Category Archives: Emotional Eating

Your Weight will Always Be an Issue Until You Fall in Love with Yourself

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Choosing to love yourself is a worthy adventure!

Until you fall in love with yourself, you will battle the same weight issues you’ve always battled.

Until you accept your body and yourself as you are, you will never lose weight and keep it off. You might be successful for a little while in losing it, but you’ll gain it back, sometimes even more weight than you lost to begin with, if you refuse to accept and love yourself.

The same behaviors that made you gain weight will come back.

The same thoughts and judgements that led to eating more will come back.

The same “comfort” eating that actually brings discomfort.

The same hiding and denial that makes you want to shrink from living your life the way you want to.

The same feelings of disgust, shame, anger, frustration and anxiety will resurface again and again.

If you think, I’ll love myself when I’m skinny, when I’m fit, when I don’t have this tire around my middle, you will always be looking for that love somewhere else, and in your particular case you’ll look for that love in food.

You need to love yourself NOW – as you are right now.

When you do love yourself, wholly, completely, fully, and without judgement about what your body looks like, the eating stuff will fall into place. It won’t feel like such a big struggle.

I know it feels like a big struggle now. And you wonder how you can just let go of the hate for your body, the hate for your size or shape, the hate for yourself for what or how much food you put in your mouth. The hate you feel for yourself sometimes.

It’s not as complicated as we make it out to be.

You have to let go of this idea you have about yourself – that you are unloveable and broken.

It’s not any different than when we want to move on from unhappiness in our relationships.

Let’s imagine that you’ve had a huge argument with a friend or family member who you love. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before! For awhile, you are more mad or angry at the other person than you are sad that the relationship is strained. You want to feel “right” or feel your anger more than you want to admit any wrong doing or to give them forgiveness. You hold on to the anger, the pain, the stress of the fight for a while because it is serving you in some way. But there comes a point where it hurts more to still be angry. It takes more effort to maintain the distance between you and this person than it would to just forgive them or let go of the discord. We usually can’t forgive them immediately after a fight – emotions are too high and we need time and space before we have the clarity to allow us to take that step. But eventually, if we want to move on in our lives or move forward with this relationship we have to forgive, we have to LET GO. Not really for them – but for ourselves. If we don’t, it will continue to weigh us down. The anger and negativity will fill other parts of our lives. We usually come to a place where we see more value in letting go than holding on to the old grudge and when we do finally do decide to forgive, it’s actually without a lot of fan fare.

It’s actually really easy to do.  It’s not easy when we’re not ready . . .but when you get to a place where the pain of not forgiving is greater than letting go and forgiving – it’s actually quite easy. The repairing of the relationship may take additional work and time (just like repairing our relationship with food) but giving forgiveness, letting go and choosing love is more straightforward.

Letting go of the hate you have for your body is just like the above example.

If it feels too hard, you may be going through a time when you aren’t ready to give that up. The feelings of hate you have for yourself appear to be bringing you more value right now but eventually you will get to a place where holding onto that hate and allowing it to color your life will feel more painful and take more effort than it does to just let it go.

Let it go.

There are two exercises I recommend you try to begin the process of letting go of the hate you feel for your body and beginning to view it with more love.

  1. Write a letter to yourself.

Write an apology letter to your body. Start by laying out what words or actions you are sorry to have used towards her (you), what you are grateful for and how you will start acting differently in the future. Exercises like this help us to “soften” towards ourselves – even if it feels a bit silly when we are writing it out!

Use some of these prompts to get started:

“I am sorry because . . .”.

“I have dishonored you by . . . ”

“I appreciate you for . . . .”

“I am grateful for you because . . .”

“You have taught me . . .”

“In the future, I will no longer  . . . ”

“I look forward to . . . ”

“You (I) deserve . . . ”

2. Visualize putting the hate away in a box and shipping it away.

It’s easy to knock visualization exercises – they seem so abstract and “woo woo” that it’s hard to believe that they can be powerful tools of change! But if you have a good imagination (and if you’re a lover of books like I am or any creative arts then you do!) they can be an easy way to spark change and help you to be more conscious of your actions. To help stop some of the hateful thoughts you have about your body and increase feelings of love, try visualizing your hate or thoughts of hate as something physical. You might see a big grey cloud or something more concrete like animated physical words. Whatever it is that you picture when you have these thoughts, imaging that you have 2 boxes in front of you. One is sealed up and the other is empty and needs to be filled and sealed. First, take the empty box and fill it with whatever physical image you visualized your hateful thoughts as (grey blob? words? etc). Stuff them in there. All of them. Then, close the flaps and seal the box with some heavy duty packing tape. Visualize picking up the box and walking to a post office box and then drop the box in. Once it’s in the post office box you can’t reach it anymore – it’s literally out of your reach! Those thoughts are going to be shipped away and are no longer your concern. Now, go back home to the other sealed box waiting for you. Open it up. Inside there are “wearable” words, thoughts and feelings of love and acceptance. Pick each one up and put it on. “Dress” yourself in these loving words and feelings. What do they look like to you? How do you feel when you try them on?

