As a blogger I have chosen a different path for myself, since this is a thing of passion for me–I do not look to guest blog anywhere, unless I am invited and can be of benefit to the readers, and I NEVER invite anyone to guest post on this blog… unless I can explicitly trust that person when it comes to things of nutrition, and their approach to it. To date I had… well, ZERO guest posts on this blog, although I featured a couple of readers of this blog. So, you see, what I do, I really love, and what I really love, I do protect.
I first “met” Tandi when she enrolled in one of my boot camps. She had her goals and I was more than happy in trying to help her reach them. Before long, I could not help but notice her well-thought, well-educated contributions in the Boot Camp group. I was impressed… and that does not happen often. It was like she was a kindred spirit from another time and place. I do not know that to date I had anything to disagree with her about–the longer she is a part of the group, the more I discover that we are of the same school of thought when it comes to nutrition. It puts me at ease, knowing that if I do not get to respond to a query in the group and Tandi gets there first, she will provide them with quality information.
It was not until a couple of days ago that I saw Tandi’s credentials… and then all things made sense . I asked her to do a guest post on Vegalicious about a topic that is very close and dear to many Boot Campers’ (and readers’) hearts–Emotional Eating.
Please enjoy Tandi’s post. I know I did when I read it–I had myself some grand happy dancing, shouting time (yes, there were even some occasional “Amen, sister!” escaping my lips ), since it seems we have the same approach to dealing with “problems”–there is not patty-caking! DEAL WITH IT! is our approach… but in a gentle kind of way.
Tandi Hartle received her Bachelors degree in Natural Health Science from theUniversityofNatural Medicineand then went on to get a certificate in plant-based nutrition fromCornellUniversity. Tandi has also received certificates in Nutritional Herbology, Aromatherapy, and Raw Culinary Arts. She is the author of “America’s Health Crisis” and her work has been published in Natural News. She is a highly sought after lecturer and speaker and has presented for Utah Valley University, New Mexico Midwives Association, Balance Wellness Center, and Vitality Natural Foods. Her research is focused on how plant based foods affect the physiological aspects of healing.
Ten Ways to Conquer Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is pervasive in our fast paced, self-centered, convenience driven society. We have accepted the idea that food is a comfort, a reward, and necessary for proper celebration. Somehow we lost our grasp on the reality that food is to nourish us not to be entertainment, comfort or a reward. This attitude toward unhealthy food is ingrained in us from a very young age, from the first time we came home crying because someone hurt our feelings and mom hands us a cookie to make it all better, or we are rewarded with a lollipop for good behavior, or go out to our favorite restaurant for getting straight A’s in school. We are constantly rewarded, comforted, and celebrated with unhealthy food. Every holiday, birthday, promotion, graduation, every momentous occasion in life is celebrated with a spread of unhealthy, non-nutritive food substances as a tradition. This unfortunate state of our society has led to food addiction and emotional eating that has left us nutrient deprived and emotionally addicted.
As we learn these food behaviors as children and grow into adults we begin to turn to food when we have a stressful day at work or when life just gets to be a little more than we feel we can handle. If it weren’t bad enough, the promotion of emotional eating does not stop with our mother lovingly baking cookies for us, this disordered eating is promoted in the media as well. Movies portray women who have just been dumped by a guy diving into a whole 1/2 gallon carton of ice cream to drown their romantic woes. What they don’t show you is the profound destruction that this type of behavior causes throughout our lives.
We lose the ability to taste the subtle flavors in whole, natural plant foods. We don’t turn to broccoli or salad for comfort, we turn to high fat, high sugar, high salt processed foods that stimulate receptors in our brain that cause addiction. These highly stimulating foods also desensitize our taste sensations. These foods are designed to have very strong flavors that overstimulate the taste buds and stimulate addiction, this causes us to come back for more, and more and more…. Once this desensitization has happened natural foods do not taste good to us anymore. We move farther and farther away from the foods our bodies need for optimum health because they simply do not stimulate our taste buds like donuts, ice cream, cookies and potato chips. We can reverse this situation but because we have suffered a lifetime of emotional indulgence it becomes a challenge because we have to change our habits and we have to allow about three to six weeks for our bodies and taste buds to adjust. When eating has become an emotional habit the last thing we want to do is have to wait for our taste buds to reacclimate, and this perpetuates an endless cycle of eating healthier followed by emotionally driven binging.
