Emotions rule. Don’t you agree? Just check in with your last 24 hours and see how many decisions you made, words you spoke and actions you took that were a result of feeling emotion, especially intense emotion.
Emotions particularly rule when it comes to deciding what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. Even when you have the best intentions and commitment you may overeat when you are driven by strong or intense emotions. That is the basis of emotional eating.
Take a backward glance to the last time you overate. Were you stressed out? Were you exhausted after a long, hard day? Were too many people expecting too much of you and appreciating you too little? Did your “to do” list overwhelm you and you pulled into the nearest fast food place or ordered a double latte as a treat?
Did you finish one job for the day just to begin another one with kids or a household to manage? Did you get yet another call from an elderly relative needing you to “fix” everything? Or did you have an overwhelming sense of loneliness? Chances are you went to the refrigerator or the chip drawer to find something to soothe you, something fun to eat, and something full of carbohydrates or fat.
All your intentions to eat this and not that went flying out the window.
Emotional eating can happen when you have a conflict, feel ignored or feel frustrated. Emotional eating happens when you don’t know how to solve the problem and you turn to food. You may use food to soothe your soul and to avoid a problem, to help with feelings of hurt, sadness, disappointment and loneliness.
Loneliness is one f the most common reasons people tell me they overeat. When they find themselves home alone, especially as the evening stretches before them, it’s easy to become best friends with the refrigerator.
Are you aware that emotional overeating can also happen when you’re having a great time with friends? Have you ever found yourself celebrating, eating, enjoying a few drinks and afterwards feel full, bloated, and uncomfortable. Have you found yourself ordering basket after basket of complimentary chips? Or going through the buffet line more than once? Or nibbling without awareness yet another piece of cake? Have you ever intended to eat only one teeny-weeny bite of a luscious pie and then find yourself gobbling down an entire piece?
When you are under the influence of strong emotion – happy or sad ones – your reasoning can go right out the window. You literally can’t think clearly or rationally. You are so overwhelmed by emotion that you operate from your emotions. If you do by chance have any awareness whatsoever about your eating, your emotions cop an attitude and say things like, “What the heck. I just don’t care.” Or “Hey, I deserve this!” Or your emotions trigger a rationalizing response, “I’m going to have this just once. And then I will never have it again!” How realistic is that?
Once you start the conversation, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” your emotions are getting the better of you. Without effective tools in place, you will give yourself permission to eat whatever feels good at the moment – and keep on eating even when you’re full.
And when the eating event is over and you take an honest look at yourself, chances are you beat yourself up with judgment. “What’s wrong with me?” “I have no willpower.” “I am never, ever going to lose weight.”
You become consumed with a sense of powerless, sadness, and maybe even disdain.
You resolve to end the power struggle by distracting yourself with a project. And the whole time you’re working on the project you are battling an emotional drive to eat. You begin hearing those inner voices. “What’s wrong with me?” “I’m a loser.” “I can’t even control my eating for one hour!”
Once you’ve started that conversation you keep eating. Why? Because feeling angry or upset with yourself leads to hopelessness. A sense of hopelessness leads to despairing thoughts like, “I’m never going to change.” You begin to believe your emotional messages.
Or perhaps you are like millions of other yo-yo dieters. You resolve to go on a weight loss program and stick with it, no matter what! You develop black and white thinking. You completely eliminate foods you have grown to count on for comfort. It’s all or nothing. Food is either good or bad. I’ve heard many, many people say with long sad faces, “I’ve been bad this week.” Or “I’m bad. I don’t know why but I sat down and ate a whole bag of chips with lots of cheese dip.” I know why they did it. Because their emotions ruled.
There is also an emotional challenge for people who want to change an eating habit. Perhaps you are not eating due to intense emotion, but know that you need to change your eating habits for better health and maybe for weight loss. For example, maybe you need to reduce saturated fats, fried foods, foods loaded with sugar or with salt. Or maybe you have decided to stop smoking or reduce alcohol consumption. Whatever the reason, eliminating a habit often brings about intense emotion that triggers over-eating. Power over Food will help you manage emotional eating while changing your habit. In another post we will discuss the emotional challenges of breaking a habit, but in the meantime, know that this program will work for you.
Most weight loss programs do not take into account that you have many different needs when it comes to food. One day you might need to be gentle with yourself and have a savory piece of chocolate. Another day you might find that you need the social interaction provided by breaking bread with friends. At a different time, you may have a physical need to eat and your body is craving a particular type of food. Don’t use this to rationalize unhealthy food choices. There will be many days, especially when you learn the tools of Power over Food, that you will crave and enjoy healthy foods without feeling deprived.
You are not the same every day so a diet that is planned for your life – day in and day out – often ends in disappointing results.
I remember in my own life when I would go on a diet, I would eat a pan full of macaroni and cheese just to nurture myself. And then I would resolve to never eat macaroni and cheese again. Never, ever. Not for the rest of my life. I ask you, “How rational was that?” and “How possible was that?”
I let my emotions around food further deprive me of the pleasure of a portion of macaroni and determined that I would eat only certain foods even if they taste like cardboard. I even nearly passed out after three days on a juice diet. I remember feeling light-headed, but proud of myself that “at least I’m losing weight.”
I would have been much better served if I knew how to choose foods that were in my best interest – for my body, for my mind, and for my well-being.
I know now that I’m not the same every day. Being able to take into account my emotional being and my physical being allows me to make the best decision possible. That is what Power Over Food is really all about and I want you to have it.
Don’t continue to make promises you can’t keep. In your heart of hearts you know that they are irrational. Don’t keep looking for that magic bullet – or magic diet pill. It’s time to end the exhausting battle of willpower. When you feel deprived and have emotional cravings you will lose that battle.
When you make food choices based on emotion, you are going to typically choose foods that are high carb, high fat, and sweets. I don’t even have to tell you what the foods are. You know the ones that call your name.
These “forbidden” foods do make you feel better – in the short run. It’s very difficult to compete with the power of the instant gratification that food provides even when there are painful consequences. Power Over Food is not about competing with instant gratification. It’s not about willpower. It is simply about making wise decisions about food so that you, not will, has the power.
If you are looking for solutions to once and for all end your personal war with food, then keep visiting this web-site for the encouragement and tools you need. Power Over Foods provides a solution.