Emotional eating is a common denominator of most of us, the serial dieters, the ones who had tried almost every diet under the sun, successfully losing weight but haven't been able to keep it off. Addressing it with these simple strategies will help you not turn into food to cope with negative emotions and achieve your healthy eating and weight loss goals.
Most of you know that I recently changed career paths and I am now 100% dedicated to my online projects. I’ve been toying with the idea of starting this website for way too long, and no matter how many times I put it on my vision board or my goal’s spreadsheet, I didn’t take action. I made hundreds of excuses, but the main issue was: resistance
Resistance is a natural reaction, and I overcame it with hypnotherapy. Showing my brain that is okay to change paths, becoming aware of the blocks that didn't let me move forward and opening a communication line with my inner voice
But it wasn’t always that way.
One of the things I was doing to shut my inner voice up was eating, not just eating but binge eating. I could quickly go through half a big packet of chips without me realising it. In our first session, the hypnotherapist asked me if I listened to my inner voice, I replied: No, I shut it up with chips.
That was my first step
to realise that I was using food to deal with emotions, to make excuses, to procrastinate and to escape from a reality that was no longer serving my purpose.
Emotional Eaters find it hard to stick to a diet.
I’ve been an emotional eater all my life and even though I’ve been successful in my desires to lose weight and haven’t manage to keep it off long term.
I know what to eat, I know about portions, and I know about combining food and I know I’m most successful when I follow a well-designed meal plan but what I didn’t know is how hard is to stick to a diet when you are an emotional eater and that until I address it, I’ll be a serial dieter all my life.
Food was comforting because at least for those short minutes that the binge lasted I didn’t have to deal with any emotions. Keeping my mind occupied munching on those chips gave me a way to cope with the moment.
But sure, there is a healthier way to do it. Then I went into finding ways to break this emotional eating cycle and it is possible!!
90% of our reactions are formed in our subconscious, mostly from learnt past behaviours and because the binge eating happens so quickly, we may not have time to notice it may respond to certain triggers and follow a pattern or motifs. Becoming aware of this patterns and themes is an important step to get a clear idea of the contributors will help you find your own personal way to deal with struggles.
These questions will help you monitor your emotions and triggers. Keep them handy, maybe in the notes section of your phone. Remember that there are no right or wrong answers, the purpose of this exercise is to identify what lead you to the latest episode of emotional eating.
|What was happening that might have triggered that reaction?||What emotion was I feeling?||What were my thoughts at that moment?||What physical sensations was I feeling?|
Stop labelling food as good or bad.
Food is food, and all food is allowed, balance and moderation are recommended though. When we start thinking as a particular food as forbidden, like the chips in my case, our mind will focus on that specific food, and we will end up craving it. Resistance, ironically, will drive you to eat it and your brain will take it as you need it, but if you just look at food as neutral, not putting any limits or restrictions, there would be less of an issue with food cravings. Trust me on this one, it works!
Don’t eat unless you’re hungry
Yes, that’s a difficult one but learn to listen to your body and start recognising your body cues. You’ll soon begin to identify when you are hungry or when you just have the urge to eat due to emotions. When you have that urge, stop yourself on your tracks and drink a glass of water instead.
Once I read that when you feel like eating something and not knowing what you feel like it is a sign that you need to drink more water.
Check this post out on how water is essential in our lives and dehydration may lead to depression. I know, mind-blowing!
Cook and Eat Mindfully
Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of your thoughts, emotions and feelings. Eat mindfully means to be fully conscious of what you eat and the effects of the food on your body.
Show gratitude to the fact that you can cook with healthy ingredients and the food you are taking is nourishing your body. Being fully present at the moment of eating the food by noticing the colours, aromas, texture and carefully chewing each bite, tasting the different flavours.
This will also aid digestion because as Dr Victor R Benavides V, always says: “Digestion starts in your mouth.”
You are loved, you are worthy, you are safe. You got this, and you can change your habits. Start by saying positive and nicer things to yourself. How many times we have looked our reflection in the mirror and said “oh gosh! My bum looks too fat in these jeans”; sometimes we are too hard on the words we use to refer to ourselves, bringing us down and guess what, making us turn to food to cope with that sadness.
Showing kindness to yourself will increase your self-esteem, and you will start to make healthier choices.