Do you ever use food to cope with your emotions? Reach for a bag of chips, chocolate bar or a box of cookies to cope with uncomfortable feelings?
“You are not alone. Emotional Eating effects a large number of people and often is a precursor to many serious health issues such as obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, anxiety and depression. With that, I believe that it’s very important to talk about this issue. This way you can start to recognize the early signs of emotional eating and nip it in the butt before it spirals out of control.”
Emotional Eating Sucks
For many, food doesn’t serve only as source of nourishment. It has also become a coping mechanism. Food can be an illusion of safety, comfort and relief. Don’t believe me? Just look around. The world we live in today has more overweight people then ever before. And I believe that emotional eating is one of the primary factors that leads to obesity.
Food – Nourishment or a Drug?
We don’t often think of food as a drug. Perhaps due to the fact that we need it to live. Also food is available everywhere, at anytime and it’s socially acceptable. Yet food can also be very addicting and potentially lead to harmful effects. Physical as well as emotional. In America alone, 13 people die every hour from food-related illnesses!
“I honestly believe that Food, in our western culture is the most abused drug.”
You can break that cycle.
“For many years I personally had a complicated relationship with food. First, in my early teenage years – when I began to experience the “imperfections” of life. Things were changing rather quickly, life was all of a sudden challenging and I felt like things were out of control. The only thing that I felt I could control, was food. Then later in my twenties I used food as temporary distractions from feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in life. I would reach for food anytime I felt sad, alone, anxious or stressed. This created a very unhealthy and deeply rooted cycle that took several years to repair. Today I want to share with you the steps that ultimately helped me take control of my unhealthy habits and free myself from the emotional eating rollar coaster. If emotional eating is holding you back from having the body you want and most importantly from the health you need than read on.”
Perhaps what I have leaned over the years will inspire you to take action, create a healthy shift in your actions and put an end to emotional eating for good.
6 STEPS TO OVERCOME EMOTIONAL EATING FOR GOOD
STEP 1: FIND YOUR PURPOSE
We are goal oriented beings. We thrive the most when we have a strong reason to live. If such reason doesn’t exist or is unclear we feel lost, unfulfilled or bored and often seek comfort in outside sources. Knowing and then living our life’s purpose gives us direction and therefore is the most crucial step on this path. Find out what drives you and fulfils you. This way you will have a reason to break your unhealthy habits. You will be inspired to get up every morning and make better choices; with better daily choices, you will see better daily results.
STEP 2: EAT A CLEAN HEALTHY DIET
I know this has become our answer for pretty much everything, but it really is that important! Eating highly nutritious, clean plant based foods will nourish your body and supply it with beneficial vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Replace your unhealthy foods with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Soon enough your cravings for junk food will disappear and you will start to notice some pretty awesome changes. And I am not talking only about the physical body (weight loss, more energy, healthier skin, etc) but also internally, you will feel stronger due to a healthier self image and self worth. Those are very important elements of conquering emotional eating once and for all.
STEP 3: CULTIVATE AWARENESS
“I am far from perfect. I still have days when I am drawn to food for comfort – when I feel sad, depressed or anxious. The difference is that today I am able to recognize those triggers and stop myself from making decisions that I might regret later. Start by observing your thoughts that arise around food.”
Why do you feel like eating, and what emotions or needs might be triggering the need for food? Once you become aware of these you are able to start to recognize self-sabotaging habits.
STEP 4: SAY GRACE
Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools available to anyone. Before each meal, no matter how small and no matter where you are – take a moment, pause and connect. Recognize and appreciate the food that is in front of you. It doesn’t always have to be verbalized, it could be as simple as taking 5-10 deep breaths and being thankful for your food that is nourishing your body and giving you strength.
STEP 5: DO THE THINGS THAT BRING YOU JOY
What excites you? Who motivates you? Write those things down. If food is your typical way to cope with emotions, you have got to find a healthier alternative for relief. An activity you can turn to instead. Go for a walk in nature, play your guitar or chat with a supportive friend.
When considering a new coping strategy, ask yourself these two questions:
“Will doing this make me feel better or worse right now? ” and
“Will doing this make me feel better or worse tomorrow?”
The right choice will aways be the one that you answer “better” to in both cases.
STEP 6: REPEAT DAILY!
A habit is not formed overnight. On average it takes 66 days to create a new pattern and form a new routine. Review the above steps often and check in with yourself. Remember that what you do every day matters so much more than what you do once a quarter. Be honest and recognize your challenges. Learn from them and don’t forget to also be patient and kind to yourself by celebrating your victories. Stay consistent. Do not stop.
Implementing these steps takes practice. No doubt you will have to step outside of your comfort zone. However if you follow through, not only will you stop eating emotionally, but you’ll also learn to appreciate food, create a sense of freedom and start to enjoy food and mostly your life in a whole new way.
Dedicated to your health and well-being,
PS. This isn’t a comprehensive list, but it is a very good start. By implementing the 6 described steps above you will learn to cope with your emotions – without food. During your journey you might find other ways that work for you. Please feel free to share them in the comments below.