How Can I Stop My Emotional Eating?!?

iiiGreat question! For those of us who’ve struggled with food, eating can sooth raw emotions, numb pain, distract, entertain, befriend and comfort – temporarily. And of course, therein lies the rub. As much as we want comfort in the moment we also want to feel good in our body for life. 

I received this concern in an email just yesterday: “Liberated Eating works great for me…until I get sad/lonely or overwhelmed and then I just don’t care. I keep sabotaging myself and regretting it. What can I do?”

Can’t we all relate! The good news is there are many effective strategies for dealing with this. Here are just a few, in no particular order:

  • Take 5  Emotional eating tends to be automatic. It’s a well-worn pattern and our default go-to. But what if you asked yourself to wait just 5 minutes? You aren’t saying NO, you’re just saying WAIT. A speed bump of sorts. While you’re waiting, check in. How are you feeling? What’s going on? Having a better understanding of your feelings takes you from the crazy free-fall to some solid ground. Even if you end up choosing to eat anyway you’ll have a better understanding of why. This breaks the mindless auto-cycle and sets you up for making different choices next time. Remember, we’re in this for the long haul.
  • Have 2 in your queue – Have 2 comforting choices in your tool belt at all times. Go ahead and pick two things that make you feel better. Have these tools ready when you need them. When you’re uncomfortable and i-don’t-care-right-now is screaming loudly in your head, you can say something like this to yourself: “I feel ________ and I just might eat, but first I’m going to do one other thing that I know comforts me. I’ve got real choices here.”

You might listen to three favorite songs, take a 10 minute stroll, call a friend, play with a pet, enjoy a bath, ride a bike, do some coloring or read something fun. The trick is to have effective options ready when you need them.

Choices are powerful. We’re building new coping skills and giving ourselves the option of being comforted in a way that we will not regret later.

  • Exchange EITHER/OR thinking for BOTH/AND thinking We tend to think we only have two choices. I either “eat right” or I binge. I’ve either been good or I’ve been bad. That’s the old diet mentality talking. Actually there are a lot of options between these two extreme points.

Rather than eating a ton or not eating anything you could decide to comfort yourself with food and enjoy it completely – no guilt, no regret – just straight up “I’m eating this for comfort right now and I’m going to enjoy it”. This is permission to both hold to your mindfulness and eat for comfort.

If you keep your liberated eating mindset intact you can enjoy your comfort eating experience. Perhaps one bowl of ice cream will do the trick instead of standing in the kitchen eating out of the carton. As we leave all-or-nothing behind the old default setting will dim.

  • Take the 20,000 foot view – Seeing the big picture is enlightening and encouraging! True lifestyle change is not a straight line. In fact, it’s supposed to be bumpy. As we keep practicing, stumbling, learning, and recalibrating things will get smoother.

Imagine going way up high and looking down on your life-long food journey – you will see that the “mess-ups” get less intense over time; they get farther and farther apart; they don’t knock you for a loop like they used to. In time, the stormy seas settle down to sunshine with occasional waves.

In the beginning we may fall back into old patterns regularly, but this is not failure; it is the rightful path of true change. It takes time to exchange old patterns for new ones.

If we don’t understand how change works we can think we’ve failed each time we haven’t been “perfect” – which of course leads to despair and probably another binge. Get comfortable with messy. I’m 15 years into recovery and occasionally I still eat like I used to, but now I think “Hmmm, wonder what that was about?” instead of “OH NOOOO, I’m a big fat failure!!!”

So please, give yourself room to be human, to be in process. In fact, let’s take it a step further; how about we relax and enjoy this journey for what it truly is:

an amazing, meaningful, adventure of discovery!

Let us know your favorite strategies…

Why Can't I Stop Overeating ?!?

One of the most frequently researched questions online is “Why can’t I stop overeating?”

ooooThe frustration in this question is heartbreaking, and it’s exactly the question I asked myself for over thirty years. Of course there isn’t one tidy little answer for each of us; the answers will be as varied as we are – but – there are some common factors that cause us to feel out of control with food.

