In my last blog post I shared the roots of emotional eating so we could gain a better understanding in order to break some unhealthy patterns we see that are connected to the harmful behavior. In this post, you're going to learn how to courageously face this habit head-on, applying both practical and powerful tools as soon as today to avert this obstacle on your weight loss journey.
Let's learn how...
Understand your triggers. Prevent them. Deal with them...
· Don’t neglect your primary foods! These are the things, activities, people, and relationships that nourish our mind, spirit, soul, and even body. Primary foods are true “soul foods,” not what you put in your mouth. When our lives are out of balance, our bodies and minds will begin speaking loudly to us. We need the wisdom and understanding to really listen to ourselves, reflect on where we’re lacking, and restore that balance. When your primary foods aren’t meeting your needs, you’ll turn to secondary foods (what you eat) for that nourishment and usually through emotional eating.
· Get enough sleep! Did you know that when you’re sleep-deprived your appetite increases by 23%? And of the food choices you make, studies show that most people reach for sweet, salty, and fattening foods.
· Don’t run yourself ragged without resting. I can’t emphasize the importance of balance enough. When we’re constantly pushing ourselves without any down time, we get in a state of chronic fatigue, which can cause a whole cascade of hormonal issues but certainly pushes us to emotional eating. When exhausted, you’re just asking for trouble, anywhere from cravings, to emotional eating, to food addictions, and all kinds of other feelings and emotions that flood you. There will always be times we have to push through to get something important done or more hectic times in our lives, but the key is finding that equal and opposite balance of calm, rest, relaxation, peace, and joy.
· Manage your stress levels. Chronic stress depletes our energy stores and can increase our appetite due to the production of the hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol production is also responsible for excess belly fat. On the other hand, acute stress can sometimes cause a reduced appetite, which can be equally as harmful (really depends on the individual). Too much unchecked stress isn’t good either way.
· Stay well and keep those around you well. When you feel that you’ve got some form of sickness coming on, stop and listen to your body. That’s the best way to prevent it from going any further. Just rest. It does wonders for the body when we can allow it time to heal and recover. That means you might have to cancel things on your schedule, but can those things really be more important than your health? Usually not.
· It can be stressful when someone you know isn’t well, which can also lead you down a path of emotional eating, but that’s why it’s important you talk about your feelings and understand that your anxiety and worry won’t change the situation. If you believe in God, pray for strength to cope with the situation and trust it will be given to you.
***Get Your FREE
· When our moods that are driven by our mental states are unstable, we often turn to food to cope. That could be due to depression, anxiety, OCD, and many other issues. It’s important you deal with these issues instead of turning to food to avoid addressing them. There are professionals who can help you in this area. Let someone know what you’re going through and ask for help. I have good news for you when it comes to your mental health: regardless of your genes or family history, you can improve your mental health by improving the health of your gut. There are so many studies that show the connection of our guts and brains. And when we’re eating toxic foods and don’t have enough good bacteria in our gut flora, we start to see recurring problems with our mental health and cognition.
· The biggest takeaway with emotions and feelings is not to ignore them. We use emotional eating as a tactic to stuff down our feelings instead of dealing with them, so it becomes a vicious cycle of eating when we’re not hungry just to quiet our own emotions that need to be addressed. If you don’t feel you have the strength to address them on your own, reach out for help. Sometimes you just need to talk it out with someone who will listen objectively and offer support without judgment.
· Accept your emotions as neither good nor bad. The emotions themselves aren’t what matters as much as how we deal with them that makes them good or bad. While your feelings might not be optional, you can always choose your behaviors. The following exercises can help you to improve your behaviors with practice.
Healing Through Mental Practices…
Behavioral Rehearsal: Recall a memory of a potentially difﬁcult emotional experience. Do alternative activities (rather than eating). The theory is that remembered emotions are very strong stimuli and that it’s possible to turn to another behavior instead of eating.
Visualize: Think into the future and imagine what you’ll do when you have strong emotions. Think of every detail.
Behavioral Rehearsal and Visualization: Sit down in a quiet place and think about the most difﬁcult emotional situation you experienced in the last 2 weeks. Imagine the sites, smells, sounds – all the details possible to put you back into that place. Now imagine the difﬁcult situation and emotions you were dealing with. Once emotions are triggered: Open your eyes, get up, and do something other than eating to cope with the uncomfortable emotions. (Read, do a hobby, call a friend, etc.) This will prove to yourself that you can deal with these emotions!
Visualization: Imagine the same stressful example from the last exercise. Instead of reaching for comfort foods as you likely did the ﬁrst time, mentally rehearse an alternative action to cope, like taking a walk or a bath. Imagine it speciﬁc in detail. That will give you ideas when you face similar situations in the future.
***Don't forget about the "happy emotions!" If you're one who tends to throw caution to the wind and "celebrate" with junk food, even if you're not hungry, stop right now and make a list of alternative ways to bask in those feel-good emotions to relish the moment and enjoy it without sabotaging your health.
Those are just a few exercises you can walk through yourself, but it can be helpful to talk through your issues with a coach. Coaches can ask you questions about your line of thinking to understand if it’s helpful or harmful. Sometimes we just have to change the way we view things in order to respond differently and have a better outcome. Sometimes we need to briefly visit the past, in a safe place, to gain understanding then move on to the present to make changes for the future. Of course, some issues cannot be handled by a coach and will need a counselor or therapist involved. If you’re interested in working with me one on one, we can discuss your concerns so I can know whether or not it is something within my scope of training and coaching.
Create a Safe & Healthy Space for Yourself
You’re only asking for trouble if there is temptation all around you. Create a firm foundation with a support system of your family and friends. Let them know what your goals are and what you’re struggling with. Ask them to become involved and help you so you can be a better family member and friend. The actionable items within your environment include:
· Cleaning junk out of your freezer, refrigerator, and pantry
· Steering clear of places where you went for comforting foods. You might need to change your routes in order to avoid them at first.
· Removing yourself from other people’s lives for a limited period of time until you become stronger. This could be people who participate in activities you know to be harmful to yourself and people who stir up strong emotional responses within you.
· Not grocery shopping when you’re hungry and staying on the parameters of the store where most of the real food is. What’s in the middle is usually junk and processed foods you don’t need.
· Avoiding someone’s desk at work if you know you always used to eat their candy. Ask them to stop by your desk or better yet, ask them to take a walk outside with you.
You will have to try what works for you and seek the professional advice of a practitioner for proper dosing as well. Please let me know if you need a good source for these supplements. I personally recommend both Designs For Health and Thorne and can place an order for you if you wish.
• NADH (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Hydride)
• Vitamin B-6
• Ginkgo Biloba
• St. John's Wort
• Acetyl-l Carnitine
• SAMe (S-adenosyl-L-methionine)
Please post a comment below with any questions or thoughts on this topic. As you use the roadmap I'd love to know how you're progressing through the phases, so come back and leave a comment after you try it out for a couple of weeks! As always, reach out for any additional support you're seeking in this or other health-related areas; I'm glad to help!