I can't stop emotionally eating ... help!
This is something that I see so often with my clients. They say that they use food as emotional support and to get them through tough times. They say to themselves they will just have one piece of chocolate and before they know it a whole block has gone. Their thoughts then turn to self sabotage and say oh well today is already ruined so I may as well have the ... pizza, chips, hamburger, ice cream. Whatever else they can get their hands on. They then end up feeling even more guilty and punishing themselves. Sound familiar?
Before I go on, don't be so hard on yourself. You are only human and you are not alone and the only one that does or has done this. The amount of times my clients have told a similar story would surprise you.
Here are some of my tips and tricks to help you overcome those emotional barriers and that next time you reach for that chocolate in an emotional wreck, to help you not devour the whole thing and ruin your day.
1. Drink some water - Thirst is most often confused for as hunger so next time you reach for the chocolate or sweets have some water first. Wait 10 minutes and see how you feel and if you still feel like the chocolate then allow yourself one or two pieces. This could also be a sign you're not drinking enough. To prevent this happening, always make sure to carry a water bottle or have a glass of water on your desk at work. Set a timer to go off every hour to make sure you have constant sips throughout the day.
2. Don't have a pity party - Most people get into the habit of thinking "Oh poor me this happened" which then leads to their bouts of emotional eating. Instead of thinking like that try and change it around to form a positive statement. Thinking of things in the positive always makes things sound better and not as hard. Also reminding yourself of what you have that others don't can also make you feel greatful and see that life isn't all negative. When life isn't all negative you are less likely going to want to indulge in those self sabotage behaviours.
3. Don't react in the moment - Reacting in the heat of the moment to any situation can generally lead to making it worse and look worse than it actually is. This will lead you to having a reaction (whether it be eating a bag of chips or yelling and screaming) that you normally wouldn't have. Stepping away from the situation and giving yourself 10 minutes to breathe and calm down will allow you to look at it rationally and after that it may not look as bad as you initially thought. This will give you a fresh and calmer perspective on how to deal with it. The only thing getting angry does is raise your blood pressure and heart rate, it will not help the situation to get any better faster, in fact it will do the opposite.
4. Go for a walk - Getting out into the fresh air and going for a walk is not only good for you physically but also help improve your mood and get you to see things with a fresh view. As spoken about above, going out for a walk is a good distraction to get you to calm down and to not react to situations in the moment.
5. Get into the habit of regular exercise - Doing regular exercise, not just when you feel you need a distraction from something, will help with helping to maintain a stable weight and with weight loss. It also help you mentally as studies have proven that exercise increases dopamine levels in the brain, which decreases stress levels and even depression. Exercise also releases serotonin which helps to promote a good night sleep but also boost mood, appetite, digestion and memory.
6. Have one piece of chocolate and stop - Look I know this may be harder said than done and this can be something you work up too, but having 1 or 2 pieces of good quality dark chocolate. When your mind gets fixated on something it is hard to think of something else. So when you get in your mind that you want that block of chocolate, allow yourself 1 or 2 pieces and then stop. Stop and put it away and distract yourself with something else. This is the perfect time to then go for a walk or get out of the house and away from the chocolate. Giving yourself those couple of pieces of good quality dark chocolate is going to satisfy your craving and then going to allow your brain to start concentrating on something else instead of just obsessing over wanting it.
7. Have a magnesium supplement - Magnesium has been shown to help curb the slump and sugar cravings that people experience mid afternoon.