We no longer enjoy the simple pleasure of eating, in a situation of emotional stress we do not savor our food, we gorge on food, we don’t even take the time to taste it, the whole pint of ice cream is gone before we even know what happened. We don’t even realize the inherent damage our bodies are ravaged with after this assault, reduction in immunity, increased viscosity of the blood, decreased vascular dilation, severe blood sugar rushes and insulin spikes, as the body tries to handle this insidious assault on our system. Repeated assaults such as this over the long term begin to cause serious deterioration in our health.
Unfortunately eating one Big Mac meal at McDonalds does not immediately cause a heart attack, eating one refined oil laden meal does not cause instant health problems or instant obesity, and so we are able to ignore the silent, slow damage we do to our bodies as we stuff our emotions down with yet another chocolate chip cookie and pint of ice cream.
The dangers of emotional eating invade every aspect of our health and wellbeing. The health impacts of emotional eating are immense from heart disease, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, cancer, age-related dementia, osteoporosis among a host of other serious, debilitating and fatal diseases. It would be bad enough if the damage of emotional eating stopped there but it does not.
Generally, emotional eating involves what is termed a ‘binge.’ These binges involve consumption of a large amount of junk food, not usually a single serving. After a binge self-loathing, guilt, sorrow, and even more emotional suffering emerges. You promised yourself you would never do this to yourself again, you started a new diet and you were going to stick with it this time and then your boss yelled at you at work or you felt overwhelmed and passed your favorite fast food restaurant or ice cream joint and the next thing you knew you had finished off a large quantity of junk food and your new diet was spoiled. You did it again. You wonder why you even try to lose weight or be healthy because it never works, you always end up binging at some point and the scale seems more like a roller coaster than anything else.
The stress, pain, sorrow, and emotional struggles we face are not cured with a hamburger, ice cream, or your favorite binge food. Comfort food is not the solution to any of life’s problems, in fact, it is a major contributor to it. You know that the minute you finish that comfort food, whatever that might be for you, that you are going to regret it, you know that it will cause more guilt and remorse when you are done, but for some reason you eat it anyway!
Well, it is time to stop the madness and get rid of emotional eating once and for all! There is immense joy in regaining control and overcoming emotional eating.
Ten Tips to overcoming emotional eating
1. You must find a different way to deal with your emotions! At first it may be hard to replace your old habit of reaching for food but eventually you will create a new habit. Examples: take a walk, go for a drive, release the emotions by going outside and writing in your journal about how you feel, go for a hike, take a nice bubble bath, whatever you do, get away from access to food!
2. Make a list of all the reasons you want to eat healthier. Post that list on the fridge where you can see it every time you walk into the kitchen. Remind yourself that you would rather have those things than an instant, yet temporary gratification from food.
3. Today is the day that you finally tell your inner child….NO choice!! If you need to carry a 3X5 card with you in your purse with a list of your reasons you are changing your eating habits, do it! From now on every time you are tempted you simply say to yourself “I might feel at this moment that I don’t care, I just want to eat [unplanned foods] but the minute I finish eating it I am going to seriously regret it! It isn’t worth the guilt and self-loathing.
4. Hunger is NOT an emergency! You are not going to starve just because there are no healthy options for you right now, it will not hurt you one bit to wait until healthy food is available. Even if you have to miss a meal because you were out and about and there were no healthy foods available, you will not starve. Just tell yourself, hunger is not an emergency, I can wait.