Try these two exercises and see if they help you open up and feel more accepting, tolerant and loving towards yourself.

Eating is not a character flaw. It’s not a moral shortcoming. You do not deserve poor treatment because of your eating choices.

Practice choosing love, more often, until it becomes your only choice – that’s when food becomes less of an issue and your weight struggles will not be a struggle any more.


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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A Better Relationship with Food Means Making Deliberate Decisions

We make deliberate choices every day, often every hour about what and how we will eat. There is freedom in this.

We make deliberate choices every day, often every hour about what and how we will eat. There is freedom in this.

I just want to point out that getting better from our struggles with food doesn’t happen by chance.

I talk to a lot of women who seem to believe that there must be a secret way out of all of this – one that will allow them to be somewhat unconscious or inactive while someone or something else does the work (I’ve been there!).

We won’t wake up one day able to eat the exact right amount for our body without judgement, without overeating and without a lot of conscious choices just because we’ve been hoping that would happen.

I certainly tried that. I remember literally trying to “pray” away my weight as a kid. And as I got older, I definitely daydreamed about just waking up in a body that wasn’t confused about food.

We won’t “fix” our stuff just because someone gave us the right diet plan. Being told what to eat and how much is liberating, but only briefly. I say briefly, because on any diet, we will find ourselves choosing to not eat the things or quantities we are supposed to at some point. We will make decisions about food, regardless of what we’re “supposed” to do.

There have been many times over the years where I just thought if someone else would tell me what to eat, exactly what to eat and I didn’t have to make decisions about food, then I wouldn’t have the struggles I did. I wanted to opt out of all decision making about what I put into my body.

But the way out is by actually facing those decisions head on, taking responsibility for our choices and having the consciousness to be able see what our actions lead to.

The best thing to do is to accept that almost everything we do in our food life is because of a choice that we made. Even the choice to not make a choice and have someone else make it for you (i.e. having someone give you a specific diet plan) is itself a choice. The lack of decision is also a decision.

We will only improve our relationship with food by making deliberate and more conscious choices and decisions about:

  • what we eat (ex. Will I choose to eat this compelling donut in front of me or the nutritious lunch I planned?)
  • how we eat (ex. Will I choose to eat slowly, chewing every bite thoroughly before swallowing? Or will I choose shovel handful after handful of chips into my mouth without even taking a breath?)
  • how much or little we will eat (ex. Will I choose to eat until I’m uncomfortably full or will I stop when I’ve had comfortably enough?)
  • when we eat  (ex.  Will I choose to eat because it’s a certain time of day, because it’s been 4 hours since I last ate or because I am physically hungry? etc)
  • why we eat (ex. Are we choosing to eating from a recognition of our physical hunger? Or are we choosing to eat so that we can avoiding feeling our feelings?)
  • even the other stuff like letting go of judgement, loving our body and loving ourselves as we are right now. It all feels abstract and the thoughts we have about ourselves do pop up without conscious choice, but it’s still a conscious choice as to what we will do with those thoughts. Will we choose to let them pass through like clouds pass by in the sky? Or will we choose to choose to focus on them and allow those thoughts to grow?

This is not a blame game. I know people often feel sensitive and defensive when they hear that they have a choice about something because it sounds as if we are choosing to be unhappy, overweight, or to live a complicated relationship with food. But just because we have a choice over our actions, doesn’t mean that it makes it easy to make the best choices all of the time. And it doesn’t mean that you will make good choices even when you are aware of the consequences of the choice you are making. So before we get riled about trying to figure out where to place blame, let’s just decide that there isn’t anyone or anything to blame. This is just how it is and let’s take responsibility for what we can, and not worry about what we can’t.

Focus on the actions you can take to improve things in your food world, like bringing more awareness and more attention to your choices, your meal times, your purchases at the grocery store, how you eat, when you eat etc. Make awareness your job.

