Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to Recognize and Tackle Emotional Eating

Over my years of going through an emotional roller coaster dieting and dwelling on always wanting to loose weight, I'v realized that food isn't only used for nourishment of our body but can even have an emotional connection with us and also be used to fill emotional needs. We as humans use food to give us happiness, comfort, and a short term satisfaction and it's only leading us to sickness, obesity, and depression -- Which then only leads to even MORE voids to fill, guilt for eating bad, and guess what!?!? The problem is still there.  It's an everlasting whirl wind and it's hard to break these habits. I know this. Nothing about weight loss is easy or everyone would be doing it. There is no magic pill, quick fix, or magic lotion. Loosing weight takes hard work emotionally and physically.

Learning to recognize your emotional eating triggers is the VERY FIRST step to conquering and BREAKING FREE from food cravings, emotional eating, and binge eating. This is the first step in completely reversing your past attempts that sabotaged your dieting and healthy lifestyle, and be your BREAK THROUGH moment that will give you that ultimate success you have been wishing, dreaming, and waiting for.

Emotional eating is using food to bring happiness and instead of eating because you are hungry, you are eating to fill that emotional need!! If you have ever caught yourself with a box full of cookies, a bag of chips, a pint of ice cream, or a huge pizza when you are feeling sad or stressed -- You have experienced the DREDED EMOTIONAL EATING!

Enjoying your favorite foods from time to time isn't necessarily a bad thing if you can control it, it's a planned meal, and you limit it to once or twice a week. However, if you find yourself going in to the refrigerator every time you are stressed, bored, unhappy, sad, or lonely -- You are living in unhealthy habits that are never really addressing the real problem at hand. You are always sweeping it under the rug and turning to food that is only hurting you more.

Food can not fix our emotional issues and it is only going to leave you feeling guilty and powerless in the end. It may give you that short term satisfaction in the moment but once that moment is gone you are stuck back with your original issue and even more sadness and guilt from all the unnecessary calories consumed. In turn -- YOU BEAT YOURSELF UP! You tell yourself "you should of had more will power". This only makes the problem WORSE! You begin steering away from healthy ways to deal with your problems and emotions and turn to food for that comfort. This leaves you having a harder time controlling your weight and then makes YOU feel POWERLESS against both your WEIGHT and EMOTIONS!

Are you an Emotional Eater? 

Do you eat more when you are stressed? 
Do you eat when you're not hungry or when you're full? 
Do you eat to feel better? 
Do you reward yourself with food? 
Do you regularly eat until you stuff yourself? 
Does food make you feel safe? Do you feel like you have a friend in food? 
Do you feel powerless or out of  control around food? Are you able to say, NO? 

Now that you have realized that you are an EMOTIONAL EATER -- Next you must know the difference between being physically hungry and being emotionally hungry. This can be tough at first especially if you have been feeling food to fix your emotional needs for a long time. You no longer know the difference. Below are some tips on helping you recognize between the two. 

Emotional hungry CRAVES specific comfort food!! When you are really truly hungry -- BUT NOT TOO HUNGRY or OVERLY HUNGRY then really anything that you fix will look good and satisfy you, EVEN HEALTHY EATS! But EMOTIONAL hungry CRAVES fatty foods like ice-cream and carbs. You feel like you MUST have that pizza or CUPCAKE and NOTHING ... NOTHING else will do!! 

You don't feel HUNGRY when emotional hungry!! Emotional hunger does not give you stomach hunger pains but instead is keeps your mind focused on a specific taste or texture that you must have.

Emotional Hunger will NOT satisfy even when you are FULL! Nope ..... you will just keep eating and eating and eating .... and EATING until you are physically ill. When you are only hungry you only eating until your stomach is full. 

Emotional hunger often leads to guilt, regret, or shame! When you are only eating simply because you are hungry you don't feel guilty because you were only feeding your body what it truly needed. If you are feeling guilty after you eat it's because DEEP DOWN you TRULY know that you were not eating for nutritional needs but for YOUR OWN needs. 

How can you stop eating emotionally!? TIP # 1

Identify YOUR trigger. What makes you want to just grab a pint of ice cream and eat until it's completely gone? What situations, places, or feelings make you reach out to comfort food?
Yes, most emotional eating is associated with unhappy expierecnces and thoughts, but their are some emotional eaters that like to reward themselves with FOOD. That's a HUGE NO NO and I always tell my customers in my health and fitness challenges -- DO NOT REWARD YOURSELF WITH FOOD, YOU ARE NOT A DOG! Yes, it's nice to enjoy your favorite foods every now and then but DO NOT use it as a reward. You will begin to always use food as your reward and it will turn into a much bigger issue. Reward yourself with things like new workout programs, new shoes, new workout clothes, or a pedicure and manicure. NO FOOD! :)

You can also keep a Diary and each time you eat you can write down your mood at that moment. How did you feel when you ate that meal. This can help you identify what you eat depending on the different moods and feelings you have.