5. The key to success is to have a plan, a detailed plan! Plan menus, make more difficult to prepare foods on a designated day when you have the time and freeze them, plan ahead for outings, parties, etc… You know there are foods that are acceptable and foods that are not. If the food is not on the plan there is no choice, you don’t eat it~! Visualize all food that is off plan as a non-food item, it is inedible, not food, and therefore you do not eat it. Most comfort foods people reach for are not really foods, they are actually non-nutritive substances that the body doesn’t recognize as nourishing food anyway and so you need to view them just as you would if someone offered you a plate of sawdust!
6. The next time you find yourself in a situation where you want to eat emotionally use these steps: Consciously recognize and say to yourself, I know that I am craving this food as a res ponse to emotions I am feeling. Identify the negative emotion. Ask yourself if you can resolve the emotional issue somehow…if not pull out a journal and begin releasing the emotions by writing down how you feel. Recognize that this emotional upset is not hunger and that eating will not solve it.
7. When you are eating, s-l-o-w down, savor every bite, set your fork down in between each bite and chew well, enjoy your meal and stop when you feel satiated…not full. Do not eat on the run, wait until you can focus on your food and enjoy it. Making the rule that you don’t eat on the run also helps with emotional eating during stress. Eating while distracted does not allow us to focus on our body’s signals and we may miss the sensation of satisfaction and end up overeating.
8. What about holidays, vacations, birthdays, business lunches? Yes, life continues to go on and people around you will continue to assault themselves with food at every chance they can get. Does that mean you should too? Absolutely not, you need to make the choice, are you going to eat healthier or not? Just because Thanksgiving rolls around does not mean you cannot make better choices, you simply plan ahead, prepare your own food and enjoy the company. Holidays and celebrations should be about community, family, friends, relationships and enjoying the company, not food! Don’t make it about food, make it about people and relationships and see how much more you enjoy get-togethers than before when you feared them because of the resultant weight gain from junk food indulgences.
9. “I don’t want to be deprived.” The most common ‘dieters’ complaint I hear. Really? You don’t want to be deprived of what exactly? The guilt, shame, health problems, and suffering that goes along with emotional eating because that is the only thing you will be deprived of by avoiding these foods. Not eating junk foods is not being deprived, it is a blessing. You’ve got to change your perceptions, feeling deprived is your choice, not reality. You will reap more benefits from eating healthy than you can possibly imagine. Deprivation is being unable to enjoy life because of fatigue, debility and disease from indulgence in dietary vices.
10. Mastering emotional eating requires mastering self-control, developing motivation and overcoming your excuses. Have responses for all the excuses you know you are going to make.
Oh, I don’t want to be rude to the hostess so I’ll eat it: NOPE! you can politely say ‘no thank you’ if she is offended it is her problem, not yours.
It won’t matter if I eat this comfort food just once. Yes, it does matter, the more you give in, the harder it will be to resist other temptations and before you know it you’ll be back at square one, that is why we say NO excuses!
Find motivational quotes and post them around your house, on the bathroom mirror, in the kitchen, and even at work or in your purse to help you as you move forward toward health and emotional freedom. Healthy eating is not deprivation it is freedom.
- You will enjoy the taste and flavor of foods more.
- No more guilt associated with food, you will have emotional freedom.
- Freedom from illness, debility, and disease.
- A life of self-control and self-mastery that will spill over into all aspects of your life helping you achieve greater success.
- Freedom from addiction and self-indulgence.
Deprivation is an addicts greatest weapon in perpetuating their own addiction. Healthy eating and a healthy body have nothing to do with deprivation, it has to do with living life with the greatest joy and freedom. I have heard every excuse in the book for unhealthy eating and you know what, you will never reach any goal in your life if you insist on being an excusitarian! The truth is, excuses are merely a mechanism for hiding weakness, lack of motivation, and lack of self-control. Rather than admit that we have a problem, that we lack the self-control to create the life we want, we make excuses as if somehow they justify us, as if they somehow validate us in our rut of bad habits and poor health.
If you want freedom from emotional eating and the freedom that true health can bring you have to adopt the mantra, NO EXCUSES!