There’s never been an election like this one and I say this as someone turning 70 next year. Feelings are high and emotional restraint is low. You can practically cut the political tension among families, friends, neighbors and co-workers with a knife. What a perfect time to turn to food to regulate your feelings. Or maybe there are better ways to manage your emotions and still enjoy a positive relationship with food.

There are a few reasons you might turn to food inappropriately when political hot buttons get pressed, whether yours or someone else’s. The first is to calm yourself down after a rousing debate that still has you reeling hours (or days) after it’s over. The second is to break internal tension if you’ve been holding in your sentiments and feel about ready to burst. Here are some emotional triggers that may come up for you regarding political disagreements:

Here are my suggestions (from an interview in the Sarasota Observer, 10/20/16, pp. 17-18, https://issuu.com/yourobserver.com/docs/sarasota_observer_10.20.16/c/smg6r40

and https://issuu.com/yourobserver.com/docs/sarasota_observer_10.20.16/c/smg6fq1) on how to approach talking about politics this electoral season:

Two crucial questions to ask yourself before even thinking about opening your mouth are: 1) “Why am I raising this subject or allowing myself to be lured into discussion about it, eg, to educate or give someone information because they’re open to it, because I love a rousing debate, because my friend/spouse/colleague and I always talk about politics and then agree to disagree? and 2) How will discussion affect my relationship eg, we’ll grow closer from sharing divergent opinions, it won’t have any impact, or whenever we get entangled in a political discussion, our relationship suffers?”

As to eating, during this time of political madness (and maybe for a while longer after

the election as well), ask yourself two vital questions every time you think you want to

eat: 1) Am I hungry enough to eat and, if so, is this really a food I want right now? and

2) If I’m not hungry, what am I feeling and how can I manage this feeling effectively.”

This way, you’re covered on both ends of the problem: emotions and eating.

And, please, because we live in a society in which we're able to vote, get out there and

cast your ballot if you haven't already.