Can’t stop emotional eating? How about stress eating, comfort eating, boredom eating? These are all forms of emotional eating and they can can sabotage your weight loss plans faster than you can close the fridge door. In fact, emotional eating is one of the main reasons for overeating and weight gain in women. Read on while I delve into why and how you can take charge of your emotional eating.
Can’t stop emotional eating?
Emotional eating is defined as: Using food to make yourself feel better, rather than eating because you’re physically hungry. You might reach for chocolate and cake when you’re feeling upset, eat a whole pizza when you’re feeling lonely, or order drive-through Maccas after a stressful day at work.
While it may seem like your core problem is that you feel out of control with food, however, emotional eating actually begins from feeling out of control over your emotions. You don’t feel capable of dealing with your feelings head on, so you distract from the situation with food.
When you understand that you’re triggered to eat because of your emotions, you then have an opportunity to do something about finding emotional eating solutions.
For example, you can get to the heart of the problem and deal with the issue that led to feeling emotional or stressed. While that might not be overly comfortable or fun to deal with, it may help you stop emotional overeating in the long-run and prevent any further weight gain.
I’ve worked with some really effective strategies with my clients in the past to tackle these issues in a sensitive and safe way.
It’s also important to note that “normal eaters” emotionally eat sometimes.
Normal eaters may have a big slice of cake to make themselves feel better after a shitty day at work. When it becomes to emotional overeating, ie: eat half the cake and a 2-liter tub of chocolate chip cookie dough ice-cream after a shitty day at work, time and time again, it starts to become a problem.
It’s a problem because it doesn’t really offer you much more than a yummy temporary distraction from the problem. Only now you also have extra unwanted calories, major post binge guilt and a crazy sugar rush on top it.
One important strategy for stopping emotional and stress eating is to know:
Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food.
Unfortunately, there will NEVER be enough food to fill that void or solve your life issues.
Eating does feel good in the moment, but the issue and feelings that triggered the eating will still there at the bottom of the ice cream tub. Often leaving you feeling worse than you did before.
The key here is, to pause and think before you jump straight to food. Stop what you’re doing and ask yourself, will this food solve the problem? How will I feel after I eat this? And sit with it for five minutes. Then you can decide what you want to do.
If you don’t have a plan that addresses these very real issues, and instead you push harder and harder to stay on your diet, you’re not only missing the point, you will also never create lasting change with food and your weight.
It’s not about the food
Emotional eating is really not about the food.
Repeat after me…
It’s not about the food.
This is about dealing with your emotions and life.
There’s an essential part of finding your happy balanced weight and without it – you’re almost guaranteed to fail. What’s the essential part? It’s having a strategy that addresses WHY you find yourself mindlessly emotionally overeating. Time and time again.
Women succeed at finding their balanced weight when they shift from a diet approach to one that truly allows them to create peace with food and this happens when you address the reasons WHY you overeat and put a plan in place stop unnecessary overeating.
The work we do together will enable you to:
>recognise what triggers your emotional eating habits >eliminate cravings >stop constantly thinking about food >eliminate self-sabotage with food >learn how to eat your favourite foods in balance (no diets and no deprivation) >stop yo-yo weight cycling and find a steady weight you can maintain for the rest of your life.
If this is a problem you’re experiencing and you’re curious about working with me, please don’t hesitate to reach out and book in an initial call with me on the link below or you can email here>>
Do you struggle with sugar cravings? A lot of women believe they’re addicted to sugar. Read on below to see how you can stop sugar cravings in a way that leaves you feeling satisfied.
Firstly, I get it. I love chocolate probably a little too much.
Does this sound familiar? You went out with friends, and everyone was eating cake. You held out for a bit, but finally gave in and grabbed a piece.
Then all of sudden, you’ve “blown your diet”, so you may as well keep eating…aka “The Stuff it Effect!!”
Then, cue the binge. Followed by the guilt. Followed by the diet. And the cycle begins.
Eating by the rules almost always leads to overeating (eventually), because once you deviate from the plan, there’s nothing left to guide you and let’s be honest: you can only deny yourself your favourite foods for so long.
Can you imagine a life where you don’t overeat and you are in control of your cravings?
For most people, “giving in” to food and cravings represents a loss of control.
Craving’s are wrongly thought of as bad and should be eliminated as soon as possible. The only thing correct about this statement is the later: cravings should be dealt with sooner rather than later.
