Yesterday I was with a client who talked to me about an emotional eating episode she’d had during the week.
When we first started discussing the situation she wasn’t aware why she had been over eating. She just knew she’d eaten more than she normally would, without even thinking.
When we got down to the issues, it was evident she was eating to soothe some emotions she had been feeling.
Not only did she still have the emotions after eating the food but she also felt awful because of the extra food she’d eaten.
I’m sure you’ve been there. We all have.
So what can you do about it?
Well I suggest you create your own Emotional Eating Escape Plan.
Start by go and grabbing a piece of paper and write down a list of other ways you can soothe yourself other than eating. It could be journaling, going for a walk, picking up the phone to talk to a friend or even punching a boxing bag!
If you are struggling for ideas check out Susan Albers book 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and her follow up book 50 More Ways to Soother Yourself Without Food.
Once you’ve made your list of at least 10 altenative activities you can do besides eating, you can then follow my 4 step process the next time an emotional eating episode occurs. This process can be summed up by the following acronym…
S – Stop
T – Think about the trigger
O – Observe your feelings
P – Proceed mindfully
This acronym is a great tool to use whenever you find yourself in an emotionally eating situation. The idea is to stop before you eat, think about what’s triggering the desire for food and observe what feelings are really coming up for you. Once you have done that you will then be in a better position to proceed mindfully. That is to take the best cause of action for you in the circumstances. That may be one of the following 3 options…
- Do an alternative activity from the list you created above. For example if it is anger that you are feeling then you might want to do something physical like going for a run. If you are needing comfort or love, take your pet for a walk or give yourself a lovely candlelit bath.
- Find an alternative healthier food option that may suffice the desire to eat because let’s face it, doing an alternative activity isn’t always going to cut it. And sometimes just having that physical act of chewing is all you may need to overcome your desire for food.
- Have a little. Some food cravings won’t always go away but if you decide to eat the food you are wanting then at least have a small amount and eat it slowly and mindfully. At least now you are proceeding with more awareness and enjoying every mouthful and are less likely to overeat.
So by remembering the acronym S-T-O-P and having a list of alternative activities close by that you can refer to when your cravings arise, you are well on your way to reducing the amount of emotional eating that you do in the future!
Now I’d love to hear from you as to what your top 3 tips are going to be for soothing yourself without food. Share them in the comments section below!