  1. 1. DIETING MAKES US EAT LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE (even though we’re not)   Eating too little always leads to eating too much, eventually. Self imposed starvation causes your body and mind to feel alarmed and to overreact, setting up the diet-binge cycle. Not only is dieting completely ineffective longterm, it actually damages your relationship with food and your body in the process. There are psychological and biological reasons we are compelled to overeat after a peroid of under-eating.
  2. BINGE EATING, CRAVINGS & COMPULSIVE EATING PATTERN   The perceived strength of the powerful urge to overeat feels overwhelming, convincing us that we’re powerless against it. After giving into it for years, weakened by our exhausting attempts at dieting, we falsely believe that now we have no choice.
  3. LACK OF CONFIDENCE    Each of us has our own personal story, temperament and negative self-talk which can undermine our self-confidence. We also falsely feel weak and incapable after years of unsuccessful dieting, even though it’s dieting that’s at fault.
  4. EMOTIONAL EATING    Eating to manage emotions feels good in the moment – lighting up the brain’s pleasure centers like firecrackers! After years of eating emotionally it can feel impossible to imagine coping with uncomfortable feelings in any other way, even though there are many more effective ways of handling our big emotions.
  5. PROCESSED SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES    Highly processed foods containing a lot of white flour and sugar can highjack our blood sugar and insulin levels – sending them on a roller-coaster ride. Natural fiber and nutrients are removed (and hyper-tasty artificial ingredients added) in the refining process. These manufactured foods break down very quickly in the body, causing us to crave more and more*.
  6. TOP REASON: WE DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW CHANGE WORKS.     Most people believe that they’re supposed to move forward perfectly, once they’ve decided to change things. In reality, true change is messy and multi-directional – and it is supposed to be. In order to make life changes you have to be willing to mess up and continue on. A lot.

Truth reminder:

You can reach a comfortable weight in spite of your obstacles. You are strong and resilient. You have choices. You are not alone.

And you don’t have to do this perfectly. No one does.

Armed with solid tools and truths like TLE 12 lesson downloadable workshop, with support like our TLE Membership  and with a bit of a sense of humor – you can make the changes you want to make!

Which of these reasons do you relate to most?

 

*For more info read Always Hungry? by Dr. David Ludwig.

 

Life After The Binge

We all know what it’s like… feeling out-of-control with food, whether it’s a “big bang binge” or an on-going-graze. Feeling helplessly pulled into the all too familiar cycle … a resounding “NOT AGAIN!” already ringing in your head before it’s even over.

The inner voice accuses: “You BLEW IT… in fact you are blowing it – not just your food-life, but your LIFE-LIFE. This eating thing is who you are!”

This is the lie we can believe if we aren’t thoughtfully armed with the truth.

So what if?

What if we jerked the rug out from under the old pattern of binge-and-belittle?            Life After The Binge

What if we switched from “THIS IS A BIG BAD HAIRY DEAL!” to “OK, so that happened, and it doesn’t define me. I’m in the process of making a healthy lifestyle change and this is one messy moment in a lifelong journey”.

What if, instead of sitting there listening to the old toxic mantra, you simply got up and did something – just one thing – one thing that has nothing to do with your food life.

Because here’s the Truth:

You have a real life. It is full of meaning. And so are you.

So right at that moment when you usually go from binge to berate, this time you get up, take a deep breath, stand up tall and:

  • Brush the dog.
  • Set a timer for ten minutes and answer emails or write a note or straighten your bedroom or clean out the car…
  • Call that person you’ve been meaning to call.
  • Walk around the block, thinking of all the things you truly enjoy.

And if that feels good you might do another thing. And you might begin to realize that YOU ARE NOT THIS FOOD THING. 

That food-overload doesn’t stop you or your life. You are living right on.

When we decide to look through the lens of compassion rather than punishment we can see that even the messiness of life is holy.

Consider this:

  1. Choosing action over brooding brings life back into focus.
  2. That binge might be an invitation into the sweetest conversation you’ve had with yourself in a long time.

Choosing not to let old negative thought patterns drag you down into the abyss is one of the most empowering things you can do.

And this one mighty step makes it easier to choose differently next time.