The first step to busting out of the emotional eating trap is to make friends. Not friends with other people, friends with yourself. You already have proven, perhaps over and over, that hating your fat or yourself doesn’t change anything. Why not try another strategy? Taking care of yourself is its town reward, but—just as you wouldn’t expect to finish a marathon the first time you lace up your running shoes—learning to nourish yourself takes pracice.
Think of any and every reason that describes why you eat, other than hunger, and jot them down. Do you see a pattern? Anger, fear, sadness, joy…those are a few of the biggies; the key is to recognize your personal “why.” Next, identify ways to shift the focus away from the food. Think of the fun activities that ground or inspire you and place that list somewhere highly visible. The next time your mood strikes, refer to your list. What’s key is to stop feeding those emotions with something from the fridge. Try these options instead.
Get moving. Take a walk. Go for a bike ride or sign up for an exercise class. Start slow and keep it simple. Leave the boot camps and triathlons alone for now. No need to beat yourself.
Phone a friend. Every now and then we need a lifeline—and not because we’re trying to win a game show. Check in with a friend. Laugh. Cry. Just get it out. Emotions weren’t meant to be stuffed. Don’t discount the amount of support someone you trust can provide. Who knows; you could end up supporting each other.
Glam it up. When it is time to eat (to satisfy actual hunger, of course), make it an event. Bring out your nicest dishes. Set the table. Light some candles. Put on some music. Whatever you do; make it special and focused. No distracting TV, cell phone or internet. Unplug and mindfully experience the nourishment you are giving your body.
Treat yourself. Find outlets other than food to provide enjoyment. Schedule a massage, give yourself a mini-facial, get lost in the bookstore, run a bubble bath. Give yourself permission to treat yourself in a healthy way.
Let’s be clear: your emotions are here to stay. The challenge is to turn away from food and find new ways to express and deal with those emotions. Embrace the feelings and dare to try new strategies. Each time you do, it gets a little easier!
Mimi Davis, a single mother of three with talents in marketing and project management, is our guest blogger today. Mimi is exploring a raw food lifestyle while she unearths her own emotional eating patterns.