We all do it. We’re feeling down and frustrated or even celebratory. The next thing you know, there’s a chocolate cake in our hands and it’s off to the races. So the question is, how can we circumvent the common practice of turning to food to deal with emotions?
One of the most important things I’ve learned in my own journey is that no matter how strong a craving or a compulsion is, it ALWAYS passes, and it doesn’t take too long. If you find yourself in a situation where you’re turning to a pint of ice cream because your emotions are too much to deal with, wait it out. You don’t really want the ice cream. You want an outlet for your emotions. It can be unbelievably uncomfortable for any of us to sit in our feelings, even if they are good feelings. Relax. Take a moment to close your eyes and do some deep breathing. You will get so much more out of that than you will from allowing yourself to give in to every compulsion.
2. Recognize Your Patterns
Those of us who eat emotionally are often well aware that we engage in the practice. But sometimes, we don’t understand our patterns. Often after a stretch of emotional eating, we look around and think “what just happened?”. The next time you reach for food in an emotional state, take a moment to recognize it. What happened? Are you sad? Angry? Frustrated? Happy? Believe it or not, those of us who experience emotional eating don’t always do it because we’re upset! Different folks have different triggers. By recognizing and acknowledging them, we are able to be proactive and treat ourselves with loving-kindness, gently guiding ourselves away from unhealthy behaviors.
3. Get a Buddy (or 2!)
So many things in life are easier when we don’t have to do them alone, and this is no exception. It’s really simple. Choose a friend or two who is supportive and loving who you can call when emotional eating tries to rear its head. It’s even better if you can create a mutual support group between a few folks, so that you can all count on each other for this. And then use that phone. The help and support of others who understand your situation is a balm to the soul like nothing else.
4. Don’t give up
Breaking patterns you’ve had for years is no easy task. The simple act of attempting it is brave. No one is perfect and what matters here is a willingness to try and then try again. Remember, as with anything: it’s not the falling down that’s important, it’s the getting back up. Be kind and gentle with yourself. Replace the emotional eating with something you love. For me, it’s often reading a book I love (or buying a new one!), getting a mani/pedi or taking a lovely bath. Don’t just take away the food…replace it with something healthy and loving. Here’s to your good health!