4 Simple Steps To Beat Emotional Eating
Here’s a typical scenario from my life (and many of my clients):
I walk in the door after a long day at work…
Drop the bags on the floor, and head straight for the kitchen….
And what do I eat?
Whatever I want!
Which to be honest, ends up being a whole bunch of JUNK FOOD.
While I’m eating I feel great, but about 5 minutes later?
Here’s comes the guilt trip…
I just demolished a whole bunch of unhealthy junk food after promising myself I’m going to start eating healthy.
And the big questions is… why?
Why did I do that, after promising myself I wouldn’t?
When it comes down to it, there are a few reasons:
Eating whatever I want has become a “feel good habit” (at least for the short term).
When I get home from a long day of adulting it’s the easy thing to do
I had a productive day and wanted a reward
I was at home, hungry for quick food, and so I ate!
Eating food naturally gives you an immediate release of endorphins.
You know – endorphins – the feel good sensations.
That’s why it’s so easy to use EATING to make yourself feel better or satisfy emotional needs.
This is known as Emotional Eating, and on some level we all experience it.
Emotional Eating is a super effective brain trick to feel happy when you are sad, calm your nerves, or fill a void.
Hey, I’ve been there too and that temporary relief feels good… BUT –
…it can quickly turn into a vicious cycle.
And it clearly isn’t doing any good for your body, health, or fitness routine.
Here’s another real life scenario:
I get home from work, stressed out and trying to avoid anything productive (hello netflix!). Since I’m upset, I’m looking for something to help me feel better. Like…say… JUNK FOOD! So I chow down on spoonfuls of peanut butter, which feels good while I’m doing it until Guilt Trip Round 1 sets in. Now I feel even worse, so (wouldn’t you know it) I decide to eat EVEN MORE to feel better…. …and after that big bowl of ice cream is gone, Guilt Trip Round 2 sets in, and I feel even worse! See the vicious cycle taking place?
The trigger is often stress, and it can come from all kinds of places:
Your boss yells at you or you have a disagreement with a coworker and now you’re stressed out and upset
You run into heavy traffic on your way home, and now you’re running late to pick up the kids
The house is a mess, you’re tired, and you don’t feel like cooking a healthy meal…
That stress triggers the desire to eat (and feel better – at least temporarily), so you reach for some readily available junk food or takeout.
The long term side effect of these stress habits is that they make it really hard to lose weight, or even maintain a healthy weight.
When I see myself or my clients struggling with emotional eating, I know it’s time to make a change.
Here’s 4 simple steps you can use to defeat the Emotional Eating Beast:
1. Realization– I had to realize I was eating to soothe and suppress emotions.—My coach asked me if I was Emotionally Eating and I gave him a flat out no! Then over the next week I realized, “Holy cannoli, I am eating to relieve the stress and almost everyday!”
2. Use A Checklist– I created a task list to complete before I allowed myself to eat—For me, I ate emotionally when I got home from work, so everyday after work, I made myself drink a glass of water, pack my work/gym bag for the next day, take the dogs out, and sit in silence and breathe for 10 minutes. I had to do all of this before I was “allowed” to eat. It helped, usually by the time I was done, I was much calmer and wasn’t facing the strong cravings. I was able to distinguish, “Am I hungry or is this food my way of stuffing my emotions?”
3. Try Substitution– I learned certain emotions can be relieved in specific ways: If I was bored I would read, watch a funny movie, go outside, or clean(because I enjoy cleaning) If I was depressed or lonely I would call someone or play with my dogs. If I was exhausted I would light candles, drink hot tea, relax on the couch If I was anxious I would go for a quick walk, listen to my favorite song and dance, anything to use up my extra energy
4. Find Support– I created a support system. I enlisted the help of those around me. Knowing I was trying to develop a new habit, when they saw me going for the fridge, they encouraged me to do otherwise.
However you go about it, it still comes down to self control and the choices that only you can make.
I’m not perfect, and I still find myself slipping into old ways every now and then.
But it is under my control to make the choice and be the person I want to be – and not be controlled by food.
You can make that choice as well!
Ready for the next step and looking for the support and accountability to help you get there?
I’d love to help you take the first step towards a healthier you!