Thursday, May 13, 2010

Winning the Battle Against Emotional Eating

Here's a quick summary of our support group meeting and discussion last night. Complete with homework!
Download the Handout

Some highlights:
  • It's OK to have feel your emotions. You don't need to bury them or celebrate them or run away from them, which is what emotional eating does, you can simply sit quietly and acknowledge your emotions and feelings. If you're sad, just be sad. If you're happy, just be happy. You don't need to feed those emotions with comfort food, you can just feel them and move on with your day. 
  • Know your emotional triggers. What feelings make you turn to food? Make a list of ALL your emotions and explore each of them one by one. 
  • Know your food triggers. Which foods do you turn to when you're emotional? Different emotions might have different food triggers. Make a list. 
  • Keep and emotional journal. At the end of each day take 5 minutes and write down a couple sentences about how you felt that day and explore how you used food to sooth or celebrate those emotions.
  • Make the call. As you do the above 3 tasks you'll get to know yourself better and begin to recognize when you're experiencing the warning signs of emotional eating. Soon you'll be able to identify the emotion and why you want to turn to food. 
  • Stock your toolbox. The lists above and your newfound knowledge are your first tools. Also make a list of the following:
    • Alternate activities. Know what you'll DO instead of eating next time. If you're happy, turn the radio up and dance around the house. If you're sad, take the dog to the park and play frisbee. If you're angry, try kickboxing or scribbing toilets. Each different emotion might need it's own list of activities.
    • Phone a friend. Lean on others when you're not strong enough to stand on your own. Make a list of all the friends and loved ones you can lean on when you're weak. Write down their phone number, email address, chat ID and facebook name... go find them when you need them. 
    • Knowing is half the battle. We will still find ourselves in the midst of emotional eating no matter how hard we work at this technique. But you'll find that the more you become aware of how you react to emotion, you'll be able to recognize better when it's happening. That's a huge step from where we used to be when we didn't care what we stuffed in our mouthes. 
  • Mistakes Happen. If you screw up, don't beat yourself up about it. Forgive yourself and move on. The very next meal needs to be the right choice. And if you screw up your day's calories with a candy bar, that doesn't give you permission to starve yourself the rest of the day. You still need to get your nutrition in, so eat your normally planned healthy meals for the rest of the day and just take the hit for that stupid candy bar. And make sure you're recording everything in your food journal - accountability is key.
At the end of the article I designed a worksheet to get you started on building your toolbox. This won't be enough room to do all the tasks above, but it'll get you started with answering some basic questions.

Next meeting is Saturday, June 26th --- we're doing the 5k race at the Bay City State Park in the morning and then heading to Ruthann's for a Pool Party and a lunch potluck afterward.


1 comment:

  1. In any weight loss endeavor, it's important to remember that the brain has two primary directives–TO SEEK PLEASURE AND SURVIVAL. Food is associated with both from childhood. Associated with pleasure are what most call good emotions–happiness, joy, elation and so on. Associated with survival are what most call bad emotions–frustration, boredom, confusion, anger, depression and so on.

    Unfortunately most programs to lose weight or deal with binging focus on food and forget the emotional programming.

    Focusing on what you do or do not eat to control or lose weight is like trying to fly by flapping your arms. Better to focus on the stress of the emotion whether it be frustration, happiness, upset, anger, joy and learn to take it straight rather than diluting with food.

    Yes, 95% of all diets and eating programs fail. Why? For a free report please go to


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