Erase Emotional Eating
First, let me share that I am a recovering emotional eater (click the link for more help with food addictions). This is why I feel I can share these tips to help you overcome the cycle and have a better relationship with food. I use to turn to food for comfort, especially fatty foods like cheesy pastas or ice cream. It was how I use to deal with feelings of loneliness, depression, anger, or anxious stress. I found that my relationship with food was abusive. I would eat until the point of discomfort because I just wanted to feel different than the emotions I was combating. I would eat and think "this will make me happy." How I felt afterward was the complete opposite. How I felt was ruined. I felt "fat," "guilty," "ashamed," "unloved," "gross," and "weak." My internal dialogue was horrible. I bullied myself.
How did I get out of this cycle? I learned the practice of intention and self-love. First, yoga and meditation helped me to be with myself and not my thoughts. After that, exercise and dance groups helped me to move forward and enjoy my body. Finally, body-building helped me to be disciplined and see my full strength; both internally and externally. Within all of these practices and communities I learned about self-worth. I also educated myself about food and the human body. My personal choices gave me strategies to deal with emotions in a more positive way. Now, I am not telling you to do the activities that I did, but I will list the steps that I still turn to today when I get those emotional eating pangs. I do get the urge to respond to emotion with food now and then, but I never let it catch me because I know I'm worth more. Here are 8 ways to erase emotional eating.
- Drink a large glass of water (add lemon if available for detoxification principles). Often times we aren't hungry, we are actually dehydrated. Drink water, wait 5-10 minutes and see how you feel. I bet you'll feel refreshed.
- Go for a walk or go workout. I swear by number one and this step HANDS-DOWN! Movement gets the body moving forward-not stuck in the past. Movement, even if only for 10 moderate to vigorous minutes, gets fresh oxygen in the blood, which helps to clear the mind. Exercise releases "feel good" chemicals, too. Trust me, this will change your mood and you'll forget you are hungry.
- Meditate or stretch (yoga or general stretching). Let yourself just be. Sit in a quiet space. Set a timer for at least 10 minutes. Close your ideas and just feel your breath coming in and out of your nostrils. Feel your belly and ribs expand with every inhale. Notice tension leaving as your shoulders soften with every exhale. Just feel your body. Let yourself be quiet.
- Do Tasks, like chores: laundry, yard work, or organize a space in your home. When we involve ourselves in tasks our mind gets distracted from the thoughts or feelings prior. We gain a new focal point. We get in the present. Afterward, you'll feel accomplished and good about your productiveness.
- Write! Writing is a great way to get your mind off food. Write about your feelings in a journal. You can send an email, letter, or card to a loved one.
- Talk to a supportive friend or family member. You are probably dealing with some internal dialogue that just needs a sounding board. Our loved ones are a great resource to help us process. Plus, your mouth will be busy talking and not eating.
- Listen to upbeat music, read, or watch a comedy. All three of these suggestions provide pleasure and distraction. Music might make you want to move and smile. Reading is relaxing and distracting. Comedies makes us laugh and giggle. Try them out and see your mood pick up.
- Eat veggies! If steps 1-7 don't work then eat greens. Veggies are basically free with any diet plan. Besides, greens make your skin more radiant, and who doesn't want better skin? Veggies won't make you feel guilty. If anything, you'll feel more healthy and empowered by your food choices.
I recommend trying out all of these, especially numbers one and two. Hydration is generally what we need, not pizza. And of course, exercise is fundamental to a healthy mind, body and spirit. Please be kind to yourself, too. Check-in with your hunger or cravings and your emotions. Here's how to tell if you're physically hungry or having an emotional response. If you're physically hungry: eat. If you're just having emotional hunger try my steps. Check out this chart to help you recognize your food relationship. Please contact me if you want support with emotional eating. In addition, I have found that meal prepping and meal plans have been one of my saving graces.