Ways to Manage Emotional Eating and Take Control
Are you ready to manage emotional eating in your life? Are you tired of being at the whim of external circumstances and emotions that are temporary and come/go, yet you’re left with the results of decreased health and weight gain? For many of us, we live in a reactive state to the external situations that occur and the accompanying uncomfortable emotions. Don’t be a victim and react – take charge and become proactive and focus on managing emotional eating. Sounds great, huh? Here are some ways to manage emotional eating.
Ways to manage emotional eating:
1. MAKE A LIST OF DISTRACTIONS – Rather than using food to manage emotional eating, find distractions to become alternatives to eating. Make a list, the longer the better, of things you could do instead of emotionally eat. Some examples are to call a trusted friend, take a walk, go outside to change your environment thus your perspective, read a magazine or a book, play a video game or an app on your phone, take a bubble bath, brush your teeth, eat a pickle (if you’re a sugar lover like I am!), write a blog post or entry in your journal, or engage your hands in some way (when your hands are busy, say with knitting, you can’t eat at the same time). On your list of distractions, list anything that is soothing, comforting or will calm you. The goal is to make a list of things that will relax you other than food. Usually, if you can distract yourself for a short period of time, the urge to emotionally eat will lessen. By having a distraction list, you’re creating alternatives you can turn to for emotional fulfillment (filling up emotionally) instead of emotionally eating.
2. SELF-CARE – To manage emotional eating can be a challenge. Make sure to include self-care so you feel nurtured and cared for and not as vulnerable to external situations that can rock your well-being. To manage emotional eating, you need to find other ways to become emotionally fulfilled. Take a bubble bath and read your favorite book or light candles for a special ambiance, give yourself a manicure or pedicure, do Pilates, yoga or stretching exercises, listen to your favorite tunes that are motivating and uplifting to you, learn breathing exercises to manage stress levels, meditate or pray. I talked about the contents of this post with a coaching client that was struggling with emotional eating. As self-care for her, she decided to go zip-lining. She loved it and it was such a thrill for her. She experienced freedom and felt so empowered. Now when she has the urge to emotionally eat, she reflects on what she experiences when she zip-lines. Her life-long struggle with emotional eating has been decreased dramatically. Define what self-care is for you and what fills you up emotionally and do it!!
3. FOOD/MOOD JOURNAL – Keep a log of your food and moods. When you log your food along with your mood, you can see the patterns in your emotional eating triggers. Write down the date, time of day when you eat and your mood along with what was going on at the time. This has the benefit of better connecting yourself with your food choices, emotions you felt and what was occurring when you ate. Knowledge is power – when you see the three components of food, mood and occurrences, you are better able to manage emotional eating.
4. MINDFUL EATING – When traveling by plane, auto-pilot is a useful feature for safe flight. Auto-pilot for emotional management and emotional eating is not a healthy coping mechanism. Mindful eating is staying present in the right here/right now. You focus on what is going on, what you’re eating by paying attention to the tastes, textures, how it feels in your body – being present instead of the equivalent of auto-pilot by emotionally eating.
5. HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON – Become in tune with your body and your emotions that you aren’t skipping a beat and your default of emotionally eating takes over. Develop your Pause button because emotionally eating tends to be automatic (auto-pilot) and mindless. Before you know it, you’re looking down at empty dishes, empty wrappers or mid-way through a tub of ice cream. When you hit your Pause button, it gives you time to reflect and collect yourself so you aren’t prey to uncomfortable emotions or upsetting situations. When you give yourself the gift of pause, you allow yourself the opportunity to make a different decision than to emotionally eat. You become in charge of yourself, your emotions and situations and manage emotional eating. Give yourself a few minutes to wait. While waiting, check in with yourself. What is going on? What emotions am I feeling? You may end up emotionally eating THIS TIME but you’ll have started the process to manage emotional eating. You’ll understand more about why you did it. This moment of pause can help you make a difference response to the uncomfortable emotions or situation.
Don’t yield your personal power to food and emotionally eating. You aren’t a victim so don’t indulge in behaviors that make you feel that way. Stay in charge of yourself and your life. When you manage emotional eating, you are giving yourself the precious gift of your increased self-esteem, confidence and the real you.