Now that summer is over and the temps are getting cooler, it’s only natural to get a case of the blahs. But don’t give up and undo your good efforts and hard work from previous months—I won’t let you! Whether you’re seriously going through a rough time or just find yourself a bit bored with life in general, think about these rules the next time you want to Band-Aid the situation with a bag of Doritos.
1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. This is one of Bethenny’s rules in Naturally Thin. Whenever I have the urge to eat because I am happy/sad/bored/anxious, I always try to pause, just for a moment, and ask myself: “How will I feel after I eat this?” The answer is usually somewhere along the lines of bloated, gross and guilty. I don’t want to feel that way. If I’m feeling like that, then I’ll be tempted to smother these uncomfortable emotions with yet another cookie, ice cream cone, slice of pizza or whatever the craving of the day is. And then the cycle starts all again. It is not fun. Take control of your actions and break these patterns by…
2. Making a plan. I know, I know, you’ve heard this before, but I just can’t stress it enough! Somewhere I read “if you fail to make a plan, then you’re planning to fail.” And it’s true. Don’t just hope for the best and see what happens. Make changes happen by setting clear intentions on how you will put an end to emotional and mindless eating.
If you head straight to the vending machine at 2:59pm every day to ward off the afternoon blues, devise a plan for how you will break this habit. Perhaps you will deny yourself of this treat every Wednesday for a month. Once that becomes easier, try two days a week. And so on. Also be prepared with healthy snacks (that you actually enjoy) and then…
3. Learn how to side-step impulses: I know it’s annoying when people advise you to “Just call a friend” when you feel like melting away your worries in a pint of ice cream, but actually…it kind of works. Last Friday night I got home from work and was in the mood to snack. Not because I was hungry, but because it was finally the end of the week and I wanted to “celebrate.” I tossed a handful of nuts into my mouth and instead of going back for more, I froze right in my tracks and intervened on what was happening.
I didn’t have any other snacks in the apartment (which is how I set myself up for success), and even though I could have gone across the street to get something, I decided to stay put. I grabbed the Us Weekly that I’d been meaning to read all week and curled up on the couch until my boyfriend got home and made us dinner, almost two hours later. It was 9pm by the time we sat down to eat, but because I averted my attention away from food, I was able to get through my impulse to snack just fine.
And the truth of the matter is, eating to avoid emotions does nothing to help you. Yes, perhaps for a few minutes you’ll feel a bit of a reprieve, but then reality sets in and you’re still stuck with the same problems you had before. Only now, you’re feeling guilty and even more tempted to dig into a pint of ice cream. If you have serious issues with emotional eating, I recommend checking out the book, End Emotional Eating. It helps shed light on why people respond to emotions with food and offers realistic action steps to work through these issues.
While I occasionally still find myself heading to my local froyo shop after a bad day, I have come such a long way with emotional eating. All of these tips have helped me tremendously and I hope they will do the same for you!
Tell me: Are you an emotional eater? What emotions trigger this habit and what foods do you reach for?
Ellen Collis is a blogger at Wannabe Health Nut and Health Coach in NYC, who graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free health consultation to discuss how she can assist you with your nutrition and lifestyle goals. She would love nothing more than to help you have more energy, feel fabulous in your own skin and live a healthy life that doesn’t require giving up your favorite foods.