That means: EAT! Eat what you’re craving – Mindfully.
You’re much more likely to eat less and feel satisfied quicker, when you’re present and in the moment whilst eating.
Cravings and the brain?
Cravings are a sign that your body needs something (ie: food – perhaps you’re hungry). NOT that you’re addicted to sugar or carbs.
Sweet foods are highly desirable due the powerful impact sugar has on the reward system in the brain. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released by neurons in this system in response to a rewarding event.
Drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines and nicotine activate the system that leads to intense feelings of reward that can result in cravings and addiction. So drugs and sugar both activate the same reward system in the brain, causing the release of dopamine.
Unfortunately, what many health experts fail to understand, is that while it is indeed true that drugs and sugar light up the same part of the brain, so do hugs and small puppies and smelling flowers and getting a compliment and basically anything that brings humans, pleasure.
So many of us FEEL addicted to sugar. However, it turn out though, just because we ‘feel’ addicted, doesn’t mean we are PHYSICALLY addicted.
When we’re physically addicted to drugs it’s potentially life-threatening to withdraw from. Alcohol withdraw can kill you. Heroin is a horrendous to come off.
We don’t get life-threatening symptoms when we stop eating sugar. We might get a headache and feel lethargic for a few days. That’s it.
How to handle cravings?
Cravings usually kick in because when we deny ourselves something, when we tell ourselves we’re never going to eat again or we try and detox it, we automatically can’t stop thinking about it. Food is literally on the brain.
Don’t think about a pink elephant.
Bet you thought of a pink elephant!
If you think of cravings as your body’s way of communicating with you, then indulging your cravings would mean giving your body what it’s asking for – this is intuitive eating.
In this case, indulging your cravings is something to be celebrated (yep!): it indicates that you’re in tune with your bodies cues, and that you’re able to decode your cravings and decipher what you really want and need.
You probably want (and need) food (if restricting).
You probably need self care, to stand up for yourself, rest, a holiday, setting boundaries, talk to a counselor, pleasure or getting back into a hobby, for example.
When you have a craving for something sweet for example. It’s better to allow yourself to eat one or two biscuits mindfully. Because if you ignore the craving, what could have been a couple of biscuits, often end up being the whole pack later on.
Can you relate?
If you want to stop the self-sabotage with food, you must stop the deprivation.
No deprivation = no binge!
Explore these questions:
1. Why do I overeat? 2. Would I still eat this way if it didn’t impact my weight?
Food, eating and body image are deeply entwined. Many women report to me that they would still continue to eat the way they do (especially emotional eating) if they didn’t put on weight.
So are we worried about the eating or the weight gain? Food for thought there ♥
If you’re trapped in a vicious cycle with food, weight, dieting, and you’re NOT seeing results, you may want to open your mind to the possibility that a new way of thinking (NOT a new diet) could actually change your relationship with food permanently.
Feeling guilty for emotional eating? Please stop. Even though principle seven of intuitive eating is cope with your emotions without using food, it’s still okay to emotionally eat occasionally. Learn why emotional eating isn’t the worst thing you can do and how self-care for emotional eating, not more self-control with food, can help you to decrease the frequency and intensity of your emotional eating.
Self-care for emotional eating
Emotional eating at the end of the day is a coping mechanism. We have trained our brains that when we have a stressful day, we turn to food. It’s become our easy, quick, affordable, go-to. A habit.
And it works, albeit short-term.
But we wouldn’t keep doing it if it didn’t soothe us in the moment.
Emotional eating gets a bad rap, but consider the alternatives. You’re not drinking a bottle of vodka a night and you’re not shooting up heroin. It’s just food.
I see a lot of women who neglect their needs and end up feeling depleted, low on energy, exhausted and tired.
Consequently, they often turn to food to cope and take care of themselves. They stuff down their emotions with food. Particularly in the evening.
But it’s not about the food (unless you’re restricting, but that’s another story for another day). Our eating issues are also often a symptom of something deeper going on.
It’s often a lack of emotional self-care. Saying yes, when you mean no (boundaries). Not expressing how you feel. Not saying what you want.
This is suppressing self-care.
Lack of emotional self-care creates emotional overload, which creates emotional eating.
So, what’s the solution?
Practice new coping mechanisms, without the unrealistic expectation of “not eating” right away.
When you learn to diversify your coping mechanisms and increase your self-care skills, food naturally becomes less and less of a “go-to” over time.
