Are You an Emotional Eater? 4 Steps to Food Freedom

emotional eatingHello my friends! Today I want to talk to you about a topic that feels a little bit vulnerable to talk about… emotional eating!

Can you relate to being an emotional eater? Do you ever turn to food for comfort instead of nourishment? If so, then this is for  you.

I have had my own share of struggles with emotional eating since I was young. I’ve always had a sweet tooth and remember sneaking cookies and sweets as a little girl, or grabbing a pile of snacks and sitting in front of the TV whenever I wanted to veg out after a long day. As I grew up, I found myself continuing this habit which started to lead to a bit of an unhealthy lifestyle.

What started to happen was that I found myself in this constant pattern of yo-yo dieting. For years, I would either be on a diet or off a diet. When I was on a diet, I would try to be meticulous with my eating and only eat things that I considered “healthy”. And, when I was off my diet, it was a total free for all of cookies, chips, and processed foods. This would continue until I would either notice that I was gaining too much weight, or just start feeling physically ill to the point where I had to stop… and then it was time to get back on a diet!

This unhealthy cycle consumed me for many years, until I became pregnant with my daughter. I suffered from terrible morning sickness during the first 4 months of my pregnancy, and had no choice but to start developing a relationship with my body and listening to it for clues as to what it wanted me to eat. Sometimes this was a cookie or a chip, and other times it was fruit and veggies. For the first time in my life, I started to find balance.

After I had my daughter, my mentality around food had shifted, and I decided that I was never going to go on a diet again. I didn’t want my daughter to grow up with a mother who has an unhealthy relationship with food and is always trying to lose weight! I want her to grow up learning healthy habits from me, and seeing that I love my body and treat it well. I know that our children learn more from what we do than from what we say, and so the only way to teach her to love her body is by loving my own body and treating it with kindness.

I’m proud to say that I’ve stuck with my non-diet mentality for the past 3 years. However, the one thing that has continued to plague me is the instinct to use food as a coping mechanism. When times in my life get stressful, I still find myself wanting to turn to food for comfort. This is something that I continuously have to work on.

Last week, I was talking to my friend Angelle who happens to be a women’s health and nutrition coach. I was talking to her about how I had been in a bit of a slump the past couple of weeks. As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, I have been feeling really emotional about my daughter starting school this year, coming to terms with the fact that the baby years are over, and that both she and I will be starting on a new journey this fall.

I started to realize that I had fallen back into my old patterns of emotional eating because I didn’t really want to deal with all of the emotions that I was facing. For the past few weeks, I had fallen back into the habit of using sugary and processed foods to numb out and avoid coping with my feelings.

This in turn, had caused me to fall into a little bit of a slump where I was feeling really anxious and a bit depressed. Angelle helped me see that the food that we eat really affects our mood. When we use unhealthy food to cope with our feelings, it leads us down this vicious cycle where we are eating too much sugar, processed foods, salt, etc… and then the food has a physiological effect where it physically makes us feel even worse… which then leads to us feeling even more anxious and depressed, and going back to the unhealthy foods to try to cover up those feelings!

It’s really a crazy and harmful cycle.

Once I recognized that this was what I had been doing, I started to realize that I could interrupt this pattern and take steps to change it.

Now, just one week later, I am happy to report that I have stopped my emotional eating cycle and am feeling SO much better! My anxiety and depression have completely lifted! I have lost 4 lbs. And, I was able to handle my daughter’s first day of school with grace. I still shed a few tears, but I didn’t feel completely consumed by anxious thoughts as I had been the past few weeks. All of this after just ONE WEEK of eating well and giving my feelings a voice.

If you can relate to this unhealthy cycle of bad food causing a bad mood, then here is a 4 step process that you can use to help stop the cycle of emotional eating:

1) Notice your patterns – Take a nonjudgmental look at the actions that you’ve been taking. Have you been using food as a coping mechanism instead of as a source of nourishment? Do you ever turn to food when you feel sad, down, or anxious?

2) Take stock of your emotions – How are you feeling? Are you trying to avoid feeling difficult emotions? When you are honest with yourself, can you admit that you have been feeling angry, overwhelmed, or depressed?

3) Make a commitment to feeling your feelings – Next time that you find yourself wanting to turn to food for comfort, make a commitment to being with your feelings for a few minutes instead. Get out a journal and write out anything that is bothering you. Give your thoughts and feelings a voice. Let it all out and don’t hold back. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is that you are feeling.

4) Decide how you will move forward – Now that you are conscious and aware of your emotions, it’s time to decide what to do next. Ask yourself: what will REALLY make me feel better? Be open to new ideas such as talking to a friend, going for a walk, taking some alone time, or getting some fresh air. See if you are willing to take one of these actions instead of turning to food for comfort. If you still want to turn to your comfort food, you can, but this time you will be fully conscious of what you are doing, which will create a completely different experience.


I hope that you find this process helpful!

The thing about these 4 steps is that they are fairly simple and straight forward, but they are not always easy to do when we are feeling stuck in old patterns or deeply entrenched in a vicious cycle.

If you would like some additional support as you navigate your relationship with food, then I have a really great program to share with you!

My friends Angelle and Jill at the Nourish to Flourish Society are running their seasonal 14 Day Reset this fall!

This is a program that I do every year to help me get back on track with healthy eating and set myself up for success!

The 14 Day Reset includes:

  • 14 day meal plan including recipes, prep lists, shopping lists, & seasonal fall food chart
  • Full menu plan including – smoothie guide, breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, eating out guide, and no recipe needed, simple & easy meal ideas
  • Daily emails with soul practices and self care strategies to support you on an emotional level
  • 2 live coaching calls on how to handle cravings
  • Group support via a private FB group for community, encouragement, and inspiration from hundreds of other women who are going through the program with you

I love this program so much and will be going through it for the 4th time this fall! If you are ready to get to the bottom of your emotional eating for good and stop this negative relationship with food from taking over your life, then I hope you’ll join me!

After my first two times going through this program and noticing how different I felt, I decided to become an affiliate because I found it to be so well rounded and helpful. As I mentioned before, I am not at all into starvation cleanses or fad diets, and I find the 14 Day Reset to be a really holistic way of taking care of our bodies as well as our minds. If you need help in this area, I know that you’ll love this program as much as I do!

Click here to learn more about the reset and sign up!

I am wishing all of us a year full of good health and happiness!

Be well,
Ambar

 

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