For so many of us that are on a weight loss journey, we are fully aware that emotional eating is an obstacle to our long term success. We eat when we’re stressed, anxious, sad, lonely. We find ourselves feeding our emotions, and then we spend the rest of the day beating ourselves up about it. Overcoming emotional hunger is not an easy accomplishment. It takes time, patience, and practice. Here are a few tips to help you tackle emotional hunger.
Stop judging yourself. This is the most important and a most crucial tip to end emotional hunger, so allow me to repeat it: Stop judging yourself! Self-judgment and criticism only feed into the negative mindset that holds you back. Approach yourself with kindness, as you would a trusted friend, and decide that you are going to coach yourself this.
Be aware of your triggers. It may be a specific person, a certain circumstance, a particular situation that causes the feeling that triggers the desire to soothe with food. Maybe it’s a relative, or it’s the looming deadline at work, or an evening home alone that triggers us to reach for the ice-cream, the pizza, the chips. Knowing our triggers allows us to predict when they are going to arise. But is knowing your trigger the most important part of the equation? No, it’s not. It’s the action you choose that is most important.
3. Have a plan B. If you know your emotional triggers, then you can often anticipate them. So create a short list of plan B’s. A plan B is any productive action that can redirect your mind towards something else. Even if you do not know your triggers, having these plan B actions are good to have in your back pocket when the moment arises. Drinking a glass of water is always a good plan B because it quite literally makes us feel better physically. The only criteria is that it needs to be an action that feels organic to you, one that you know can do. Here are some other examples:
Leaving the room
Calling a friend
Going outside for a short walk
Listening to a motivating or educational podcast
4. Journal about it. When that moment hits you, and you want to grab comfort food, instead grab a journal and write about what you’re thinking and feeling at that moment. Even if you are not sure what it is, just start writing. It’s there. You just may need to give a few minutes to come up. If free writing doesn’t feel comfortable or you do better with more structured writing, here are a few prompts:
The circumstance is:
This thing/person/situation happening is making me feel…
Here are some of the things I am thinking..
This is what I want to do right now…
Wanting to do this makes me feel…
5. Reflect. After an episode of emotionally eating, take time to reflect on it. Think about, or journal about, what you were thinking and feeling before it happened, while it was happening, and after it happened. This is an opportunity for you to get to know YOU better, and that is always a good thing. Raising our level of self-awareness around these painful and uncomfortable issues makes us emotionally stronger. And when we are emotionally stronger, we can trust ourselves to handle, overcome, or heal the issues that cause us to feed emotional hunger. This makes the ability to reflect WITHOUT JUDGMENT an important part of overcoming emotional hunger.
Knowing what to eat, when to eat, where to eat is a lot easier than getting to the bottom of why you eat. If you need help resolving issues around emotional eating, I would love to chat with you. Click here to learn more, and don’t forget to ask about the LEAN discount.
Amy Nighbert, certified life coach
LIfe Coaching with Amy Nighbert, LLC.