Have you tried to lose weight, had some success only to end up right where you started? Eating right and getting exercise are part of the weight loss program, but you may be missing the secret ingredient to real weight loss success. Today we are going to share the secret to reign in that elephant in the room, EMOTIONAL EATING. How to recognize it and what to do instead.
What is Emotional Eating?
It’s 8:30 p.m., the kids are in bed, dinner is over, and you have cleaned up, lunches are ready for tomorrow, you’ve worked all day, and you’re exhausted.
There is laundry waiting for you in the laundry room, and there is a funny smell coming from the bathroom. The chores are begging to be done, and you have no energy to do them. You decide to take a break and sit down to watch TV with a bowl of ice cream and a package of cookies.
This is just one example of emotional eating. Who hasn’t heard of “comfort food”? That’s why it’s there, right? You COULD treat food as something to comfort you, OR you could treat food as nourishment, fuel for your mind and body, not as something that makes you feel better. In the end, food consumed as an emotional response only feels good for a little while – there are no long-term benefits. So how do you stop the hand-in-the-cookie-jar reflex?
There are two steps:
The first step is to recognize or acknowledge when it happens when your hand is in the cookie jar so to speak.
When you stop at that moment, ask yourself. What am I feeling right now? WHY am I for reaching for this food? What am I hoping it can do for me?
By stopping and taking a moment, you are turning off the ‘auto-pilot’ of your emotional response, and changing it from a reaction to a choice. So the goal is to make a real-time decision, to be present and in charge of what we feel.
Reprogramming Your Mind
Now that we have brought awareness to your response, it’s time to re-program your response to stress. As with any habit – this takes time so be patient and if you slip, don’t beat yourself up, it’s part of the process.
Replacing behavior with something positive:
When you are at that moment where you have stopped to ask yourself why you are reaching for food – take that break as an opportunity to turn a different direction. Walk away from the kitchen or leave the drive-thru. You need to redirect that energy, that emotion. What do you do instead? Here are some options:
- Drink a whole glass of water.
- Do something physical: clean, fold laundry, hop on the treadmill, punch an imaginary punching bag, take a walk, run up and down the stairs for 5 minutes.
- Leave the kitchen. Tell yourself it is closed for the night and that you can’t get in until morning.
- Write it down. Write what you feel, why you are feeling it – get it out
- Call a friend – tell them what you are feeling, make yourself accountable to someone.
Every time you INTERRUPT that emotional response and make a CHOICE to do something different, you are reprogramming your mind to respond to stress in a different way.
Being on a diet is stressful, no doubt about it. Managing the emotions that arise during the process can be overwhelming. The very idea of having to CHOOSE instead of RESPOND is HARD. Stress releases the hormone cortisol, which increases your cravings and can lead to weight gain. Learning to love yourself is part of the stress management.
- Give yourself a special treat- not related to food; Go to the spa, buy a shirt, go on a hike or a trip, visit a museum or go to a concert, watch a funny movie, call a friend.
- Breathe. If you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious- like maybe this is too hard; take 5 minutes and breathe. Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathing slowly will calm your nervous system. The time spent breathing will also give you perspective and allow you to make a CHOICE rather than an emotional response.
TAKEAWAY: Stop. Ask. Re-direct.
You can do it! Share your experiences in the comments and let’s encourage each other.
If you’re interested in jump-starting you health in 2017. Join us for the 14 Day Whole Food Challenge. The challenge starts on January 2, 2017!