When you start to feel acutely aware of the inner thoughts you have as you make these choices (oh, we all have them!), you’ll notice that you can decide to go along with it or choose to do something different. You’ll start to notice that when you decide to make a different choice that you feel better, happier, have less digestive distress etc. And when you feel all the good things that come with making the best choices for your body, making those choices more often will get a little easier!

But first you have to make deliberate and conscious choices regularly, daily, even hourly sometimes. You must do this daily – it has to become part of your life’s practice.

Choose to not reach into the candy bowl again.

Choose to not eat in your car.

Choose to exercise even when you don’t want to.

Choose to eat vegetables even though chips might be more appealing right now.

Choose to go out and visit with friends when you’d rather be downing a pint of ice cream on your couch.

Even with acute awareness and practice, sometimes you will still choose the things that won’t feel best. You will still occasionally choose to eat more than you had planned. You will still sometimes choose foods that don’t feel so great in your body. But that doesn’t have to mean that anything has gone wrong or that you aren’t doing the best you can right now. Normal eaters sometimes do these things too. And for someone healing their relationship with food it is normal to wonder if these perceived “slip ups” are proof that you aren’t improving things or if it’s normal. It’s all in how you handle it. Will you view one single overeating episode as a reason to go back to overeating all the time? Or will you use your knowledge and awareness to let that go and make a different choice going forward?

Realizing that every bite we put in our bodies is because of a deliberate decision we have made is actually very powerful. We can choose to view that as crappy and feel like we are being blamed for our eating challenges or we can choose to see freedom in knowing that we can be active participants in the way out.

Knowing you can choose at every meal and every situation is very liberating. It is freeing. It can help you relax around food. It can help you beat yourself up less (because there will be more choices to make going forward). I know it isn’t easy and I’m not promising that making good choices is easy from the start (it’s not!) – but to get to the “easy” and I know that most of us are always looking for easy, you have to first understand and accept that we have choices to make, bring your attention and awareness to your actions and choices and then start deliberately making choices from a conscious place.

There is a lot of hard work in this. And yes, sometimes it’s really uncomfortable, painful and you’ll feel “I don’t wanna!”. That’s fine – you can feel that way. Just don’t stay there all the time (that’s a choice too cutie!). Come back when you are ready and let’s make more deliberate decisions together.


Could you use some support in this area? Schedule a free consult with me here.

You can also download a free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!). It’s my starter tool pack for those who want to begin changing their relationship with food.

Getting from Point A to Point Z. (You can’t skip over the points in between).

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there's nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

Think of changing your habits like purchasing a train ticket to go across the country. Trains get us to and from our destination usually with a lot of stops in between. You may be able to buy an upgrade for a fancier seat or wifi but there’s nothing you can do to get there any faster. Settle in for the ride.

One day you wake up and decide that this is it – you are TIRED of being overweight, of overeating, of making food choices that make you feel awful and you’re going to fix it NOW.

You are rolling with enthusiasm. You want to get started immediately and you want results yesterday. You decide that the only way for you to keep momentum is to go ALL in. You will eat as cleanly as possible, as strictly as possible and work out as hard and as often as you can.

Sounds like a recipe for success, right?

All goes well for a bit. The first couple of days are hard but you know it will get easier as soon as you see results! The scale goes down a bit, but you’re so hungry you can’t stop thinking about food and you don’t really have enough energy to do the workouts that you planned to do.

Pretty soon you are so frustrated that you find yourself ordering a pizza and eating almost the whole thing by yourself. And too bloated the next morning to workout. And too ashamed to eat the light breakfast you planned so you hit a drive-thru on your way to work. And it goes downhill from there.

What started off strong and ambitious, screeched to a halt when the progress you made didn’t match up with your expectations. The effort you were putting in didn’t feel equal to the results you were getting back.

You feel like a failure but you are not a failure, it’s just that the way you went about it failed. There are 1000 ways to do everything and the surefire way to fail at weight loss, changing your relationship with food or any habit change is to go at it with extremes.

When we attack life changes with gusto, a part of us feels like we can get from A to Z faster that way. If we go at it hard, fast and ferociously – totally committed, we’ll have faster results. We think we can skip over B, C, D etc and still make it to Z.

But we can’t do that.

If it took you 10 years to gain 50 lbs, it won’t come off in two weeks. If you are a decade in to an overeating or bingeing struggle, you won’t be able to reverse it in a month. If you’ve been running away from your feelings your entire life, you can’t expect it to be easy after trying it once or twice.

