The hardest part about weight and controlling what you are eating, in my opinion, is its connection to our emotions and state of being. If we are very happy or achieved new milestones and accomplishments, we want to reward ourselves with food. If we are upset or going through a rough patch, we want to self medicate with food to improve our mood and feel better. The problem in both cases, for me particularly with the latter, is that while intending to reward or medicate with food to be happy or fix a problem, in the long run we are actually creating the opposite feeling while continuing to manifest negative patterns. Now, I don’t think that just because you decided to follow a healthy lifestyle, you can never have “cheat” moments. I don’t believe that feeling constantly restricted is helpful at all, however if you have a history of emotional or habitual eating based on your current life circumstances, how do you prevent yourself from sabotaging the progress you have made? This is tricky and a potentially slippery slope for me, especially finding ways to take myself out of my own regimented mind in order to choose differently. I don’t know if this is something that you have dealt with but here are some solutions that have worked for me in the past and that I continually call to when I find myself in a potentially sabotaging state. I hope you will find them helpful.
1. Are you hungry? Identify if you really are hungry. This is a great and simple tactic that I learned while I was working with a fitness program a few years ago. If you are continually opening the fridge or the pantry, simply stop and think “What am I feeling right now?” If the feeling is truly hunger, then you can eat something. If the feeling is “sadness, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, etc.” then work towards finding ways of filling that void with things other then food. (Journal, Meditate, Take a bath, Go for a walk, Listen to music, Connect with a friend, etc.)
2. Have an escape plan. Make a list of alternative ways to tackle your emotions. I made a short list for you above but it can be anything you love and enjoy doing. For me I find that often times if I am unable to stop opening and reopening the fridge, I simply need to get in the car and go somewhere else. A coffee shop, library, a park. Anywhere that takes me out of my own space and allows me to focus on something else. For some people, it could be as easy as having a cup of tea or doing some breathing exercises. Start to figure out what works for you and make a list so you have your tool box ready to go when you need it.
3. Make a shopping list. When going food shopping, make a list and stick with it! If you are in a vulnerable space regarding food, it is very important to make a shopping list and stick with the items you know are a part of the healthy lifestyle you have created. As soon as you start allowing “exceptions” to enter your grocery cart you are in danger of creating more and more exceptions until your original eating plan is hardly recognizable. If you take time to make a thought out list and follow it when you get to the store, you will be less likely to buy the foods you know you shouldn’t be keeping at the house.
4. Don’t skip meals. Make sure you are following your plan and eating enough at meal times. If you go several hours without eating or skip meals, you are less likely to be able to fight off the temptations later on when you are actually very hungry in addition to feeling whatever emotions caused you to not eat or sabotage your plan in the first place.
5. Practice & Forgiveness. Many of our emotional eating patterns are habituated and they may take some time to break. That is ok. This is a lifelong practice and it will be a constant trial and error to find the things that work for you and help you break your pattern of behavior. If you do have a moment of weakness, forgive yourself. Holding on to the resentment and feelings of failure will only make you more likely to continue down a bad path. Forgive yourself and move on, then try a different technique the next time and eventually you will find what works for you!
I hope these tips are helpful for you and you can find ways to apply them to your own life and circumstance. As always please share your experiences with me in the comment section below. I love hearing from you and learning from your experience!
Have a wonderful week and I hope to hear from you about how your journey is going!