Let’s face it, we don’t always eat to simply satisfy our hunger. A lot of times, we will turn to food for comfort, stress relief or even as a reward. If you have ever done this, then you have experienced emotional eating.
And the crappy thing is, emotional eating never solves the problem, it usually makes it worse! When you’re done, the original emotional issue still remains, but you also feel guilty for overeating and consuming so many empty calories.
Let’s say you have some family issues going on or you have a fight with your spouse. You’re feeling upset, so you dive into a huge bowl of ice cream or chips. Chances are, the food you just ate isn’t going to mend your broken relationship or prove your point to your significant other. Actually, it will most likely make you feel even worse as feelings of guilt set in or the next time you step on the scale. Worst of all, you haven’t solved anything and just wasted a bunch of time.
Now, using food from time to time as a reward or to celebrate isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when food is your primary coping mechanism – when you open the fridge every time you feel sad, stressed, lonely, bored or tired – you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle and never learn how to properly or constructively deal with your emotions.
In order for you to control emotional eating, it is imperative that you identify the situations, events, people, and feelings that trigger your emotional eating episodes. This is usually not too difficult when you think about the circumstances that typically surrounded your emotional eating episodes.
Is it after an argument with your spouse?
Is it when you are bored or depressed?
Is it after a rough day at work?
Perhaps it’s after speaking to a loved one you haven’t seen or heard from in a long time.
Once you identify these triggers, you will begin to see patterns and you can find alternative ways of dealing with these feeling that do not involve food. Write a response to the following situations.
I tend to eat emotionally in the following situations:
I tend to eat emotionally in the presence of…
I tend to eat emotionally when I feel:
I eat emotionally as a way of…
Once you’ve identified the situations, feelings, and events that trigger your emotional eating, it is crucial that you have alternative ways of dealing with these emotions that do not involve food. In the exercise below, identify at least 3 alternate actions you will take when you are feeling the emotions listed below. An example has been given for each category.
Instead of eating when I’m bored I will:
1. Listen to my favorite CD and dance like a maniac
Instead of eating when I’m sad I will:
1. Call a friend who makes me laugh
Instead of eating when I’m lonely I will:
1. Go to the gym
Instead of eating when I’m stressed I will:
1. Go for a long walk and listen to my favorite music
Instead of eating when I’m angry:
1. Journal my feelings
This is a place where exercise can be an extremely effective strategy and Forever Fit SCV can help! Exercise is, hands down, the most effective emotional outlet you will ever find. It is an amazing stress reliever since it allows you to clear your head and get out energy in a positive way!
A few months back, my son came down with a virus that gave him painful leg cramps and he was unable to walk for days. We didn’t know what was going on for a few days and I was stressed, scared, worried and tired all at the same time. We had to take him to the doctor for daily blood work as our doctor tried to figure out what was wrong and if you have ever had to take a four year old for any kind of shot or blood work, you know that it can be quite stressful.
So everyday I would grab a battling rope and do some slams, grappler’s hip tosses and any other power exercise I could think of to get my emotions out. I remember being on the brink of crying during a set as everything came flowing out. But it was constructive, a way for me to let it all come out without negatively affecting my body or others.
To quote G.I Joe, one of my favorite childhood TV shows, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!” If you know that you have an emotional eating problem, you are halfway to dealing with the problem. Take a few minutes to do the exercise above and come up with your own strategies. In the end, you will be happy that you did!
The next time ‘life’ gets you down, you will know how to deal with it constructively and effectively!
KEEP MAKIN’ CHANGES!