You open a bag of chips, planning to eat just a handful. 15 minutes later, you realize you’ve finished off half the bag.
Or maybe you intend to eat a handful of mixed nuts, but quickly lose track of how many times you grab another handful.
Maybe you don’t consider these eating patterns to be related to your emotions, but think about how often you put food into your mouth when you aren’t physically hungry or needing a meal.
It’s how we begin to lose control over our eating. It seems like it is happening to us.
We don’t know how to stop emotional eating.
So what is emotional eating?
Emotional eating is simply the act of reaching for food when you aren’t physically hungry or needing nutrition. It’s usually a way to numb an emotion or intensify one, like a celebration or connection.
Sneaking food when no one is looking, indulging in a donut in the break room, or having dessert after dinner every night all fit into this definition.
The food somehow meets a need or fills a gap in your life.
Emotional eating can be obvious, like the times you pull into Starbucks because you’re tired or stressed or when you head for the frig after an argument or when you are bored.
There went the diet!
The truth is if you only grab some cookies on occasion you’re probably not going to do much damage, but the thing to remember is when you use food to fix emotions, you lose trust with yourself that you will do what you say you will do.
You’ll also increase your desire for these kinds of foods because it will become easier to use food as a way to get that feel-good dopamine hit.
And that feel-good dopamine hit is exactly what fuels more desire, and then when that hit wears off real life and real emotions are right there waiting.
We beat ourselves up for what we ate and eat more to fill that awful feeling.
One client describes her pattern this way:
“First I eat and drink to calm down and relax at the end of a long day. Then I skip out on the walk I planned to take. As the evening goes on, I eat because I’m lonely and bored. Then, I eat because I’m frustrated and disgusted with myself. by this time I’ve decided, I’ll never get control of food and eat to punish myself.
How do you stop emotional eating and take back control?
To stop emotional eating, you first have to recognize that you’re doing it. Start noticing all the times you eat when you truly aren’t hungry.
Start noticing your patterns and habits. Do you head for Starbucks every day on your 3 p.m. break? Do you tell yourself you’ve done great and deserve a treat after dinner? Or maybe you grab a handful of M&Ms every time your on the phone with your kids.
Notice the feelings you were feeling and the thoughts that created them in that moment. Write them down.
Do this every time you have a desire to eat for a reason other than physical hunger.
Is this hunger or desire? What do I feel and what thought is creating that feeling? What’s going on? Why do I want to eat right now?
Looking inside yourself is where you will find the answers. You won’t find them in another program or at the bottom of the ice cream container.
Becoming aware of what you think and feel is powerful.
When you really know what is going on you can decide on purpose how you can meet your needs and have your own back instead of using food to mask the problem.
We can’t find a solution when we are looking in the wrong place. It always starts by looking within.
When you can identify what you feel, need, or want you can figure out how to manage emotion without fueling it with food.
So today, start asking yourself these questions I’ve shared. Start tracking your thoughts and the feelings they create and looking for patterns. Practice by thinking of the last time you ate from emotion and go through this process. What was the emotion? What were you thinking?
And finally, let yourself just feel the emotion. Let it just be there. Notice where it is in your body. Our emotions are messengers. Be compassionate with it until you can let it go.
I teach all of this and more in my Stop Overeating 6 week program. I’ve only got 10 spots. If you want more information get on my calendar here and we’ll set up a 15-20 minute call.
You can share where you are struggling and I’ll show you how to start getting results now. If you want information about the program I’ll answer your questions and share the details and if you don’t you’ll walk away knowing your next steps.
It’s a win-win. Remember there are only 10 spots so don’t miss out, so if you’re ready to try something you’ve never tried before, book a call here https://calendly.com/janelle-jai/ds
Here’s what one client had to say:
“When I reached out to Janelle for support, it was after 25 years of the dieting merry-go-round and honestly, it felt like my last-ditch effort to create change (and I’ve already had the lap-band surgery – I guess it was a pity I couldn’t put a lap-band on my brain!)
What I didn’t want was another diet that I was doomed to fail at – what I truly wanted was to be free of the control that food had over me.
In the six sessions Janelle and I spent together, I went from stuck to starting, from self-defeating thoughts to believing I could change, from being controlled by the next meal to choosing my behaviors.
I can’t believe I’m living a life where food no longer has control over me! It all changed for me when I stopped looking for the dieting quick fix and with Janelle’s help relearnt the power I have and can access any time – to shift my patterns of behavior and move towards greater freedom every day.
The scales are showing results, but that’s just the icing on the cake – I’m free from compulsive food behaviors for the first time in 25 years!” – Melisa”