If we want to reach point Z, the end goal . . .we have to be willing to tackle all the steps in between. We have to do the work, all of it. There is no skipping over any of it.

We want to, but we can’t.

Every time we try to go at these changes hard, we’re attempting to skip over some of the hard parts. We know this is true, because our intention is to use whatever momentum and enthusiasm we have in the beginning to propel us forward as fast as possible. Otherwise, there would be no rush. But we know (from past experiences) that our enthusiasm will fizzle when stuff gets hard – and so we think we are doing ourselves a favor by moving quickly in the beginning.

You’ll get no judgement from me on this. I know exactly what that feels like. I can’t tell you how many times I got pumped up researching and planning how I’d lose the weight finally “this time” and how urgent I had to get started. That urge to fix stuff RIGHT NOW. That feeling of disgust that we feel when an item of clothing doesn’t fit the way it should. The way you wish you could snap your fingers and be the person you want to be. It feels overwhelming – like there is a massive, crushing weight holding us back from experiencing life the way we want to.

The reason we feel a crushing weight holding us back is because of our own resistance to feeling things as they unfold. The more we push away and resist, the heavier it feels.

Just like we’re uncomfortable with feeling our uncomfortable feelings in our day to day life, we’re also uncomfortable with change, with being present and with not being in control.

Change is hard. Being present is hard. Not being in control can feel hard if you’re used to holding tightly to it. But if it was all easy, would the reward be as great? Probably not.

If you seriously want to make it from A to Z, take your time. Be patient. Experience each step along the way fully. Resist the urge to rush it.

Habit change takes time and the body takes time to adapt and change. No one goes to the gym once and comes out with a fit body. It takes a long time, a lot of commitment and showing up daily. Why not settle in and make changes in a way that you can sustain long term? Not only are you more likely to make it to your goal (there is nothing to fizzle out when you’re not running on momentum alone) it will also be less painful getting there.

As a side note, something awesome that happens when you submit fully to each step in the process of changing your eating habits is that over time, your daily thoughts become less about your weight, food, and your relationship with it and more about living your life. You start to find yourself choosing food and enjoying it with less drama, less stress. Your weight becomes more stable. Periods of overeating become less frequent and less severe. You judge yourself less. It really does become less of a big deal. So yeah, it takes more time and it’s not sexy going slow, but it’s so much more worth it!

Listen to your intuition. You already know what to eat and that you should get some physical activity regularly. You have the knowledge. You do not need another quick fix or another 21 day weight loss program. What you do need is to learn the lifelong skills and habits you will need to eat the way your body needs you to and practice them. Daily.

I know you can reach your goals. You can lose the weight you’ve put on. You can stop overeating so often. You can have a healthier relationship with food. It doesn’t have to be such a rush.

Will you do all the work it takes day by day?

Can you settle in and not skip over steps along the way?

What can you do today that will gently push you closer to your goal?

What will you do tomorrow to continue moving toward it kindly and sustainably?

Who in your life can support you in making these changes slowly?


Could you use some support in this area? Schedule a free consult with me here.

You can also download a free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!). It’s my starter tool pack for those who want to begin changing their relationship with food. One of the recipes you’ll get in that download is my Mango Mandarin Green Smoothie (below) which is full of Vitamins A & C, potassium and iron. And it’s delicious!img_2162

 

A Reminder After This Exhausting Election: Let Yourself Feel Those Feelings

Feel those feelings!

Feel those feelings!

I’m not going to fill this space by telling you how I feel about the results of Tuesday’s presidential election. If you know me, you already know what I’m thinking and feeling and as much as I try to incorporate some of the personal into my blog and certainly into my social media presence – ultimately I want what I put out here to be helpful and not just self-serving and venting (this is a space for my business after all!).  Along those lines, feelings are very raw for many of us right now and tensions in our country are high so one way I can be of help is to make this week’s blog post something constructive and supportive.

This is a just a reminder to let yourself feel the feelings you are having this week. About the election. About the candidates. About the state of our country and the people in it.

If you are feeling sad. Feel sad. Be sad.

If you are angry, disappointed, disillusioned, disgusted, dismayed and demoralized (all those d words work perfectly here!), then let yourself feel them.

Really feel them.

