by Guest Ninja Beth Wittig
We’ve all been there. There is an emotional trigger and without even really thinking, suddenly you are eating. The first bite tastes great but then you barely taste anything. You may find you are eating with such ferocity, it actually hurts a bit going down but before you know it, you have polished off an entire loaf of bread, half a left-over apple pie, an entire bag of potato chips or a pint of ice-cream. To say you feel gross is putting it mildly but like many people, you may just say, “What the hell?” and keep on going. Might as well fall of the wagon hard if you are going to fall off, right? Might as well make the most of it?
Treats are awesome and should be a part of your life but not when they become your vehicle for comfort or self-destruction. This begs the question:
Are you choosing the treat or is the treat choosing you?
Over time, this type of unconscious stuffing not only leaves your emotions unresolved, but leaves you heavier, more lethargic and in a piss-poor relationship with your food. When we get in the habit of using food as a crutch not to feel, we may be unwittingly creating vicious cycles and a co-dependent relationship with food. Weight gain, disease and disordered eating are just a few of the repercussions. Oftentimes, this type of co-dependent relationship creates unbridled anxiety and feeds the beast of repressed emotion.
Do you recognize any of these patterns when it comes to your eating habits?
Well, here are some tips to start to deal and break these patterns for good.
1) NOTICE AND RECORD YOUR PATTERNS
Start to take note of WHEN you are making poor decisions. Food journaling is a wonderful tool. By recording your habits, you can start to notice the patterns in your choices. It seems like a small and trivial thing to do but it can be illuminating. A client chronicled her choices and was surprised to find that she mostly binged on pizza or fried foods when she missed her boyfriend or when she had been rejected from an acting project. Her emotional eating was tied in a tight knot to loneliness and rejection. By realizing this, she could start to pre-emptively deal with these situations by addressing ways to restructure her relationship and handle the emotional stress of rejection in her career.
2) FEEL YOUR EMOTIONS AND THEN RELEASE THEM
Bananas, right? Feel your emotions? Okay, this may seem obvious but sometimes it is easier said than done when the emotion at bay is less than desirable. Let’s say you find yourself reaching for a tube of Pringles but it doesn’t FEEL like a choice. It actually feels like the Pringles are choosing YOU. CLICK TO TWEET! Take the exact opposite action and close the cabinet door. Close your eyes. Breathe. Actually ask yourself, “What is this feeling? Where am I holding tension in my body right now? Breathe into the tension and simply allow yourself to feel what is going on. Is it anxiety? Is it loneliness? Rejection? Creative tension? If you can’t release it through laughing, crying or yelling a bit, then WRITE IT ON DOWN. Take a paper and start writing. Let it all spill out without judging, just stream of consciousness.
This is a triple-whammy, grand-slam hit here! Not only are you breaking the habit by actually physically interrupting the trajectory of your action but you are also releasing pent-up emotional energy AND creating an insane flow of feel good endorphins. You know how when you are angry, running or punching can feel damn good? Or how when you are really down and go to yoga, you might cry a bit as you start moving and breathing deeply? You release the tension that is formed from suppressing emotion. So, when in doubt, put your sneakers on, leave the house and start walking, jogging, or heading to practice at your yoga mat. Bonus—you are actually burning calories instead ingesting them.
4) CHOOSE PROTEIN
People don’t tend to binge on protein. Think about it. When you are stressed out, do you want to chow down on a turkey leg? Probably not. CLICK TO TWEET! You are much more likely to go for a starchy carb or sugar. These foods elevate blood sugar very quickly so for a few minutes, you are flying high until your blood sugar crashes. Stop the sugar and carb cravings immediately by changing it up with protein. Eat some sliced turkey, a hardboiled egg or Greek-yogurt with some stevia and cinnamon. Protein also contains the amino acids necessary to stabilize blood sugar.
5) KEEP EMO-BINGING FOOD OUT OF THE HOUSE
Just like you probably aren’t go to binge on protein, you probably aren’t going to binge on delicious and calming herbal teas either, or broth based soups (filling and calorically sparse), or green smoothies, veggies and fruit. Keep the crap out of the house! By crap, I mean sugary and starchy foods. I don’t care if it says organic, fat-free or low-carb on the package. Get it out! Whatever you tend to go for when you are down or anxious or angry, KEEP IT AWAY!
6) PRE-EMPT YOUR ANXIETY
Stress-eating can be one of the most difficult to navigate because stress can permeate almost any area of our lives. We can find it in our finances, our careers, our relationships, or our homes. Stress can be found pretty much anywhere we choose to find it. I emo-eat when I am anxious, nervous and fearful, when the adrenaline is pumping, the cold-sweats start, my heart starts pounding and it feels like I’m an actually in danger. I notice that I will eat anything I can find to calm myself down, to stop my hands from shaking, to stop the discomfort of this heightened sensation. If you can identify, start by taking note of the fear-based anxiety-inducing thoughts and journaling about them.
Start incorporating daily calming exercises to center yourself at the beginning of the day. It could be daily morning exercise, yoga, meditation, journaling, walking to the park with your dog and cup of coffee in the morning, listening to calming music as you get ready for work. COMMIT to these practices every day. Inner-calm is not a state of being but a practice, and it affects every aspect of our life. CLICK TO TWEET!
So, armed with these tools, we can all start to combat the hold emotional eating has on us. Start today. Start now. If you feel like you need additional help with emotional eating, the power is in the present. Sign up for one of my complimentary Breakthrough sessions to find out what may be standing in your way. Email [email protected].
Rock On and Be Well,
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