are you craving comfort food? Asking yourself these questions can help you figure out if you're eating because your body needs to eat or because your heart need it. Once you get to this step, if you determine that you're eating out of stress or boredom, try these alternatives instead to wait it out until your body is actually hungry. 

The Alternatives: When You're Not Actually Hungry

Alex Nadelman

If you're feeling lonely sad: Call someone who makes you happy! And if the person who makes you happiest isn't available to call, shoot some of your other friends a text saying "Thinking about you today! I hope all is well!" A small text like that is a great way to have a casual conversation with someone and get your mind off of whatever is making you lonely. Reminding yourself that people actually want to talk to you too is a great pull back to reality. I do this a lot (and that might be an explanation to some of my friends as to why I do this so often). 

If you're feeling nervous or anxious: Sweat it out, man! Physical activity is a great way to release endorphins and build confidence. This is especially helpful if you're feeling jittery. Just turn on your fave bop of the summer and dance away the initial anxiety! Plus, it's a great way to burn some calories to combat overeating from the previous weeks. This doesn't mean it's an excuse to eat more as a reward for working out, but it'll make you feel good about yourself! Handy dandy tip: try not to treat food as a reward. It'll only go downhill from there. 

If you're feeling bored: Entertain yourself with a funny book or pick up a new hobby! This summer, I've taken up reading again and a few other hobbies to learn, like piano or learning Spanish. It'll quench your thirst for something to do while also building a portfolio of cool skills you can whip out at parties. You know you've always wanted to be the cool guy who knew how to play something other than Heart and Soul. Look up tutorials on Youtube, or look into Duolingo, a free online language program. 

The Alternatives: When You Are Actually Hungry

herb, couscous, rice, vegetable
Nathalie Kent

There are also some practices you can take up when you're starting to feel the stomach monster yell at you. Try to not let your emotions guide your menu, but try to stick with healthier foods that will make you feel good on the inside. Stick with the basics: proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats (like avocados) while also getting enough vitamins and fiber. I know it sounds like a lot, so you can start simple. 

Start with cooking your own food. That way, you know exactly what and how much of the ingredient is going into the meal. Maybe mix it up with Pesto Couscous Salad or keep it comfy with Healthy Bell Pepper Pizzas!

fish, cheese, tomato, seafood, salad, pepper, vegetable
Sarah Silbiger

Stuff to Know

liquor, ice, alcohol, juice
Melissa Miller

Psychology Today has done a whole bunch of research on the correlation between diet and depression. There are foods that are natural antidepressants, and although these may be tempting, they can also be dangerous. There are also foods that are depressants. Try to moderate alcohol intake, processed foods, and caffeine. These tend in increase anxiety and depression in the long term due to depletion of serotonin, or one of those happy brain chemicals. 

So, as a replacement, try to eat food that promotes that happy brain chemical! It's an opportunity to try new things and increase well-being overall at the same time! Maybe try chickpeas, a core ingredient in hummus! There are a whole bunch of other foods to try too: almonds to prevent mood disorders, cod to decrease risk for depression, Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish to lower both mood swings and depression, and of course, dark chocolate to release endorphins. 

vegetable, hummus, bread
Christin Urso

Honestly, all you really need to know it that you are not alone in this feeling. Hell, I'm feeling it, so I wrote an article about it! It is also something that you can change if it is making you unhappy. There are many ways to combat depressive eating habits. All it takes is that little push to put someone of them in action. I believe in you!