Welcome to Part Two of our Mindless Eating Series. We’ve already covered the first topic (click the link below if you missed it!) where I discussed what a good vs bad food mentality is and gave solutions of how to have a more balanced approach when it comes to food. Today we’re going to look at some emotional reasons that might lead us to mindless eating and some insights I’ve learned to help overcome them. Then at the end of the week we’ll tackle #3!
- Having a Good vs. Bad Food Mentality
- Being Unable to Getting In Touch With Our Emotions
- How to know when you’re hungry and when you’re full
Let’s first start by distinguishing the difference between emotional and physical hunger.
Emotional hunger comes on very suddenly. We feel a strong urge to eat immediately, crave comfort foods and feel a sense of regret or powerlessness after we’re done eating. Emotional hunger goes hand in hand with mindless eating because we’ll eat almost anything to satisfy the craving and might end up eating an entire bag of chips or pint of ice cream without even noticing. Lastly, we’re also left with a hangover of regret and guilt after eating due to emotional hunger.
Physical hunger, on the other hand, comes on much more gradually and we’re much more aware of what and how much we’re eating. Physical hunger doesn’t come with intense cravings and we can wait a while to eat if necessary. We stop eating when we’re full and don’t feel badly about ourselves after. We just feel satisfied.
A look into our emotions as they relate to mindless eating
Some of us eat mindlessly to cover up some underlying emotion(s). We don’t like to sit with our stress or anxiety or sadness so we eat emotionally and excessively as a way to be able to label our feelings: “I feel guilty/remorseful/enter negative self-talk here.” This way, we are able to put a label on some emotion all the while avoiding the root cause of the action in the first place. So what happens after all the cookies are gone? Not only are we left with guilt but the underlying issues are still there! Mindless eating and the feelings that go along with it are just a band aid.
So what do we do?
If you’ve done any reading about how to stop mindless eating you’ve probably read some of the following tips:
- Keep a journal
- Eat with your non-dominant hand
- Use smaller plates
- Use chopsticks
- Drink herbal tea
- Put half your meal in a to-go or Tupperware container
These are all good tips and I’d certainly give them a try, but along with these strategies I think it’s important to look at the emotional aspect of mindless eating.
Personally, I tried SO many strategies in my personal journey to stop mindless eating including most of those listed above (except for chopsticks…those freaking things are tough!) Above all others, the strategy that worked best for me was walking. Just walking. And not for the sake of exercise. Walking was like hitting pause. Sometimes walking helped me get out of my head and focus on something else (music/podcast) and sometimes it helped me think through things that were going on in my life. It gave me time to sit with my emotions and work through them instead of stuffing myself with food to shove them down 🙂 It was like a moving meditation three to four times a week, I got lots of fresh air and it was free! After a nice walk , I always felt like I had a handle on what was going on between my two ears 😉
When we don’t feel in touch with our emotions, or aren’t comfortable with sitting them, we look for some way to remedy that (mindless eating). We look for a way to be able to label them. For me, my underlying issues were being overworked, overtired, stress and wayyyy too much anxiety. Once I began walking, I came up with solutions to these issues, put them into action and was able to reign in my eating habits. I didn’t feel the urge to eat excessively because my emotions were under control 98% of the time…I am a pretty emotional girl after all ;).
Here’s the thing…there is no way to avoid our emotions. They’re going to come out in one way or another whether it be sudden and intense food cravings, breakouts, sore muscles, etc. As hard as it is to sit with negative stuff, that’s a huge part of this process. To change from being a mindless eater to mindful eater, we have deal with what’s going on emotionally. Know that it takes trial and error to be able to figure out what works for you. Like I said, I tried so many different strategies before I found what worked best for me. Maybe for you it’s not walking…maybe it’s hitting pause by reading for pleasure, some form of movement, meditation, weekly chats with a friend, journaling, eating with chopsticks, counting to 10, the possibilities are endless. Find your personal best strategy and be patient. Getting a handle on all this stuff takes time and practice.
If any of the above sounds familiar, start searching for your personal best strategy to get a handle on emotional/mindless eating then practice it daily. If you’re having trouble getting started please reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org)! Sometimes it can be hard to see our own blind spots and we can have a really hard time looking into ourselves to make these big changes. Sometimes we don’t have the support system in place to get the ball rolling. If you think you might need some help along the way, click here to learn about my 12-Week Lifestyle Makeover Program.
Lastly, if you haven’t already and want any Fueled Physique updates and access to the weekly newsletter, click here —> http://bit.ly/1PJnYe4 and add your name to the list! Newsletters go out every Friday. This week you’ll get a sneak peek at the last installment of our Mindless Eating Series before anyone else gets it!