It's Time to Conquer Emotional Eating
by Judee Algazi
Positive Strategies to gain control of Emotional Eating;
Emotional eating is defined as eating in response to emotions instead of eating in response to actual hunger. Studies reveal that seventy-five percent of all overeating is emotional. When feeling stressed, lonely, anxious, bored or unhappy, emotional eaters turn to comfort foods to try to make them feel better. Food does not satisfy you because you are not hungry! Comfort foods are caloric and high in fat, salt and sugar, they can affect both your weight and your health negatively. In addition, comfort foods can your elevate mood temporarily, but after overindulging, you feel bloated, uncomfortable and guilty. Even though this destructive eating pattern can make you feel powerless, there are things you can do to take back control.
Right now you may be using only one strategy to deal with negative feelings and emotions: Food!
Instead of repeating the old habit of turning to comfort foods, this article will provide you with other alternatives to help you overcome negative feelings .
The Connection Between Your Thoughts and Food
If you don't know what it means to stop eating when you are full, you are most likely an emotional eater. Your appetite is dictated by your emotions and your perceptual response to other's opinions, your expectations, and whether you feel like a success or a failure .When you feel discouraged, you eat emotionally. Therefore, when you make a mistake, you may tell yourself that you are inadequate; it is not the mistake that sends you running for food, it is your thoughts about how you judge the mistake that sends you heading for something to make you feel better. That something is most like like a sugary, salty, fatty or starchy comfort food..
Positive Self-Talk is the key to conquering emotional eating.
Key Point #1: Encourage Yourself..
Do your remember when your young children were upset and you said things to try to make them feel better. You didn't say, " you are a loser or you probably will end up failing". On the contrary. You encouraged them by saying things like, " this is just one mistake, with practice you will get better" or everybody has ups and downs, things will get better". Emotional Eaters need to learn to use those same strategies with themselves!
You have to learn to talk yourself into better. You can remind yourself that making a mistake does not make you inadequate. Learn to accept and correct the mistake and go on. Don't beat yourself up verbally. Instead, practice saying things to yourself that make you feel better. When you do lose, don't lose the lesson.
Remember that positive thoughts generate positive emotions. Positive emotions do not drive emotional eating.
Learning to talk to yourself positively does take practice, but the more you try to talk yourself into feeling better, the easier it gets and the faster you experience a positive mood change. So, when you make a mistake, consciously talk yourself into feeling better. In the beginning, you may need to coax yourself. To help comfort yourself so you can experience a positive mood change, you might say things like:
By learning to encourage yourself and talk to yourself forgivingly and positively, you can eliminate many of the negative emotions that lead to emotional eating.
The Relationship Between Socializing and Emotional Eating
It is not only negative emotions that can lead to emotional eating. Parties, holidays, and socializing tend to encourage emotional eating. The advertising industry influences our perception of the importance of food at social gatherings. Therefore you may associate being happy with eating and drinking . Television commercials bombard you with messages about happy, sexy, attractive people having fun eating while socializing. This picture remains in your mind and acts as a role model for your eating behavior at parties and social gatherings.
To avoid falling into the emotional eating trap when socializing, you need to be prepared. Before you get to a social gathering, plan how and what you are going to eat. chips, dips, cheeses, appetizers and spreads are loaded with fat and calories. Decide in advance if you think that emotional eating and continuous grazing will really make you happy. Do you think you will be happier after a bowl of chips and sour cream dip? Will you feel better after a few handfuls of chocolate covered raisins? Visualize yourself looking and feeling good. Visualize healthy foods, exercise and balance . Decide in advance what you want to eat. Develop greater self confidence and learn to be self accepting.
Try Color Breathing ( A tip from Rebecca Marina's newsletter )
Tips for social events:
Food with Addictive Qualities:
Avoid Foods that give you a rush . It is not just emotions that trigger emotional eating; beware of foods that chemically lift your spirits. Foods with sugar, chocolate, caffeine, salt and fat have addictive qualities which makes it hard to stop eating them. Very few people crave celery or lentils. However, chocolate, potato chips, bread and ice cream are often some of the greatest offenders. Chocolate triggers the release of a hormone called serotonin, which can give you a rush that you don't get from eating celery. Carbohydrates like bread and pasta also release hormones that trigger a soothing response. These hormones make you feel good and keep bringing you back for more. The old potato chip commercial that used to boast, " Bet you can't eat just one" banked on the addictive qualities of carbohydrates. It is important to find other ways to boost your mood without food.
Choose exercise for the same rush. Fortunately, you can get the same type of hormone release from exercising. Just a half hour brisk walk can begin to release endorphins that make you feel better. Be conscious. Don't wait until you are feeling lonely, anxious, blue or just tempted by a chocolate bar, be prepared in advance to have an alternate plan. There are many suggestions below. If you do get stuck in a negative spiral and find yourself eating emotionally or craving chemically addicting foods, it is important to be aware of what you are eating
Be aware that some foods remind you of happy times from your childhood. We call these, "comfort foods." When you feel anxious or stressed out, you may automatically reach for these memorable foods to trigger feelings that help your feel better. Foods like macaroni and cheese, French bread and butter, cookies, pizza may be associated with happy times and these emotional substitutes may sabotage your food choices today. A grown women does not benefit from a 900 calorie bowl of macaroni and cheese. The reason you feel better is because of the memory you associate with it. You can get those same memories by looking at childhood pictures. Again, it is important to be prepared, be conscious and use alternatives that can make you feel good instead of turning to food..
Self acceptance is Key to conquering emotional eating:
Emotional eaters eat to escape uncomfortable feelings. In addition, many emotional eaters have poor self esteem and rely on the opinions of others. If you do not accept yourself the way you are, you will never feel better or truly happy because you remain a victim to your own self criticism. " You are doing a great job", "You look terrific" " You are a good mother", " You make a difference". If you rely on others to give you reasons to feel good, then there will always be times that you feel uncomfortable or unhappy.
Don't wait to hear positive feedback from others, give yourself positive feedback. If you think, " He didn't call" it must mean I am worthless, If you think things like, " He didn't even say thank you , I am never appreciated. " I work so hard for my kids and they never even notice." you are looking for others to make you feel better. This is not healthy and can lead to overeating as a source of soothing oneself.
Don't look for others to acknowledge you; appreciate yourself. Most importantly, don't judge yourself . Start taking positive steps to feeling good. Overweight is a symptom of the problem, not the problem. So, you must understand that until you accept yourself the way you are, you may rely on food to make you feel better.
Be more aware of the way you talk to yourself and become pro-active and conscious of what and how you are eat. Avoid foods with addictive qualities, foods that you associate with happy feelings, avoid associating food with socializing and most of all learn to be accepting of yourself . Here are some strategies to help you take control of emotional eating.
Emotional eating is responsible for most of the empty calories that Americans over consume on a daily basis. A bag of chips or two candy bars will raise your spirits momentarily but ultimately leave you feeling defeated and powerless.
Judee Algazi is an educator and intuitive coach. In her private practice, she works with individuals to release negative emotional patterns.
Call 215.481.0321 for information or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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