There is one thing I hear consistently from my clients. When they identify the emotions they are feeling before reaching for that food-that-makes-them-fat-and-feel-crummy everything changes for the better. I used these strategies years ago to help guide me off of the emotional eating super highway, on to an entirely new road of optimal health. You can too!
Here are three simple steps so that you can learn not to eat your emotions.
- Figure out what you know is really nourishing and good for you, and what is best to avoid. C?mon, be honest. You know that a salad is good for you and a bag of Oreos is not. Keep this evaluation simple and learn to be discriminating. No other action at this step other than to become mindful of your pro-health choices, and your not-so-health ones. (One of my clients identified veggies on the plus side and barbeque potato chips on the negative side.)
- Begin to incorporate any practices that would be considered relaxing, or centering, or calming. Even if you do this ten minutes a day, that’s a great start. A walk around the block works beautifully. Taking long deep breaths and releasing tension from your body is magical. Putting your fork down between bites and chewing your food is more powerful than you might imagine. (One of my clients said that putting his fork down was connected to his shedding 14 pounds with no effort.) The point here is to begin to turn on the part of your nervous system that supports peace and relaxation.
- Each time you reach for food, or have the desire to eat, simply ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” You can also do this if you are about to reach for second helpings? or thirds. Are you feeling hungry? Happy? Sad? Bored? Frustrated? Nervous? Lonely? Excited? Fatigue??Stressed?Name that feeling, and if it is not hunger, you can begin to address the need associated with the feeling. Does this take practice? Yes. Will you get better at this with practice? Absolutely. (One of my clients was shocked to discover that she felt lonely. Through this simple exercise, she decided to reach out to friends and her sister to provide the nourishment she really needed. It wasn’t more food!)
I think you will love this process. Food provides essential nourishment, but it is by far not the only thing our bodies need. If you learned, for example, that you eat when you feel tired, deciding to get more rest would dramatically raise your health quotient. If you eat when you feel excited, which people often do to bring their energy down, you might discover a greater capacity to experience joy in your life. Also, with practice, the more relaxed you feel, the more you will be selecting those foods that you identified as pro-health. It works naturally, especially if you stick with this over time.
I’m excited for you to learn ways to nourish yourself that promote health, emotional balance, a weight you are happy with, and self-discovery. Love your body and you will get your body will love you back.
With love and encouragement,
Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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