2020 has been a B for sure, am I right? If you’ve struggled with emotional eating, eating out of boredom or any other type of eating challenge, 2020 and COVID-19 has been sure to test your emotional eating.
Moments when you’re feeling sad, angry, stressed, anxious, scared or all of the above because of things out of our control; emotions so strong and daunting that we seek comfort in food; we are overwhelmed with cravings of certain foods; we are seeking a quick “fix” to numb all the feels.
I hear ya, BB. But the problem is, is that once you eat to numb, the “high” is temporary, leaving as as immediate as was required for those nibbles to pass your lips.
You know what happens instead? You eat to numb the feeling, then you get more feelings because you become stressed and anxious of eating the thing. It’s a vicious cycle of eating to not feel and then feeling even MORE because you ate. It’s a shitty place to feel stuck in, isn’t it?
Over eating, binge eating, stress eating etc. is destructive. Period. And it’s only going to make you feel worse, but in that moment you just want something to give you immediate gratification.
Emotional eating is a REAL disease and you will not conquer this battle over night. In fact, it will probably take your life time to work and be comfortable with feelings, with emotions, with food… it’s getting to the real root of your emotional eating – way back when, where it stemmed from to really gain control over this seemingly impossible roller coaster ride. As you work toward balance, here is some insight that may help you navigate these murky waters:
Avoid trigger foods.
Whatever your weakness – cookies, potato chips, ice cream, cake – get in the habit of not having those foods stocked in your pantry or fridge. You can’t eat what you don’t have, right? When you go grocery shopping, steer clear of the junk food aisles and spend more time along the fringes of the store where the fresh meats and produce are. Avoid the candy shelves at every check out counter!
Have a support system.
When you’re feeling down, instead of reaching for junk food, reach for your phone and text a friend; a compassionate friend or relative who can help you work through your feelings. Even better, call that friend (imagine that) for an important one-on-one connection. Our #SwitchingGears group provides that very support you need!
Keep a journal.
I know, I know, you may HATE to food journal. With a perfectionist personality, it could actually hurt you more than it would help. However, it would definitely be beneficial to keep a food journal of some sort for a while. It helps you understand how much all those little extra bites here and there really add up. If you are a calorie counter, I recommend using My Fitness Pal. It allows you to save your favorite foods, meals, and even add recipes which makes tracking get easier the longer you use it. I’ve been logging on My Fitness Pal for over 1,000 days – yep – over 3 years! But, if you are better at writing down your feelings than sharing them aloud, create a digital journal or buy an old-school notebook and jot down whatever’s on your mind. You’ll probably find it’s incredibly therapeutic and will help you sort out what’s making you reach for unhealthy temptations.
The Emotional Eating Food Journal
It’s good to write down what you’re eating. It helps you stay focused and make better choices. Here’s a tracking sheet that you can use!
-Record the time of day.
-Write down everything you eat.
-Mark whether the food was for Nourishment (N), Fun (F), Mindless (M), or a Binge (B).
-In the notes column, record anything else you’d like to track such as thoughts, feelings, emotions, triggers, etc.
There is no judgment here, it’s simply tracking. You’ll probably find yourself automatically making better choices, but if you don’t, I have some other tools to share later in this series to help you overcome emotional eating and develop healthy habits.
Find healthy stress relievers.
There are ways to comfort and nurture yourself that aren’t food related. Do you have a hobby you love? Can you indulge in self-care like a bubble bath or our #SwitchingGears Challenge? Can you treat yourself to a little present that is within your budget? Is there a show you just love? Consider binge watching it and allowing yourself to just chill and veg out for a few hours. It doesn’t have to be the absolute healthiest activity as long as it isn’t self-destructive.
Engage in counter intuitive behaviors
There have been many studies that show people who try to quit an unhealthy behavior have better luck by engaging in the exact opposite behavior. So for example, if you smoke or you overeat, exercising is going to make you far less likely to want to light up or eat pizza. The healthy behavior encourages you to engage in more healthy behaviors, not sabotage the efforts you’ve made.
Exercise to reduce stress. If you’re physically fit, you’re more resistant to the effects of stress. Exercise causes chemical changes in the brain that reduce stress but, unfortunately, stress itself can prevent some people from taking steps, like exercising, that could make a difference in their mental and physical health. If your personal circumstances make it difficult for you to get to the gym or even do formal exercises at home, try to increase the amount of walking, gardening, cleaning and other lighter forms of movement and exercise you normally do from day to day.
So often we get stressed and feel overwhelmed about things that haven’t even happened yet. See if you can assess what’s worrying you and get proactive about the things you can. For example, if you’ve lost your job, can you update your resume, build a LinkedIn profile, sign up for unemployment, send out resumes etc? There are many things in life we can’t control, but taking control of the things we can helps us feel less stressed and less anxious. So while it seems overwhelming to take on, you will feel MUCH better when it’s done than you will after housing that whole box of cookies.
I talk to women every day who tell me “It’s been a struggle. I’m in a slump. I need to be using my free time better. I am getting so lazy and I have to get motivated again. I just don’t know how to begin or even where to start.” This is why I am so stoked to announce that my 30-day consistency challenge SwitchingGears is now open for enrollment!
Contact me today to learn how my proven 3M Method will allow you to break free from emotional eating, yo-yo dieting and extreme exercise once and for all!