Some people, when emotionally upset, just cannot eat. Others, the emotional eaters among us, seem unable to stop ourselves reaching for something to fill up a psychological emptiness with food – any food. Here are a few ideas that will hopefully turn into effective tips for emotional eaters.
1. Thought-Stopping: When negative thoughts and emotions threaten, shout “STOP” in your head and turn your mind to a pleasant image or set of thoughts. Theoretically, the mind cannot deal with two opposing sets of feelings, so you can cancel out negagive emotion this way, and so stop yourself reaching for food as a comfort.
2. Take Control of Your LIfe: Imagine you drive a bus, filled with every significant person, past and present as your passengers. If they offer critical comments, ask “Just who is the driver here?” Then get those negative passengers off your bus and think positive about who is in charge – YOU- and how much you can accomplish by leaving their hurtfulness behind.
3. Friends and Family: They are a great way to distract yourself from that cookie jar, those extra fries, when you feel down and in need of comfort. Talk to someone you love who loves you. Share your emotions with them, let it all out and gain a healthier type of comfort, and so effectively overcoming the temptation to be an emotional eater.
4. Laugh: Try to keep your sense of humor when your emotions are all over the place. Research has shown that people who can laugh, or see the funny side of life, suffer less tension, anger and depresseion when faced with stressful situations. There is optimism, hope and love in laughter, so with this as part of your coping mechanism, you can break the habit of emotional eating.
5. Think Positive: If you are stressed or upset, negative thinking can take over. Say for example, you are trying to lose 10 pounds and get stuck for a while with only a five pound loss. Instead of thinking “I am a failure, might as well give up and eat that chocolate chip muffin with my skinny latte,” tell yourself you are not failing, but succeeding after trying so hard and getting half way to your goal.
6. Take Action: This includes some exercise of course. When you feel despondent and in need of something edible to cheer you up, get up and go for a quick, brisk walk. If you are at work, run up and down the stairs a few times. At home, put on your favorite music and dance for 20 minutes. Another positive action is to keep a diary or journal. Note the times you feel low, and what you eat at those times. Be honest and write down WHY you felt that way. Look often at your entries and identify those triggers, then change eating to action. You could have a clear out of the people and situations that bring you down, or volunteer in your community or help a neighbor. There are tons of actions you can take to effectively overcome emotional eating.
7. Love Yourself: Think of yourself as a unique human being who is not perfect, but who tries to deal with life the best way they can. AND WHO OFTEN SUCCEEDS! Stop beating yourself up; instead, slow down, relax and give yourself a pat on the back now and then. You deserve it.
These are just a few basic suggestions or tips for effectively overcoming emotional eating. To break the habit requires some action, distraction, control, laughter and positive thinking. You have all the ingredients for success. And remember, munching four cookies one day does not mean you have lost the battle with emotional eating. Just have one the next day instead to redress the balance. That is what it is all about really, keeping your life and emotions in balance. You can do it.