How is your relationship with food? Do you eat when you’re happy? How about when you’re sad? Bored? Tired? Lonely? Angry? Procrastinating? Do you sometimes have no idea why you’re even eating? Welcome to Emotional Eating (and the additional pounds it can pack on).
The biggest problem with emotional eating (besides the spare tire or saddlebags) is that you’re not dealing with the emotions you’re feeling. Dealing with those emotions can be scary and difficult. That’s because confronting them and dealing with them means change. Change means going outside of your comfort zones. And that can be scary.
We become so used to feeling a certain way and relying on our bad habits to cope. But eating to deal with the emotions ends up leading to feelings of guilt (“I can’t believe I ate that whole cake!”) and self-loathing (“I can’t believe how weak I am!”) and promises to try again (“I’ll start again on Monday”). But, those promises are empty as they come with no plan for success. So when Monday rolls around, you start off the day with great intentions (but no plan) and by lunchtime, you’re back to your old ways, which makes you feel bad/sad/angry and back to the candy jar for a pick-me up. We call this the Failure Cycle, as it keeps going around and around.
The first step to breaking out of the Failure Cycle is to confront the emotion – give it a name and own it. After that, make a concrete plan – one that is realistic and achievable. Then, put the plan into action. When you change your behavior and do something that’s part of the plan, acknowledge it – see it as a success and feel good about it. Notice how easy it was. That feeling of accomplishment will lead you to want to make more changes that will lead to more successes. You’re so used to feeling bad about what you’ve done, that it’s important to feel good about what you’re doing.
Do you know the difference between real hunger and emotional hunger?
- grows gradually
- any food will satisfy you
- you can wait it out a bit
- you stop when you’re full or almost full
- you feel good after eating
- you have energy
- hits suddenly
- crave a certain food (sweets, chips, etc.)
- you need it NOW!
- don’t feel satisfied
- you feel guilty or remorseful after eating
- you feel heavy
Instead of turning to food when you feel emotional, how about trying something else. We suggest something that’s either Distracting or Relaxing. The next time you feel like polishing off a pint of ice cream, try one of our suggestions and see if the feeling goes away.
Try it out and let us know what you do to battle emotional eating. What works for you? Share with us – we all will benefit.