Next time you’re feeling a certain emotion I invite you to step into that emotion and express how you feel and take care of yourself emotionally.
Beating yourself up for eating over feelings often sends people into a diet/restrict mindset, which often leads to binge-eating in the long run. So if you do turn to food to cope ~ eat mindfully, savour each bite, move on and don’t feel guilty about it.
Your body is trying to tell you something. Learn from the experience and grow.
This takes practice, but it’s amazing how our challenges with food start to slip away when we become comfortable at being uncomfortable and looking after ourselves.
You can do the following exercise now, or the next time you’re feeling an intense emotion. I invite you to pause and ask yourself – What am I feeling right now? (Use the Emotional Word Wheel below for clarity).
Reflect on your favourite ways to self-nurture. Perhaps it’s asking for a hug, playing with pets, meditating, reading, or taking a walk in nature? How often do you allow time for these activities?
Self-care, not self-control to help reduce emotional eating. Remember: We all eat for comfort from time-to-time. That does not make you a failure, it’s a normal part of eating.
Halloween is here and there are sweet treats EVERYWHERE! I know when I was in the midst of my overeating struggle, I’d try to control myself around sweets foods. But sooner or later I’d lose control and then tell myself…“I better finish it all now, because I’ll get back on track tomorrow.” The good news is, it doesn’t have to be this way!
How to eat sweet treats without losing control
If you’re looking for support to have it easy with food through Halloween and any time in life, then I am here for you. I once felt totally out of control with food. I binged and purged almost on a daily basis for 15 years.
But here’s what I want you to know:
You can have sweet treats without losing control.
You can eat nourishing foods without fighting to say no to sweets.
You can have any food (yes any) in the house without fearing you’ll lose control.
This can all be second nature, and it can be a part of your life without you having to force it.
The first step
Allowing yourself to eat these foods unconditionally.
Giving yourself permission to eat exactly what you’re craving and hungry for, enables you to take your power back from food. If you tell yourself you can’t have something, it can lead to intense feelings of deprivation that eventually builds into uncontrollable cravings.
What could have been one bar of chocolate enjoyed mindfully, ends up being a whole block of chocolate (plus more) later on.
I know you think you’re broken and a willpower weakling, however, it’s not you per se. It’s your avoidance and the subsequent deprivation of these foods that’s driving you cravings and constant thoughts about food, that result in you overeating.
Usually with overwhelming guilt and the promise to never eat these foods ever again. But we all know how that usually plays out, right?
I know allowing yourself to eat the foods you feel out of control with is really scary. I know you truly believe that if you let yourself eat what ever you wanted, you would sit on the couch all day and eat boxes of donuts.
I’m not setting you up to fail I promise. I’m setting you up to eventually win your fight against food.
How to do it?
It’s important to go slow. This does take practice and patience.
There will be a honeymoon phase where you may want to eat a lot of your previously forbidden foods. This is just a phase and it will pass in time. It’s a normal part of healing your relationship with food for good.
When you have permission to eat any food, you really get to ask yourself for the first time, do I really want it? Do I really want this food now? It removes the “Last Supper” mentality, wherein you eat as much of the forbidden food as you can because tomorrow you will start another diet.
There’s an area of research called habituation, which describes what happens when you have access to foods. The more you are exposed to a particular food, it diminishes the desire to eat it. This has been shown for a variety of foods, including chocolate, pizza and potato chips. However, when someone is chronically on a diet, they don’t go through this normative habituation experience.
And they continue to start their diet over every Monday. We can do better than that.
You can say goodbye to diets and deprivation, for good. It is 100% possible to eat chocolate bars, a donut or a bowl of ice cream, and not feel guilty about it. Or feel the need to keep eating them all ~ with practice.
Building trust with your body and making peace with food is an important first step to not feeling out of control around sweets (or any other food).
If you keep thinking “I can’t control myself around sweets”, please don’t hesitate to read more about my food and body image coaching program Stop Punishing Start Nourishing here>> or get in touch with me here>>
A lot of women often think, “Am I an emotional eater”? We’re told that emotional eating is bad and be stopped at all costs. However, emotional eating is essentially just a coping mechanism that you have turned into a habit. Read on to see if you’re an emotional eater and what you can do to solve the issue.
Am I an emotional eater?
Emotional connections to food are normal; we eat to socialise, express love, have fun, soothe a hurt, and reward ourselves for a job well done. There’s nothing wrong with that!