This doesn’t mean you should wallow or indulge in your misery or disappointment for days or weeks on end but it’s necessary to let these feelings run their course. We as people try to avoid feeling uncomfortable under almost any circumstances and when these shitty feelings arise, we want them to go away as fast as possible. We take pills to go to sleep so we don’t have to think about it. We drink so we don’t have to feel it. We eat so we can numb ourselves out.

Don’t try to numb yourself out right now. Don’t avoid, resist, repress or push away what you are feeling. Don’t try to change it. Don’t try to take action on those feelings.

If you are feeling bad, that’s ok.

Let it be there.

It will end.

I promise.

You will feel good again.

These uncomfortable feelings will not last forever.

All feelings pass, even the ones that feel unbearable.

Your job right now is to process this and get really good at feeling your own discomfort. This is part of being a human -feelings are a huge part of being human. And we can’t have the positive feelings in life, without the balance of the negative ones. The best feelings in the world feel as good as they do because we have the awful feelings to compare them to. We can’t and won’t get through life avoiding ever feeling uncomfortable.

None of your feelings are wrong and you are not wrong for having them.

Don’t take any action right now (feeling feelings is not an action – it’s a way of being, of allowing). We can take action later (starting with how we treat each other).

All you need to do right now is feel.

Express yourself if you need to (talk to a friend or write!). Cry if you need to. Hug your loved ones. Eat nourishing and comforting food. Get some fresh air and some blood pumping exercise. Be present. Feel what you are feeling.

Acknowledge it.

Accept it.

And when the feeling is dissipating (it may take a few days), think about how you want to feel going forward. What do you want to see in the world?  How do you want others to view the US? How do you want to view the US? What do you wish was more common in our political system? And what you do wish there was less of? What qualities do you wish our fellow citizens possessed more of?

Then go out and be those things.

Live your life as an example of what you want in this world.

Treat people how you want to be treated.

Spread love. Kindness. Tolerance. Authenticity. Empathy. Grace. Charm. Beauty. Knowledge. Understanding. Honesty. Dignity.

That’s your homework for this week – feel your feelings and embody the things you want to see more of in this world.

HUGS!!

Andrea


Need more like this? Check out this earlier post on feeling your feelings.

Then download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes We Make When Trying to Halt Emotional Eating

Don't set the world on fire while you're changing your relationship with food.

Don’t set the world on fire while you’re changing your relationship with food.

This blog post was supposed to go out early Thursday morning but when I went to put the finishing touches on it Wednesday (last minute, of course!) we had a local internet outage that lasted several hours and by several hours I mean from about 12:30 until 6pm!! I love how easy technology makes our lives most of the time, but I really hate how much we’ve come to require it. So many aspects of my job depend on it and most things come to a halt when it’s not working. And when things aren’t working for me, I tend to have a total meltdown. I’m not very mature when things don’t go my way or according to plan. I didn’t know what to do with myself (luckily, there is always something that needs doing around the house! I took a forced break to house clean after my last client!)

This behavior translates into other areas of my life.

When things get tough, when I don’t understand something, when I hit a wall, I flip out and give up. I essentially set my emotional world on fire. Emotionally I’d just say “No way, not going to do this, feel this or experience this!”. I do this when I’m learning something and struggling with it. When I discover I’m wrong. When I don’t like an outcome. You name it. And in the past, I would turn to food to cope with whatever I didn’t want to feel. Whatever obstacle I encountered would be attempted to be climbed over with food. It was how I soothed bad feelings.

I don’t do that anymore. Or at least, I rarely do it now. And if I do catch myself reaching for food when I don’t want to feel something, I’m aware of it and can bring my attention to the feeling.

If you’re an emotional eater, I know you can relate to this. You probably have a bit of an “all or nothing” mindset yourself. If a little bit of something will help, then a lot will really cure it! Right?  Let’s burn it all down and start over! Because of this kind of thinking, and an inability to deal with uncomfortable emotions, emotional eaters tend to fall into several “traps” of the same nature when they are trying to stop eating emotionally. Instead of viewing it as a staircase where we make changes step by step on the way up, we try to leap from the bottom step to the top step without touching on the steps in between. We want to skip over the hard parts. We want to get from A to B without feeling uncomfortable on the way there. But that’s not possible!

I want to share a few of the most common mistakes people fall into when they are trying to halt their emotional eating in the hopes that you can avoid getting stuck in them like I (and so many others) have. Watch out for these!

