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Feeding your Emotions, NOT your Waistline

It is a vicious cycle. How many times have you found yourself indulging in a treat or mindlessly snacking on something sweet or fatty only to find yourself moments later regretting your actions and wishing you could go back in time and get a redo? And then to make matters worse, you beat yourself up over falling off your New Year’s resolution and comfort your guilt only by snacking some more…Well, you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone!

Emotional eating, which is the term used to describe this addictive cycle, has very little to do with food. It is about your emotions and how your mind and body are processing them. Experts estimate that as many as 75% of all overeating and weight gain can be attributed to emotional eating. Learning how to take better care of your emotions can go a long way in helping you take better care of your physical health and overall well being.

Here are some steps you can take to put a stop to your emotional eating:

STEP ONE: Identify Your Triggers
Awareness and recognition as to when you are eating your emotions is key. One way to be able to spot the situations or events that cause you to overeat is to keep a food diary or journal. Write down everything you are eating, when you are eating it, what you are feeling right before you eat, and what you are feeling immediately afterwards. Are you stressed out at work? Did you just have an argument with your spouse? Are you bored? Be HONEST and don’t lie to yourself! By writing down your own truth, you will be able to look back on this journal and hopefully see some patterns. Maybe you are even someone who eats more when you are happy and feed yourself as a reward, but then you find yourself upset and guilty post-reward. Isn’t that silly then that your reward ends up becoming a punishment? You may also have more than one trigger – start a list so you can find your weaknesses and work on alternatives to avoid them!

STEP TWO: Hold Yourself Accountable
Ask yourself before you reach for the fridge, are you actually hungry or this just a craving? Make yourself take some time to think and honestly answer that question before you inhale your food. If you are hungry and truly in need of fuel for your body, the idea of eating a healthy snack should appeal to you as much as junk food. If you are having a craving, then you might automatically dismiss the healthy food in favor of the tasty snack. Can you wait a half hour to an hour to eat, or must you eat now, now, NOW? If your answer is the latter, chances are you are experiencing a craving and the need to comfort your emotions immediately, which is not true hunger. If you are really hungry, you can usually delay or ignore it for a little bit of time. Try waiting a half hour and ask yourself the same question again. Make yourself be accountable to your eating choices. You may find that the simple step of accountability is enough to make you think through your action from a more rational and grounded mindset.

STEP THREE: Find Alternative Activities that are GOOD for You
Perhaps you are eating when you are bored or stuffing your face when you are angry…why not find a different way to release and soothe those emotions? How about a hobby or physical activity to take your mind off your troubles? Going for a run, hike, or walk is a great way to let out some steam, get in touch with Mother Nature, and nourish your emotions. Singing and dancing can free your mind from the stressful events and work in your life. Even knitting or drawing can take you to a rewarding place where you don’t need to feed your body with junk and extra calories. You don’t necessarily have to be exercising for hours on end to find a replacement for food. There are many spiritually and physically healthy ways to move your body, release some of those good endorphins, eliminate those cravings, and bring you inner peace all at the same time. And you will find that at the end of your activity, instead of the guilt and self-loathing you get from emotional eating, you will be full of self-respect and accomplishment. Yay, you!

STEP FOUR: Relax your Mind
If overeating is a way you numb yourself from all the stresses in your life, you may be in desperate need of some quiet “me” time! Take time out of your day, everyday, to check-in with yourself and do daily meditations. Sometimes just being able to have that solitude and introspection is enough to be able to see the rest of your day with more clarity. You will be more connected to your higher self and a greater consciousness and be able to make better decisions and handle your stressful situations in a much calmer manner.

STEP FIVE: Treat Yourself!
Sometimes that Sprinkles Cupcake or Häagen Dazs ice cream really is worth the fat and calories! It’s okay to let yourself have junky food every now and then, but the importance of it is to NOT beat yourself up for doing so! Make it part of your “plan” to allow yourself some sweets and junk, and get rid of that horrible guilt you like to pile up on yourself afterwards! And if you do slip up and find yourself mindlessly eating to numb your feelings, acknowledge where you are, what caused it, and move forward by forgiving yourself. There is absolutely no reason to continue or enforce a brutal cycle!

Take these steps to heart, and you will find yourself taking better care of your emotional health. Feed your emotional appetite with happiness, care, and love. It will taste so much better! Bon Appetit!

Want to read more about emotional eating and weight? Check out more information at: https://deborahking.com/topics/weight/

Deborah King