So you were going along just fine. You feel like you've gotten into a good routine with your exercise and are beginning to like salads and see that they aren't all just boring bowls of lettuce. Then "something" happens. For everyone this can be "something" can be very different. It can be running into an Ex, seeing an old friend, a stressful day at work, a presentation not going quite right. Absolutely anything but something that sets you off back down what would have been that spiral of emotional eating and then the attitude of "oh well screw it, I already ate some ice cream may as well have pizza, lollies, chocolate and chips with that too." All it can take can be on little thing that can turn days into weeks, into months of eating like this and before you know it, it's been 3 months and your runners have started gathering dust and you don't know where your gym membership swipe key is.
Here are some of my tips to help you stay on track and not lose sight of your goals and how far you've come every time something threatens to derail your progress.
1. Learn to think of food as food and don't attach any emotion to it.
When you eat a salad or some vegetables, what do you think? You generally don't, you just eat it. So why, when we eat a piece of cake or some chocolate, do we think "Omg i'm having something naughty" Even thinking of it like this can cause that sort of spiral because you know what they say - We always want what we can't have. So when you tell yourself you shouldn't have something or are naughty for having something that just makes you want it and crave it even more. Now i'm not saying that you should be eating cake as often as you are eating vegetables. Definitely not. Cakes, lollies and chocolates etc are sometimes foods that should be saved for special occasions (more on this below). But, what i'm saying is that whenever you do decide to have a small bite of cake or a square or 2 of chocolate don't beat yourself up about it. Have the same attitude to eating cake as you would eating vegetables . Think about it for as long as you thought about the broccoli you ate last night (which i'm sure was not for very long) and then move on don't let it control you or your emotions.
2. Find something else you love doing that can take the place of eating.
Generally when we emotionally eat it's because we are bored and have nothing else to do and have time to sit and think about what was hurting us. Instead of just running to the fridge every time you are stressed, take this opportunity to do something else for yourself. Go for a walk, read a book, have a bath. Do something to relax yourself and you'll generally find that you actually weren't hungry and will feel a lot less guilty than you would if you ate a whole block of chocolate.
3. Be conscious when you are doing it and eat mindfully.
Eating mindfully is of the best practices to help curb overeating. If the next time you're craving chocolate or something sweet, have one square of chocolate or a mouthful of cake and really chew your food thoroughly and actually savour and taste every mouthful. After you've had that one bite/ piece then stop and see how you feel and quite often that little slice/ piece has more than satisfied your sweet craving and then there's no need to go overboard.
4. Save cake for special occasions.
Cake should be considered something special and should be saved for celebrations It should not be just because it's a Thursday and you're going out to afternoon tea or one night you're sitting at home on the couch and just feel like some cake. That way if you're not having it very often, those times you do have it, you end up enjoy it more because it is special.
5. Make healthy alternatives
Find healthy alternatives for all your favourite sweet treats and have them in the freezer for when you get that sweet craving. I'm not saying that even these should be eaten everyday but at least when you want something sweet you'll then know that these are at least a bit healthier for you and aren't packed full of processed sugar and preservatives.