Common Mistakes We Make When Trying to Halt Emotional Eating:

  1. We equate getting better with being perfect. Healing from emotional eating does not mean you’ll never have another moment where you put food in your mouth for reasons other than hunger – it just means you’re making a concerted effort to eat thoughtfully and while fully present most of the time. Some days it will look really great, other days it’s going to be ugly. Don’t make too much of it. The day to day is really is no big deal.
  2. We get too dogmatic about the rules, tools and which teachers that can help. Some people need to eat mindfully 100% of the time to stay on track, others do better when they eat every 2 hours whether hungry or not. Some only listen to what Geneen Roth’s ideas or only Kay Sheppard’s or only Ellen Satter or only their Yoga teacher and are distrustful of anyone but their preferred “guru”. There are lots of teachers, tools and rules that can help you have a better relationship with food. You don’t have to subscribe to one and one only. Try to remain open minded and be willing to listen to the experiences of others, even if they’re different from your own. You never know when you might learn just another way to peace. And different tools and teachers will make sense for us at different times in our lives. It’s ok to change with time.
  3. Avoiding social situations that center around food. Don’t you dare kill your social life. If you want to heal your relationship with food, you have to be able to manage food in all settings and that includes socially. Consider each social situation with eating as a component as practice in figuring out what works for you and what doesn’t work for you. Maybe you need to eat a snack before the event so that you don’t go overboard during. Maybe you need to eat cleanly and thoughtfully during. Maybe you need to eat exactly what you crave during so that you don’t go home and binge. Go to events. Eat. Be thoughtful about it. Let yourself be human and enjoy human things.
  4. Automatically banning the scale. Yes weighing ourselves obsessively doesn’t help and if weighing yourself causes you to feel bad or virtuous depending on the number that appears, then yes, you should try reducing your use of a scale (and dumping it completely in some cases). But if you’re one of those people who can weigh themselves and it’s entirely neutral for you, then it’s ok to keep using it as a guide. I find weighing myself several times a month gives me feedback that tells me if I’m on the right track in listening to my hunger signals and stopping when I’ve had enough. When it moves up or down a few pounds I don’t worry (normal fluctuations) but if I see if trending too far in any direction, I know that means I’ve gone off track and helps me bring my attention back to where it should be. When I’ve stopped weighing myself completely, I tend to go back to old eating habits and it has on more than one occasion resulted in unhealthy amounts of weight gained. So I keep the scale in my arsenal of tools. That works for me. It does not work for others. The only way you should keep using the scale as a tool is if it is no more upsetting than taking your temperature would be. When we take our temp, we either have a fever or we don’t. It doesn’t affect how we feel about ourselves or our body. Can you be that neutral with the scale? You need to decide what is the most loving thing to do for you.
  5. Thinking that it’s not worth doing if you can’t do everything. You may have great success when you first start implementing different tools and strategies to conquer your emotional eating. This is the “honeymoon” phase. Things will go well, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, and then because this is real life, something will happen that throws you off your game. You’ll find yourself back at square one, resorting to all your old habits and when you get sick of it and want to get back at it, it won’t feel quite so easy to implement those tools back into your life. You’ll feel resistant and even resentful. You’ll wonder why you ever thought you could do this in the first place. You’ll think everyone who claims they healed their relationship with food is a fucking liar. Slow down. Take a step back. You don’t have to get yourself back to where you were when you slipped. That’s a huge hurdle! Just pick one tool or one strategy that was working for you before that seems doable and go from there. You will get to where you were before, but not by skipping any steps along the way. Just pick up the pieces one at a time!

You didn’t become an emotional eater overnight. It’s not like one day you were eating normally, competently and the next day you turned to food for comfort. It was a coping strategy that you adopted over time in response to certain situations. In many cases it developed over many years. We have to have patience in changing it. We have to accept that we’re going to stumble a little, slip a little and that it might be uncomfortable, sometimes painful and often ridiculously slow! Be cautious of falling into these traps, take your time and don’t judge yourself for wherever you are in YOUR process. This is your journey and you need to do it however makes sense to you.


How are you doing with you own emotional eating or chronic dieting struggles? Could you use some support? If so, contact me to set up a Discovery Session. It’s free.

Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

“Why Am I Mentally Hungry?” Or Why Your Brain Keeps Telling You to Eat When You’re not Physically Hungry

Can't stop thinking about food? Feeling mentally hungry all the time? 3 Causes of Mental Hunger

Can’t stop thinking about food? Feeling mentally hungry all the time? 3 Causes of Mental Hunger

Every so often I get an email or Facebook message from someone asking “why am I so mentally hungry when I’m not physically hungry?”. I’m not sure if it’s because the weather has turned colder (and we all feel a pull to eat more in the fall!) or if it’s just coincidence but I’ve had 3 really similar questions about this in the last 10 days, so I thought I should answer it here – since clearly this is something a lot of people are having trouble with!