Emotional eating only becomes a problem when it’s your only way you cope with or avoid your feelings.
When your habit is to use food instead of paying attention to what these emotions are trying to tell you, your underlying needs get squashed down with food until the problem resurfaces again. Fueling the cycle of emotional eating.
Moreover, emotional hunger can never be filled with food. There’s not enough food in the world to solve your personal problems. Real problems require real (mostly non-food) strategies.
10 signs that you might be an emotional eater:
1 – You NEED to eat a very specific food.
2 – The hunger comes on suddenly. Physical hunger comes on slowly and it’s OK to delay eating.
3 – You keep eating even if you are not hungry and to the point of physical discomfort.
4 – You don’t know whether you were even hungry when you ate.
5 – After you eat you are not aware of how much you ate and how it tasted.
6 – You have feelings of shame, guilt, remorse or embarrassment after eating.
7 – You eat because you are bored, tired, lonely, excited, procrastinating – but not physically hungry.
8 – Hunger exists with an uncomfortable emotion – anger, fear, hurt or anxiety.
9 – Emotional eating begins in your mind – thinking about food.
10 – You continually graze or pick because you do not know what you are truly hungry for – nothing seems to hit the spot.
Understanding that we use food for both restricting and consuming — for emotional reasons, rather than physical reasons, is an important step towards making “healthier” choices with food after we stop dieting.
When we understand that we’re being driven to eat by emotional triggers, we have an opportunity to do something about it…like deal with our real feelings and address what’s actually going on.
If you’re reading this, there is a good chance that you struggle with food. It could be emotional eating, bingeing, or weight and food obsession. And you truly believe the answer to it all is in a diet and getting to your ideal weight. Let’s explore this from a totally different point of view and ask yourself – am I an emotionally nourished woman?
Emotionally nourished woman
Here’s an example. Imagine you come home from work and you’ve had a really lousy day. Everything that could go wrong, did.
You feel stressed because you had an argument with your boss and now you’re really upset. You don’t know whether to cry or scream.
So, what do you do?
You find yourself in your kitchen going through the cupboards until you find a packet of biscuits and you start to eat them.
You don’t sit down, you don’t get a plate, you eat them standing up, straight from the packing. You’re numbing out of what’s going on and stuffing it all down with the biscuits. Until the whole packet is almost gone.
Does this sound familiar?
Here is where the question comes in, are you emotionally nourished?
If you feel overwhelmed, stressed, upset, angry, frustrated or lonely, how are you feeling and feeding those emotions?
Do you ignore, deflect, stuff it down, or turn away from them and pretend they aren’t there?
If you are turning to food, or anything else such as alcohol, drugs, scrolling through social media, then you aren’t actually feeling your emotions in the way that they are wanting to be acknowledged and fed.
The reality is, in that moment you are turning to food as a way of emotionally coping and feeding yourself. Food is not the answer, it isn’t what your heart is truly hungry for.
Food will never change or address how you truly feel, so we need to start slowly taking food out of the equation, so you can start becoming an emotionally nourished woman (who doesn’t need biscuits whenever her emotions appear).
How to be an emotionally nourished woman
Nourishment means fulfilling our basic need as humans, to find deep connection and meaning, live purposefully and feel a sense of belonging. As we go through various life experiences, the type and frequency of the nourishment we seek inevitably changes.
We all need physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual nourishment. To start exploring your own nourishment needs, begin identify what sources you are utilising in each of these areas.
And then, allow yourself to feel the emotion. Let it out.
I know it’s the most uncomfortable feeling in the world. However, this step is where a lot of us get caught or give up entirely. Most of us have been taught to “suck it up” and move on, but that just makes matters worse.
Emotions demand to be felt. If you don’t allow the feelings, they will find a way to make themselves known (through things like eating).
If you truly want to take back the power in your life from any of these issues, learn to be ok with not being ok. Let the emotion move through you so it doesn’t stay in you and become something worse.
It helps me to also use this mantra: “It’s ok for me to feel this.” Say it over and over again until the emotion has moved through.
Lastly, ask yourself, what has this taught me?
After you’ve checked in and feeled the feels, you have an opportunity to learn and grow from this experience.
When you look for the wisdom in the lesson, you allow yourself to move forward from it.
To repair your relationship with food, it is now about you becoming an emotionally nourished woman.