The Roller Coaster Ride of Emotional Eating
You’ve had another bad day. Your narcissistic boss criticized you this morning in front of your colleagues, so for lunch instead of tuna salad, you grabbed a bag of potato chips and a chocolate bar. Just as you left the office, your mother called and interrogated you about your extra pounds and frumpy wardrobe, so you stopped at a convenience store for a double shot of chocolate cupcakes instead of going to the gym.
Now you’re home for dinner, and you swear you can hear the ice cream in the freezer calling your name. Before you devour another pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Money ice cream and promise yourself you’ll start your diet again tomorrow, consider trying these coping techniques to deal with emotional eating.
Examine the Real Issues in Your Life
Eating too much or binge eating to cope with troubling emotions is common, but unfortunately it’s also ineffective. You’re still going to have to deal with your boss, your mother and the other issues in your life that are renting space in your soul.
Instead of finding another job or setting boundaries with the people in your everyday life, you believe that going on a diet is going to solve all your problems. Trying to control your eating, after all, sure seems a lot easier than dealing with the dissatisfaction with your job and personal relationships.
To make the changes in your life that promote healthy eating habits and assuage your sugar-craving beast, you’re going to have to start noticing your triggers a little more closely and start keeping a journal.
The Write Way to Lose
When people write down everything they eat every day, it “practically guarantees weight-loss success,” says Linda Knittel in the Natural Health article “Write Yourself Thin.” Dieters who track their food lose twice as many pounds compared to those who don’t reveals a health insurance company research study.
In another study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 1,685 overweight or obese men and women who kept a food diary lost twice the amount of weight compared to those who did not record their food. They also reported to a weekly support group, exercised moderately for 30 minutes a day, and ate a restricted diet that included fruits, vegetables and low-fat and non-fat yogurt. (source: The Australian).
Write the Pounds Away
Once you start tracking and losing excess pounds, you’ll gain “a keen understanding of why and when you overeat” says Knittel. Writing down what you eat each day keeps you accountable. It will also reveal food patterns that prevent you from getting down to your desired weight.
In a journal or notebook, suggests Knittel, you should write down four things about your meals every day:
- What you eat
- When and Where you eat
- How hungry you were
- What you were feeling
Be as specific as possible. If you were reading a book while eating or working during your lunch, make sure to write it down. Write down the nutritional information of your food too. Elaborate about your feelings in your journal. Feelings can create powerful desires to overeat. Most feelings around overeating are boredom, anxiety, anger, frustration, fear, nervous and even happiness. The most important thing is to look for patterns.
Once you see the unhealthy patterns in your eating, think about ways to replace negative behaviors with positive ones. For example if you find you’re eating more because you’re angry, find other ways to deal with your anger. Exercising is an excellent way to burn off feelings of anger and resentment. By replacing an unhealthy behavior like compulsively overeating with healthy behaviors like pounding the treadmill, you’ll learn to not to reach for the carbohydrates in times of stress to cope with angry feelings.
What’s Eating You?
Writing down your feelings will help you address your underlying issues from eating too much. Perhaps your boss embarrasses you the same way your fourth grade gym teacher did in front of others when you couldn’t finish running that last lap around the track. So instead of taking care of yourself around your boss today, you feel as if you’re the same trapped little child who can’t stand up to an adult in a position of power.
Maybe you’re taking on too many responsibilities for others, so you don’t have time to plan your own healthy meals and find the best diet foods to lose weight. Do you really need to work full time, take care of all the household chores and pay the bills and balance the checkbook? Is it really necessary to put the needs of everyone else before your own?
By tracking your food intake and analyzing your eating patterns, you will be able to take back some of the control in your life, make healthier eating choices and lose weight.
The Australian. “Writing Down Every Morsel Doubles Weight Loss When Dieting.” July 12, 2008.
Knittel, Linda. “Write Yourself Thin.” Natural Health. May/June 2003, Vol. 33 Issue 4, p72.