Examples of Mental Hunger:

Mental hunger = That gnawing urge or desire to eat something when you know you aren’t hungry or that non stop chatter in your brain telling you that you need to eat a specific thing.

I have one woman who finds herself thinking of going to the vending machine in her work cafeteria an hour after lunch. She tries to ignore thoughts about this, because she can feel her belly physically still has food in it, but the urge to get up and go get a snack keeps pulling at her.

Another acquaintance is trying to lose body fat for an upcoming event and has been on a strict diet for several months. She has a certain amount of calories she allows herself each day and feels like she is eating enough. She says she doesn’t feel hungry on this diet but she is having a hard time staying under her calorie goal lately because even though she technically isn’t feeling hunger in her body, her mind keeps telling her to eat. Every day is a battle between staying under those calories or giving in to thoughts about cookies, crackers and donuts!

I also received a message from someone who is going through a tough time in several areas of her life. One area that normally isn’t a problem for her is food but lately her weight feels like it’s skyrocketing because she finds herself eating in front of the TV, while she’s cooking dinner, in her car – everywhere and anywhere. She’s always feeling the urge to eat, even when she isn’t really hungry.

The circumstances are all slightly different but the reasons we feel “mentally” hungry are almost always the same. There are 3 reasons I see over and over again. Do you see yourself in any of these?

 

3 Causes of Mental Hunger

 

You’re physically depriving yourself of food too often

This happens when you have been on a diet for a long time, have frequently been on diets in your lifetime or a general tendency to restrict food intake even when not actively on a diet.

The body keeps diligent track of how much food it’s getting, if it’s getting the right nutrients and if it has enough energy and fat stores to get through periods of difficulty. As much as we may want to be a certain size or body fat percentage, our body puts our general survival and health as a major priority and it sees depleting fat stores as a threat to our safety.

It thinks famine is here and in order to survive a period where less food is available, it will do whatever it can to get you to eat when food is available, in order to offset any fat / weight you would lose during a time of famine. In this way, your body is actually trying to help you! If you have been dieting or restricting for awhile and your mind is really working hard to get you to eat more, it’s technically doing it’s job. It’s working exactly the way it is supposed to.

You are emotionally hungry.

We tend to call this urge to eat mental hunger because the source of it seems to come from our brain. It’s the non stop thoughts we have about food or an unconscious pull to get up and go to the fridge but for a big portion of us, it’s not so much mental as it is emotional.

Everything in life “feeds” us in some way (if you want more info on this, check out this post). Our job, social life, home life, creative life and lots more contribute to how well rounded and satisfied we are with our life. If there is an area of your life where you are not emotionally satisfied, you may turn to food to fill that void or need.  If there is an area of our life that isn’t “nourished” well, we will feel “off” or like something is missing (even if we can’t identify initially what that is) and we turn to food to “fill” that space up.

How is your job/career going? Is it fulfilling or soul crushing? Somewhere in between? How is your social life? Full or lacking? Romantic life? Spiritual life? Do you have creative outlets? Time for self-care? Physical activity/stress relief? Do you feel that you have purpose? Do you feel you are giving back in some way? etc.

Analyze your life a little. What is missing? Why do you feel restless? What do you want more of? Less of? And then try to “feed” those areas so that they’re more balanced, more satisfied. Eating emotionally will happen less and less as you find your soul is getting the nourishment it needs in multiple areas.

 

There are feelings you are trying to avoid feeling

No one likes to feel uncomfortable but uncomfortable feelings are a part of life but some of us will whatever we can to avoid them! Uncomfortable feelings like discomfort, confusion, sadness, loneliness, anger and shame get stuffed down and pushed away. As a way to deal with them, we may use food as a distraction or to seek comfort. If we are eating, it gives us something to do or makes us feel temporarily positive feelings that help us avoid the negative feelings we were feeling.  That repetitive urge to eat that we refer to as mental hunger is really our way of trying to ignore something we are feeling that we don’t want to feel.

To complicate matters further, we don’t even know how to feel uncomfortable feelings. When one arises, what do you feel? Panic? Anxiety? Confusion? Restlessness? All of the above? And then what happens? You reach for food because not only do you not want to feel what you’re feeling – you also aren’t sure what the heck to do with it! We think we need to take action on it somehow, but that’s not really necessary. Sometimes feelings just need to be felt.

