Pretty much everyone who knows me (including my 1,181 Facebook friends) is aware of the fact that that I am an avid Bethenny Frankel supporter. Whether you love her, hate her or simply just don’t get her, there is one thing I can say about this savvy businesswoman: She makes a heck of a lot of sense (and money!).
After reading Naturally Thin, I stopped obsessing about food; The SkinnyGirl Dish taught me that healthy cooking doesn’t have to be labor-intensive and A Place of Yes prompted me—immediately—to pursue a career as a nutrition counselor.
Here’s where where my journey with food and emotional eating began…
After first sharing my struggles with emotional eating, many readers wanted to know more about how I finally got a handle on my cathartic chewing. What are my secrets? How did I do it?
Well, I’m more than happy to share my tips with you, but just know right now that the dish I’m about to deliver might not be as tasty as you would like.
The truth of the matter is this: It’s not easy making consistently healthy food choices, whether you’re walking with a skip in your step that day, or there’s a gray cloud hanging over your head. The sooner you accept that, the better.
If you continue to wish it was easy, or that you were in the .01 percent of people who can eat everything they desire and not gain weight, you won’t succeed. (But, eww, don’t you want your heart to be healthy anyway?) Place your energy towards figuring out how you can make small improvements and develop a healthy lifestyle that you also enjoy. It gets easier, I promise.
But let’s rewind a bit. When I started putting the pieces of my life back together after losing my job, I picked up Bethenny Frankel’s book, Naturally Thin on a whim. I knew that if nothing else, Bethenny would make me laugh, which is something I desperately needed at that time.
And I did. A lot. But I honestly didn’t expect to be so inspired. This is not a celebrity who tells you that she maintains her size-2 figure by hula hooping for ten minutes each day or chasing her baby around the house. She’s honest and real, and quite frankly, her no-b.s. approach works! At least for me it did.
After reading the book a second time, I started loaning it out to friends. I’ve lost track on its whereabouts, but luckily, I still recall several of the key components.
Don’t Like It? STOP EATING IT — Pronto
How many times have you taken a bite of a bland piece of chicken or tried a new flavor of chips and thought, Eh, this isn’t very good. Yet you continue to eat it. And then you reach for something else—something unhealthy—in order to feel satiated. Next time, stop dead in your tracks and find something reasonable that you know you will enjoy. Trust me, the homemade nachos you just burned in your microwave won’t get tastier with each bite; I learned that the hard way. It’s quite the opposite actually….
Nothing Tastes As Good As the First Few Bites
I always, always remind myself of this when I’m eating dessert. You might disagree, but think about this the next time you dig into a yummy slice of cheesecake. Sure, the fourth, fifth, sixth bites will be good, but they will never, ever be good as the first few bites. That’s when you need to ask yourself, Is it worth it?
Eating Nothing, Taste Everything
Bethenny lives for this rule. Personally, I’m still working on it. She’ll order soup, a crab cake appetizer, a side of veggies, maybe even some bruschetta and then steal nibbles of steak off her dining partner’s plate. See? Eat nothing (to its entirety), taste everything. I personally prefer enjoying one entree. Only now, I almost always start my meal with a salad or vegetable and I leave something, even if it’s just a few bites, left on my plate.
Think About, and Tune In to What You’re Really Craving
If you wake up in the morning with a hankering for honey wheat pretzels dipped in cottage cheese, have it. Is your leftover Chinese takeout calling your name? Finish it. If you wake up and can’t decide what you’re in the mood for…wait. Have a cup of coffee, maybe a piece of fruit. If you eat something just because the clock says it’s time to eat, you might end up scarfing down a sausage-egg-cheese bagel sandwich in four big, messy bites on your way to work without even tasting it! (Oops!)
But the trick is, Balance your account, as Frankel says. If breakfast was all carbs, get those veggies in at lunch. This brings me to rule #5…
You Can’t Have Everything You Want When You Want It
What are you? Twelve?! Bethenny’s words. Not mine. But it’s true. We teach this to our children, so why shouldn’t we follow suit when it comes to our health? Go on, order that juicy cheeseburger you’ve been thinking about since Thursday. Swap the fries for a salad (unless you really want them and trust yourself to have just a few), and leave a bite of beef on your plate. And nope, sorry, this is not the time to order a milkshake. You already had your treat.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up When You Fall Off the Track
Stop it. Don’t berate yourself when you slip up. First of all, you don’t deserve it. Secondly, if you get upset, the chances of saying, “Ah, to heck with it!” and eating even more is, Ohhh, 99.9999 percent, I’d say. I was feeling blue the other day and made myself a generous bowl of Cookies ‘n’ Cream. After I licked the bowl clean, I went back to the kitchen for more. I took a few bites (yes, out of the carton) and stopped. And you know what, I was proud of myself. For me, being aware of what I was doing and how it was making me feel (bad!), was an accomplishment. Celebrate those small successes…they do make a difference!
Let me also add that I think it’s important to know what kind of emotional eater you are. Unfortunately for me, I’m what you might call an every day mood muncher. If I’m feeling bored, sad, stressed-that’s when I turn to food-during life’s every day obstacles and emotions. (The Sunday Blues? Forget about it!) Although, I’m not a “big events” emotional eater. I made it through my father’s death and my brother’s two tours in Iraq without enlisting help from Ben and Jerry. And now that I know this about myself, I can be more aware of my emotions and how to better control my actions towards them.
Bethenny initially helped me conquer my food demons, but over time I have learned to heal myself and have developed my own set of “rules.” Check back every other week on ANM to get my tips on how to lose weight without dieting!
Tell me readers: Anyone else struggle with emotional eating? What are your cravings—and what triggers them? (Please tell me I’m not alone!)
Ellen Collis is a published magazine writer and Health Coach in NYC, who is currently enrolled at 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.