Do you fill your plate with an abundance of non-starchy vegetables, quality protein and good fats, and time your whole food carbohydrates, only to unravel in times of stress, or late at night? The reality is that emotional eating is not uncommon, but it can be addressed with awareness and a collection of strategies in your tool box. Read on to learn our top five steps to solving emotional eating.
Rather than striving for 100% which often leads to a binge, aim to eat JERF 80% of the time. It’s still important to make good choices in the remaining 20%, but balance is the key to your long term success. There’s no such thing as perfection when it comes to food, so as soon as you stop trying to achieve the unattainable, your relationship with food will exponentially improve.
2. Be your own Coach
In moments of stress or the temptation for a late night kitchen session, ask yourself this: “Will eating this food right now move me towards my goal?” or “Does this food choice move me towards, or away from wellness?”. Essentially, you insert time for a better decision to be made. Nine times out of 10 I just know you will make the right choice. Phone a friend, go for a walk around the block, or simply put yourself to bed. As I always say, you can’t eat when you’re asleep, so it is so often about replacing an old behaviour with a new, more positive one, like an earlier bed time.
By simply adding in 3-5 diaphragmatic breaths before a meal, you stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes rest and digest. Eating on the run, or over your inbox on the other hand, promotes the “fight or flight” response where digestion is sub-optimal and unnecessarily large amounts of food can be consumed subconsciously. It is so important to create space for your meal times and to chew and savour your food.
4. Remove temptation
If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it, right? Set your kitchen up for success with an abundance of whole foods and remove the temptations from your sight. It doesn’t mean you can’t buy these “foods” (if, for example, family members or roommates choose to eat them), but you can put them at the back of the fridge/freezer, or in a separate section of the pantry. Out of sight, out of mind, after all. If cravings strike at a particular time of the month, be prepared with a healthy sweet treat. It’s much easier to avoid a Cadbury’s or Ben & Jerry’s binge when you have some Raw Chocolate Crackle Slice pre-prepared.
5. Fill your cup
Emotional eating can often be a temporary replacement for boredom, loneliness, career dissatisfaction, and/or an unhappy relationship, so it may be time to acknowledge the areas of your life you wish to improve. Instead of sitting in front of the television and devouring Tim Tams of an evening, why not enrol in a craft lesson, language course or yoga class? Spend some time writing a bucket list of what you want to achieve over the next 3, 6 and 9 months and work your way through this list in your spare time. You’ll increase your happiness, feel empowered, and most importantly, fill up your own cup so you will no longer need to escape in food.
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