How To Avoid Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is one of the hardest things to combat when you are trying to lose weight. When our animal instincts take over, this shortcuts our rational thought processes and our societally conditioned behavior processes. We temporarily lose it.
Since I've been reading about emotional eating today in the PEERtrainer community, I wanted to offer some of the things I do when I get stressed/upset instead of grabbing many cookies (which I tend to do about once every 6 months). This list is for myself as well.
Top Tips For Avoiding Emotional Eating
Call your friends. This is a common one. If one is not home, I literally move down my mobile phone list to call the next one and so forth until someone is home. Might sound strange, but I need to feel heard and I'm not picky about who is on the receiving end. Of course, if you use this strategy, you have to be available to them as well, which I am.
I take a long shower or bath.
A shower/bath is filling up the tub but still keeping the shower head on as well. (sorry to the environmentalists out there but I'm not really using more water than a long shower). I keep the lights off (currently I have a window in the bathroom that produces great light, if I don't have a window, I light candles). I stay in there as long as I want with the water beating down on me. I tend to go through many emotions, crying, to relaxing, to happy to crying again to relaxed. It works really well.
I play catch and release, shopping style.
I'm not proud to admit this but we're talking selfish strategy here. I go out, shopping all day long. I walk and walk and walk and walk and shop.Then a few days later, I return and return and return.I usually end up keeping one thing that I bought, but I do find that when I shop when I'm stressed/upset, I don't really buy things that I like and when I'm in a better mood, I see that immediately.I'm not proud of it but this strategy works VERY well. Don't go to the high end boutiques though, they won't let you return. Stick to the department store/chain shopping.
Pick up a book or magazine.
Nothing gets me out of my stress or funk better than a really good book or magazine. Sometimes I pick up books directly related to health and fitness (Dr. Weil's 8 weeks to optimal health is still one of my favorites). Often they are even books I've already read. I go back for a refresher or a pick me up. Other times I opt for light reading in the form of a popular magazine like Health or Allure. Whichever I choose, it gets me away from the snacks and towards new ideas.
I go to the gym or out for a walk for 5 minutes with my FAVORITE music.
Yes, I commit to 5 minutes because I know once I get there, I'll be there for a the full workout but if I commit to "sweating it out", I just get tired and I don't go. The 5 minute rule works well. The only caveat is that I have to have my favorite music on my ipod and it MUST be charged. Music is proven to change your mood and your spirit and sometimes within one minute it change change everything.
The PEERtrainer community also had some great advice about the psychology of food and emotional eating if you'd like more suggestions.
Wow. I feel so much better after writing this. Thanks for reading!
The Importance of Social Support To Combat Emotional Eating
Group and peer support is a highly proven method for losing weight as well as with emotional eating isses. But it is one thing to learn how to lose weight and eat more healthy, it is another thing to put this into practice on a consistent basis. Friends and family are of limited use because there is only so much burden they can bear. Getting the support of an anonymous group of people each day can make the critical difference. Self-monitoring is the other method, backed by volumes of research, that is highly correlated with weight loss success. You keep a log of your food, exercise, goals and thoughts. When you do this each day it keeps you accountable to yourself, and brings this aspect of your life to the top of your mental agenda. When you are writing each day, you are thinking about the things you write about. This begins to change how you think and facilitates better decision making. When you make better decisions, and have a broad support network, you are very likely to lose weight for the long term. When you do both these things, the odds of success increase dramatically.
A free, online resource that facilities both social support and self-monitoring in an easy to use (and anonymous format) is PEERtrainer. You sign up, start or join small groups and teams. You log your food each day, and the others in your group see your log and provide support, motivation and accountability each day. It is like a virtual support group available on the internet whenever you need it. It is highly effective and has been featured in The New York Times, Fitness Magazine, Women's World, Business Week, ABC News, CNET, Fast Company...
Diets That Work
You have heard over and over that diets don't work. The traditional American idea of dieting is "portion control" or reducing your caloric intake. These approaches fail because you are only reducing portions of unhealthy and fatty foods. There are new diet approaches out there that seek to fundamentally change what you eat. These diets slash the amounts of saturated fats and sugar that you eat and radically increase the amount of plant-based foods. The Fat Smash Diet (by Dr Ian Smith) is one such popular approach, and Eat to Live by Dr Joel Fuhrman is another. These approaches are not about lowering carbs, or getting more protein or counting Weight Watcher points. They about fundamentally restructuring your eating habits. When you reorder your diet to eliminate processed foods, slash dairy and meat consumption and increase your intake of fruit, vegetables, beans, rice- you will lose weight and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other diseases. Improper nutrition is at the root of most diseases. Animal based foods contain cholesterol and boost the levels in your body. Plants do not contain any, and help reduce levels in your body. As blood cholesterol levels decrease, cancers of the liver, rectum, colon, male lung, female lung, breast, childhood leukemia, adult leukemia, childhood brain, stomach and esophagus levels will decrease. The more you reduce meat, dairy and processed foods in your diets, the healthier you will be.