We’ve all done it haven’t we? Most of us at one time or another has reached for a piece of candy or stuffed a bunch of chips into their mouths when we were feeling stressed or out of sorts.
I have done this many times in my life. I would still consider myself an emotional eater. It’s not always a lack of will on my part either. This may sound like an excuse, but I believe I have gotten past the notion of chomping on a pile of chips or slamming a couple of cookies because of some sorry state of mind I have self-authored.
No, my problem currently comes from lack of planning. Not meal planning either. I guess a better way of saying it would be I do not prepare myself for times when I may need some food because of changes in my day.
In my meal plan, I often use Intermittent Fasting (I.F. for short) as part of a fat loss plan. Sometimes, I encounter unforeseen emergencies which end up causing me problems with my regimen. Usually this comes in the form of staying late at work, late at a family member’s house or late at a volunteer project.
Let me give you an example, I typically choose an I.F. period later in the week and it usually fits into my plan. It works if I can go thru the day without an unforeseen job change or family emergency. If the aforementioned happens, I usually try to power thru it and just get thru the day (and most times it works). Saying and doing, however, are two completely different things. A 10 hour fast can oftentimes turn into 18 and I then I end up feeling weak and unable to concentrate and when it happens, I tend to make poor choices.
So what do you do? How do you deal with these dilemmas? It can be very difficult!
For many of us, boredom, guilt, deadlines fear, worry, loneliness, anger or sadness we are experiencing in our lives gets the better of us. It’s important to know WE author most of these difficulties. So how do we get over these little roadblocks? For one, stop “feeding” your emotions. It’s not just our stomachs that we are filling. We let food comfort us. It’s a temporary fix. Emotions alone are not the sole cause of this problem. Physical and mental strain, sleep deprivation, poor diet and nutritional deficiencies are also triggers for emotional eating.
The biggest problem we having during these little binges is WHAT we eat and how we eat it. During these moments of physical and emotional distress we eat in the absence of hunger cues. We always seem to choose unhealthy comfort foods or eat when we are already full. Ever eat a medium size bag of Doritos and are still hungry? I am not a Doritos fan but I know people who could snarf a whole bag of those nasties and STILL be hungry. If it is the case, then something has to be out of balance.
So how can you tell the difference between emotional hunger and true hunger? Emotional hunger generally needs to be satisfied immediately. Ever been ravenously hungry? Like out of control! It’s a classic case of emotional hunger. Emotional hunger is typically satisfied by specific cravings for specific foods. Usually these foods are in the form of sweets or some other simple carbohydrate. You then gorge yourself and feel awful afterwards. It doesn’t feel that way when you are in the midst of it does it?
So how do you get off of it?
Turning mindful indulgences into mindful eating is no easy venture. You have to be diligent and there are some strategies to follow.
The biggest thing you can do is figure out why you are eating the way you are in one of these situations. Are you mad? Are you emotionally hurt? Are you stressed? Are you bored? Figure out WHY you are eating this way. If you can, take a moment to be present and mindful. Perhaps you can close your eyes and take a deep breath or find something which will center you. It sounds kind of foolish, but I have actually done this at times and it is very helpful. Especially in a work setting.
If you do find something good and nutritious to eat, pay attention to how your hunger and fullness change with each healthy bite. Don’t just mindlessly put “snacks” into your pie hole. Try to engage your other senses by starting to smell the food, chew it and savor it and do it in a slow manner. There should never be a rush to eat. Never. When you chew your food, it slows down and manages consumption. Digestion actually starts in the mouth. Your salivary glands and mastication ready the food for digestion in the stomach.
I know these things can be hard, trust me. If you have had a bad day, it’s easy to reach for some sandwich cookies or bag of chips. But before you do guage your hunger. Are you really hungry? Or are you bored? If you are the latter, then go for a walk, call a friend, read or go tackle a household chore. Do not indulge yourself in mindless eating. We do enough of it during our lifetimes. Now is the time to change your patterns!
Lastly, try meditation. It can work wonders.
If none of those tricks works and you are TRULY hungry. Try some of these snacks instead. Choose these foods that keep blood sugar levels on target. Dump the sugar bombs and salty treats. Did you know what certain foods can actually help counteract anxiety and worry? It’s true.
Here are some of my favorite snacks.
65% Chocolate – Yes chocolate. Go ahead and eat some, I like the Trader Joe’s Brand. It’s organic. I don’t eat a full serving either. Just a couple of squares. I usually eat it in isolation or by itself. Sometimes I have a very small glass of coconut milk with it.
Hot Tea – Warm drinks are calming, and the compounds in some teas promote relaxation. Chamomile is a good choice.
Nuts – Choose almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts and pistachios which contain fats that can stave off inflammation cause by stress. Do not eat handfuls of them and overindulge. 1 oz. is a good measure. About 10 -12 of each nut. I eat these in isolation as well.
Oranges – I am not a big a big proponent of fruit, especially if you are trying to cut fat. However, fruits rich in Vitamin C boost the immune system and help fight inflammation. This helps with anxiety.
Raw Vegetables – Chomping on some crunchy carrots, celery, and other vegetables helps relieve tension and can help you get a lot of good nutrients. Juicing is always a good alternative. Check out Mike Cernovich’s juice site. Lastly, don’t ruin the vegetable experience by using store bought dips. They will add extra calories and most likely some trans fats and sugar. One of my favorites is slicing tomatoes and just adding salt and pepper. Yum.
Water – Are you hydrated? More oftentimes than not, you are dehydrated and lacking in your H2O consumption. Drink some water and see if you
I know it can be a struggle. But you can do it!
Be the BEST YOU EVER!