You had a bad day. It started this morning. The alarm went off and you hit snooze one too many times, leaving you with little to no time to shower, and definitely no time for breakfast. So you grab a coffee and add a little cream for comfort and sugar for an extra bout of energy. The day wasn’t awful, but between the piles of work and looming deadlines, and your co-worker who drives you up the wall, you’re ready for it to be over. You grab a sugary coffee drink to make the day a little more bearable. Supper is pretty good. You manage to eat fairly well. Until… the evening.
Then you can’t stop.
First it starts in the pantry. You open it and stare inside as you pick your poison; what’s it going to be tonight?
It starts off innocent. A few handfuls of something crunchy and salty. Not so bad! Oh, but there is that ice cream in the freezer… or maybe a glass of wine? Why not both, “the day was rough… I deserve it you think to yourself”. You snack until the stress of your day temporarily leaves. You numb yourself; avoiding the effort it would take to self-regulate your emotions, and the reality of the pain you have to face.
But it’s not only the ugly emotions… it’s the positive ones too.
You had a great day! You’re jeans slid on with ease, you didn’t kill any of your colleagues or children, and your husband offered to cook supper. Winning! It’s such a good day, it calls for some celebratory wine and then an ice-cream trip to top it all of.
But you wake up the next morning feeling bloated and fluffy and wishing you had more self control. And then you spend the rest of your day beating yourself up, trying to eat as little or as clean as possible, only to do it all over again the next evening.
If you are an emotional eater, you’re not unusual.
In fact, you’re like more women that you could imagine.
Somewhere along the lines, we learned that it’s easier and less painful to eat our feelings than actually have to feel or deal with them.
And it might be; temporarily. For the few moments of bliss that we experience until our mouth is empty, our stomachs are full, and our self-hatred spikes inversely with our level of self control.
Emotions, pain, frustration… they are all real. And they deserve to be experienced guilt free. Don’t judge yourself for the way you feel, but allow yourself to feel your feelings! Get angry, get mad, get sad, cry, scream, go for a walk, colour, paint. Do whatever you need to do to get it out!
Studies have shown that it takes approximately 90 seconds of experiencing pain or an emotion for it to pass. 90 seconds… that's a minute and a half that could save you hundreds of calories.
A minute and a half that could save you your health; physically and emotionally.
The next time you’re tempted to curb your emotions with food or alcohol, HALT.
And ask yourself: Am I just…
H - Hungry?
A - Anxious or Stressed?
L - Lonely?
T - Tired?
Then ask yourself… What do I really need right now?
Maybe you need to drink a glass of water, portion out a well balanced meal, sit down, eat slowly, and be present, or simply go for a walk.
Anxious or Stressed?
Find healthy ways to destress! Maybe it’s going for a run, crying, screaming into a pillow… do whatever you need to do to feel and deal with the stress without eating.
Try calling a friend, getting a hug, spending some time with your furry four legged friend. It’s okay to need others; life wasn’t meant for living alone. We must let others in.
Make it your top priority to get more sleep. (and avoid caffeine and sugar - they will only make matters worse)
By taking a few seconds to pause and determine what it is that you actually need and what is really going on, you will start to pick up on your emotional triggers. Once you find healthy ways to resolve the real problem, your notice that you're no longer numbing yourself with food, and your weight and energy will change drastically.
It's not easy, you have years of emotions, triggers, and bad habits that have become normal. But, with a little practice, and by becoming intentional and focusing on what it is that you really want, you can change your health and your habits.
It’s time you start living life again; free of emotional baggage, and all of the weight gain that goes with it. You were meant for more, and you deserve more! So many of the people that I have met with over the years don’t need a meal plan, they simply need coping strategies.
Try these, and share this article with anyone you think may benefit from it.