Whether its a tub of Ben and Jerry’s a packet of TimTams or my personal fav: an entire carton of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes… if you’re an emotional eater you know how outta-control-irrational-your-NEED for that food can suddenly become.
It’s more than a matter of discipline. It’s like you’re fighting some deep, unrelenting desire that must be satisfied. It cannot be denied.
Today’s show is dedicated to my fellow emotional eaters.
To frame today’s show, I believe there are two types of eaters:
One: The person who eats for fuel.
Two: The emotional eater.
Although I do discuss food as fuel, I’m absolutely an emotional eater. I don’t believe this is something I can change however I and YOU can 100% ensure its not something that is detrimental to our body gain goal.
The two part approach I’ve used for years to successfully tame the emotional eating beast is to:
- Fortify my environment in advance. So basically this means my home is a clean eating sanctuary.
- Find non detrimental food options to emotionally eat when that feels like the only viable solution.
However, I recently heard of an awesome new approach. Credit to Jeanne Segal for opening my awareness to the potential to satisfy the emotional desire to fill ourselves with food with the other senses besides just taste.
First let’s clarify the distinction between physical and emotional hunger.
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly…. as suddenly as your boyfriends other girlfriend answering his mobile… and it will make you feel just as crazy-out-of-control as that other hateful situation AND it MUST be satisfied.
Conversely, physical hunger comes on gradually. You can actually ignore it for a bit. It’s not all-consuming. To satisfy real, physical hunger a variety of food options seem appealing, notjust your fav sweet, fatty, salty indulgence.
Most importantly, after eating to satisfy real physical hunger you are not racked with guilt and shame.
So let’s get into solution mode, how to put this info into practice to: Overcome Emotional Eating.
Step One: Is as always awareness. This is where you acknowledge whether you’re dealing with your bodies real need for fuel OR the irrational-emotional-eating-beast.
So to recap the beast signs: that desire came on fast. It’s insistent… basically stalking your thoughts. It’s irrational, only up for a frenzy of sugar, fat, salt or likely all 3… that beast is ready to rip something apart and it’s NOT tuna salad!
Step Two: Is to accept there’s nothing wrong with having emotions. In fact it’s good to experience a whole range of emotions and vital to connect with them and respond to them. Having said that there are obviously both detrimental and positive ways to respond to your emotions.
That’s why I like the emotional-eating-beast analogy. It’s perfect because it acts on reflex. Like fight or flight it’s an instinctual response at a basic, gut level… however the thing is, as Jeanne Segal states: your nervous system can be calmed and soothed by VARIOUS SENSORY STIMULATIONS. Not only taste.
It just so happens that the most practiced, the easiest, quickest and most habitual for a lot of us when we’re hit with nervous system overload or STRESS of any kind… is to turn to food.
It also just so happens that today even though arguably we live in the safest, most comfortable and advanced time ever our STRESS (while perhaps not life-threatening) is becoming more constant and more overwhelming.
We’re more stressed and live more in our heads…over-analizing what might have been yesterday… over-complicating what could be tomorrow and basically under-appreciating even under-experiecning what IS today.
Back to solution mode! The answer, is rather than try to on reflex block our emotions with quick-fast-UNfix-food, to instead stay connected to our emotions. Experience them. Learn from them. And use emotional understanding in our decision making process.
Step three: Is to find the alternatives that have the same benefits without the detrimental side effects of emotional eating. This is a no one size fits all step. Also you’ll need alternatives for all the different times in your week when that emotional-eating-beast tries to materialize. So to be clear you’re looking to find the solution that is soothing and calming that you can turn to instead of food.
At home. At work. In the car. With friends… your partner… your family. Wherever.
For example, by sense excluding taste perhaps:
=> TOUCH: soaking in a warm bubble bath / walking barefoot over grass, sand or maybe a thick woollen rug / patting an animal or hugging someone.
=> SMELL: aromatherapy oils or candles / fresh cut grass / an open fire / your favourite flowers.
=> SOUND: chatting to someone you love / listening to your fav song / the sound of the sea.
=> SIGHT: looking at your vision board / or a stunning natural landscape / or, am I weird? …I find walking into a book store extremely calming and soothing. As such a goal of mine is to have a house with an extensive calming wall-to-wall library.
Of course, I have to go there (!) although it’s not a sense, MOVEMENT can also be a fabulous solution to turn to instead of food. I know I’d find a rocking chair incredibly soothing – or a hammock – I’ll add them to my library!
And Yes, of course exercise rocks. Perhaps that walk barefoot along the sand, listening to the sound of the sea and drinking in the stunning scenery. That’s the ideal example for that ideal library with rocking chair and hammock life that likely isn’t possible at the drop of a hat however, there ARE a whole horde of options that are available to each of us.
To get actionable today, I’d love you to think of 3.
Three things to turn to at the most common times in your week in which you’ve previously had to try and fight the emotional-eating-beast with discipline alone.
So many quotes to end todays show with so I’m greedily choosing a selection… although: “Stressed IS Desserts spelled backwards” it’s also a backwards way to deal with it… to quote Peter De Vries “Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us” and of course “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now.”
That brings us to the end of todays show. I’ll be back tomorrow with the Tuesday Tucker show and: My Food Diary (part 2: An Ideal Fat Burning Day).
If you liked this you’ll also like: How You Can Eliminate Emotional Eating.
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