We avoid feeling uncomfortable feelings (and not knowing what to do with them) by numbing out with food. Eating food temporarily brings us comfort and sometimes even joy – for a few minutes we can avoid the feelings we were having and feel something better. But these feelings will keep coming back up, and the urge to eat will keep coming back as long as we don’t let the feelings we have run their course. We can’t outrun our feelings. They have to come out! If you need more info on feeling your feelings, read this post or this one.

Does one of these causes of mental hunger seem to be appearing in your life? If you’re not sure or if you want help working on your own relationship with food, let’s talk. Honestly. Openly. Confidentially.


Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

This is How You Respond with Love When You Overeat

How to respond with love when you overeat.

How to respond with love when you overeat.

Responding with love after an overeating episode.

How do we do that?

Last week I wrote a post on how the way that we respond to ourselves when old eating habits resurface can make a big difference in how often we overeat. I talked about how there are two ways you can respond – either with love or with shame, disgust and guilt and that responding the more familiar, negative way is the sure way to find yourself rooting around the pantry again. Responding with love can help these kind of overeating episodes become less frequent and less damaging over time.

So let’s talk about what responding with love actually looks like!

If you’re like me, you like lots of information when you are trying something new. Information, details and answers make you feel safe or like you’re on the right track. But I also have a tendency to overcomplicate things with my need for details (haha! If you’re like me you probably get that too!) so I’m not going to do that to you today! I’m going to give you the info you need but not so much that it makes you feel paralyzed or stuck in taking action.

Responding with love each time you overeat doesn’t have to be a huge, complicated process. It can just be something you do, naturally, simply and normally.

If we go into this by only focusing on giving ourselves love when we eat in a way we aren’t happy with, it’s going to feel like an uphill battle. So with that in mind, the way you respond with love in your overeating episodes is to respond with love every time you eat.

Each time you eat, whether it’s a normal meal, overeating, under eating, a binge, a diet, a snack say thank you. If you’re eating a salad, a steak, a cup cake, a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers, say thank you. Every day. Every meal. Every bite.

Thank your body for receiving the food.

Thank it for digesting it.

Thank your teeth, saliva, your tongue for chewing it so that you can digest it.

Thank your body for retrieving the energy and valuable nutrients from the food that it needs so that you can live your life.

Thank your body for giving you feelings of comfort and satisfaction and safety after a meal.

Tell your body your love her. For no reason other than you are present with her now. Thank you, I love you. Thank you, I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Get in the habit of sending her adoration and gratitude at every opportunity.

It might feel silly at first.

You might feel conceited.

But it’s not conceit. It’s not pride. It’s one small, gentle, non-threatening way you can show yourself love.

We already are really good at saying thank you. From an early age we are taught and trained to say please and thank you. Saying thank you in response to certain situations becomes automatic. We want to show respect and be polite. We want to acknowledge the thoughtfulness and kindnesses others show to us. Why can’t we do the same for ourselves? Isn’t our body deserving of the same pleasantries? Literally everything we are able to do in life happens because we have a functioning, breathing, thinking body. And eating and processing food is a part of all that. Thank your body so often for it’s daily gifts that your positive response will become automatic (just like it is when someone holds the door open for you).

Your digestion will be better. Your body will absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. Your general outlook will be better. You may not even recognize why but it’s because you’re connecting with and acknowledging the role your body plays in your world.

If this feels crazy silly to you, you could also try saying a form of “grace” before you eat or after you eat. Instead of (or in addition to) a prayer to God or your higher power for providing the food you are eating, you could pause for a moment and to yourself (or out loud if you wish) say:

“Dear Body, I thank for all the work you will undergo so that I can eat this food and digest this meal. Thank you for making it so the nutrients in this food allow me to have a productive and satisfying day. Thank you for giving me energy today. I love you for all that you do, all that you are and exactly as you are right now.”

Alter that as you wish. What does your body want to hear? What does she do for you every day that you are grateful for? How is she worthy and deserving of your love? And will you try giving it to her so that it becomes easier to give it to yourself?

So now you know how to respond with love to your eating episodes. Will you try it?


Like this? For more, download your free copy of Healthy Eating Shouldnt Be a Workout:  Real Life Strategies to Take the Confusion Out of Healthy Living (includes recipes, snack and meal ideas, ways to save money and more!).

Need help with your own eating struggles? Let’s talk.