Unfortunately, we have all used food basically like a drug. We use it to help ourselves cope with stress and emotions. What we have to do is first IDENTIFY what exactly is making you feel the way you do.. These emotions can be feelings of pressure, sadness, anger or simply being anxious. Now that you have done that, we can break down the cycle and start getting back in control of when, why and how you eat!
Identify Your Emotional Triggers
The best way to identify your own emotional triggers is through personal reflection. Facing your issues by bringing them out of your subconscious and into your conscious reality is the most empowering thing you can do. Take full advantage of a fitness diary. Write down not just what you eat every day but the emotional circumstances surrounding each meal and snack. From now on, every time you reach for a bite, I want you to stop and ask yourself the questions below so you can uncover the psychological and emotional issues that are triggering your unhealthy eating habits. Write down the answers so you can’t push them to the back of your mind when you’re done.
1. Are you hungry?
Are you experiencing physical signs of hunger? Is your stomach growling? Do you feel weak or tired? Has it been longer than four hours since you last ate? It’s not hard to figure out whether you’re genuinely hungry or whether you’re eating for a different reason like stress. If you’ve answered these questions and determined that you are hungry, then eat. If not, it’s time for the next question.
2. Are you depressed or anxious?
Think of these following questions: Did you just get in a fight with someone? Anxious about a work-related or school deadline? Whatever it might be, make sure you write down in detail exactly what you feel and why you think you’re feeling it. If you don’t get in touch with your emotions and their cause, you’ll continue to stumble along in life with an absolute guarantee of failure.
3. Can you address whatever emotions you may have uncovered immediately and/or in an appropriate way rather than suppressing those emotions?
For example, if you had an argument with your mom, can you call her to talk it through? If you’re feeling anxious about a work- or school-related deadline, can you bust your butt a little more to make yourself feel more on top of it? If you can resolve the problem right then and there, do it! Facing these types of issues is tough — and it always seems easier to try and numb yourself with food. But once you start taking a closer look at your behavior and analyzing your feelings, it gets easier and easier. You might not always have the means to resolve an issue or a situation at the exact moment that it’s triggering you to behave self-destructively, but it’s all about doing what you can, learning from your mistakes, and being self-aware.
4. How can you turn this problem into an opportunity?
Maybe you’ve recently ended a relationship with a long-term spouse or significant other. Or say you’ve just been fired from a job. Instead of seeing these kinds of scenarios as permanent blows to your self-esteem, view them in a different light. Sure, you’re probably in a lot of pain right now, but maybe the relationship had been over for a while and there’s someone better out there for you. If you’re dealing with unemployment, tell yourself that losing your job doesn’t change the fact that you’re a kick-ass, smart, capable person who’ll have plenty of future offers. Stay positive. Accept that sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, and you’ll be able to stay strong through the low moments and find meaning in the pain.
Establish Healthy Patterns
Now you have the tools for identifying, acknowledging, and bringing to the surface the emotions that have sabotaged you in the past. Next, find some activities that comfort and interest you so you’ll have the power to combat your emotions without resorting to food. Think about what (apart from eating!) soothes you. What makes you feel beautiful or sexy and desirable? If you steer yourself toward feelings of self-worth, you’ll pick activities and behaviors that inherently contradict self-loathing and self-sabotage. Take a bubble bath and listen to tunes you love. Go for a longer-than-usual walk with your pup. Go out dancing with friends. Get a massage or a mani-pedi. Learn to reward and nurture yourself with things that make you feel happy to be alive, and you will break the cycle of self-destruction caused by emotional overeating!