Tip #2

Find OTHER ways to feed your Feelings!
If you don't know how to manage your emotions in a way that DOESN'T INVOLVE FOOD .. You ARE NOT going to be able to control your eating habits for long. Diets often fail because they offer you the nutritional value, they give you the meal plan possibly, tell you exactly what you should and shouldn't eat, BUT they fail to give you that advice needed to fill your emotional needs. Many of us use food as an emotional crutch and it only leaves us failing at every weight loss and diet program out there. The problem isn't the programs but it's the PERSON! You need to recognize these problems and triggers and fix your emotional eating problem before you can start to work on following a healthy eating plan. This advice given only works if you have CONSCIOUS control over your eating habits.

In order for you to GIVE UP Emotionally eating you need to find other things that can feel that void. You can find that you are an emotional eater, you can understand the triggers -- Which is a HUGE first step -- You need to find other ways to fill that emotional need! **Go for a walk with your kids, Call a friend, exercise, Take a bath and have a hot cup of tea, Read a book, Get a massage, grab a friend and get a pedicure and manicure, or watch a movie. Find something you love doing and put your attention into that and DRINK WATER!

Tip # 3 HIT PAUSE when you feel the cravings occur.

Most emotional eaters feel completely powerless over their food cravings. When the URGE to eat hits you -- It's ALL you can think about! It's an UNBEARABLE feeling to fill that urge and EAT and SINCE you have failed so many times in the past -- You just tell yourself that you aren't capable and you don't have the willpower and self control in you.... WRONG! You are so much more powerful thank you believe. TRUTH - YOU CAN have POWER over your cravings!

**GIve yourself 5 minutes before acting on that urge. Emotionally eating is normally done MINDLESSLY.. Before you know it your in the cabinet and refrigerator grabbing whatever sounds good to you at that moment BUT if you stop to think for a minute and really think about your decisions and if they are TRULY worth it you tend to make better decisions and can even do some of the above things such as - walking, taking a bath .. ect. Please just walk away and tell yourself to wait FIVE minutes and even if you come up with the same solution of just EATING at least you were mindful of the situation and that's a step in the right direction.

** You must learn to ACCEPT YOUR EMOTIONS and know that things will not always go the way you want them too and their will be stressful situations in life that you can't always control. Emotionally eating actually stems from us feeling POWERLESS against our emotions. However, the truth of the matter is when we don't obsess over the things we can't change or the negative things in our life .. We tend to feel better and just accept that life doesn't always come easy.


When you are well rested, physically STRONG, and relaxed.. You are more EQUIPPED and PREPARED for the crazy curve balls Life throws are way. BUT -- When you are already tired and overwhelmed any little thing that comes your way has a POTENTIAL to steer you off the successful path and on your way running to the refrigerator. Sleep, Exercise, and Living a Healthy Lifestyle will help you get through hard and stressful times with out having you run for the pint of ice cream or pizza.

*Make exercise a priority in your life. I promise it will make a world of difference. By the time you are done with your workout you won't even remember what is wrong with you and you will be working off pure adrenaline  and happy VIBES! Exercise makes you HAPPY!

*Try and get AT LEST 8 hour of Sleep! -- When you don't get enough sleep at night your body craves sugary foods that will give you that quick boost and leave you crashing later. Getting enough sleep will decrease your appetite and give you less cravings.

* RELAX! -- You need that relaxing time .. So give it to yourself. It's important. Give yourself at least 30 minutes a day to just unwind and clear your mind. Get away from all the demands of the day and just RELAX! It will really leave you recharged and refreshed.

*Connect with OTHER positive people. Socializing is an important part of our life. Form close relationships with other and attend social events! **not all outings have to be about food :)

BE HAPPY! Surround yourself with positive people and DREAM BIG! The world will completely change once you change your MIND. You will see things so differently and everything will appear different. Believe in yourself and your dreams to achieve anything you set your mind too. The power of belief is POWERFUL!!!!

If you are looking for a positive group to surround yourself with -- You should join my next challenge group. They are uplifting and really help you get over that emotional hurdle instead of only working on the physical. Contact me for anymore advice or tips! I'm always here to help, support, and motivate you! Let's DO this -- I believe in you!