Nobody is perfect. Of course we would all like to slay our emotional eating demons and only eat what we need in order to be healthy, but that’s not very realistic. Even adding in just a few treats may not be a realistic goal for us, especially if we have a lot of practice “dealing with stress” and emotions by eating. This has been demonstrated recently by Daris, one of the final 4 members of the Biggest Loser Television Show, but citing him is not a criticism of this young man…it is a reminder to us all the challenges that we face are not simply washed away because we have changed our bodies.
The truth is we all face stresses in our lives that cause us to self-medicate. Some of us choose food for that medication. Other people opt for alcohol, drugs, shopping and other activities that produce a temporary “high.” Why we can sometimes handle stresses without resorting to our drug of choice and other times we feel helpless is unclear. I have found it isn’t necessarily the level of stress. homeland project free tv Sometimes we can deal with a large stressful situation just fine, while what seems like a small thing pushes us to eat. I’m not a psychiatrist, but in my own self-discovery I’ve found that the “small thing” that pushes me to eat, upon investigation, turns out to not be a little deal after all. By belittling the situation we only serve to make ourselves feel bad-like we are weak, lack will-power, or destined to be fat. This more often than not leads to eat even more, perpetuating the cycle.
I encourage everyone to have a list of activities that they can do instead of eating when their emotions get the best of them. But even with this list, until we practice the new habit over and over and develop a new pattern, it is quite easy to fall back to the habit of eating to quell our fears, doubts, insecurities…and even happiness.
As Daris found, falling back into this pattern sabotages our weight loss success…he actually saw his weight increase by 2 pounds. Not because he had gained that much muscle…but because he had eaten, especially late at night.
If we can’t always avoid stress eating, then how do we keep that old habit from sabotaging our efforts like Daris? I’m not suggesting that self-medicating with food is healthy, or a way to lose weight, I’m just saying we can at least keep from making a bad situation worse if we follow a few strategies.
- Ask yourself why you want to eat
- Give yourself permission
- Make it a conscious choice
- Be gentle on yourself
- Quantity control by small portions
- Interrupt the pattern by doing something different
- Have healthy (or healthier) choices available
- Make yourself work for it-don’t keep it in the house
- Read labels
- Go to sleep instead
- Drink lots of water
Any one of these strategies can help you stop the unconscious binge-eating behavior that is a result of stress. Emotional eating does not have to last long. If you cut the behavior short then you will not sabotage your weight loss success. It isn’t the one time slip that will cause us to gain back the weight we have lost. It is repeating the old behavior that got us fat in the first place. Until we change our behaviors permanently we will not change our bodies permanently.