4 tips that can help you make some changes
The topic of emotional eating is deep and complicated. There are numerous reasons and ways we abuse ourselves with food and there is help out there for those of us who need extra support. I am writing this blog to offer my personal advice based on my own experience with emotional eating. I have spent the last 20 years observing myself and my habits including self sabotage, my search for self love and acceptance, judgement, desire for control, body issues, and my deep and emotional relationship to food. I am not writing this as an expert in the field of therapy, but as a self-aware human being who has committed many years of my adult life to self exploration, healing and my personal search for self love and happiness.
Most articles we read about taking care of our health tell us to ‘reduce stress,’ eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, etc. They are right! When it comes to emotional eating, we have to add taking care of our emotional bodies to this list. How do we do this? By looking and feeling deeper inside ourselves and spending time listening to our emotional needs. This is not easy. In fact it can be very difficult to implement change into your daily life.
I am here to tell you to DO IT ANYWAY, and I will help you.
Stress, emotional and physical, is not something that happens to you. It is the result of choices you make and your belief systems. The moment you take responsibility for this is the moment you are on your way to change. You can choose not to be stressed. Nothing in your daily life has to change. What needs to change is your attitude toward your daily activities. Change takes time, so enjoy the ride.
The following ‘tips’ are not only to help us cope and heal from emotional eating, but for everyone who desires balance and self understanding. Please read this with gentleness knowing that it as an intimate testimonial, one person’s vulnerable view of self love and acceptance as an offering to you.
1. Take care of yourself and your health.
Get enough nutrients in your diet so that your body is in balance and doesn’t have binge cravings based on nutritional deficiencies. Sometimes what feels like an emotional craving can be triggered by the body’s need for nutrients or rest. If we feed our bodies well, we will not feel the lack.
Exercise every day. This doesn’t always mean a sweaty workout. Just move your body. Squeeze your muscles and stretch wide open. Take a walk. Dance in your kitchen. Take 15 minutes to do some yoga or just move freely. This is not only good for your physical body and immune system, but an effective mood enhancer as well. Take the pressure off and just move! Move in a way that feels good to you. The body awareness from exercise helps us take better care.
Rest. Many emotional food binges are triggered by high anxiety and fatigue. Beyond the basic need for a good night sleep, we need to incorporate rest into our daily lives. Our hectic urban lifestyles create higher levels of anxiety and tax the nervous system. This feeling of ‘being busy’ can directly lead to the need to ‘fill up’ so we can keep going. Don’t wait until you are sick to rest. It is extremely important to take a rest sometime during your day. Lay down and rest for 20 minutes. If you need help, listen to 3-5 of your favorite songs or a guided meditation.
Bottom line: Honor your body. Appreciate your body. Even if it is hard, even if you don’t believe it when you do it… Practice telling yourself you are ok the way you are. Your body is an amazing, magical vessel for your spirit to shine through. Love your body as you would love a new born child.
2. Physical touch.
This can be a ‘touchy’ subject because we all have different relationships to giving and receiving nonsexual touch. I can spout out statistics and tests that prove that physical touch is good for your health on many levels, but let’s get to the point.
What would it take for you to actually reach out and touch someone? Is there one person in your life that you feel safe to share touch with on a regular basis or invite a conversation about it? It is counter culture to ask for touch be it a long hug or to hold hands or rest their hand on your heart or sacrum for a moment to help you feel grounded. It is counter to the very culture that is enforcing stressful, independent, judgemental lifestyles that make us sick. So fuck that culture and put yourself first!
Try this. “Hey [insert friend’s name], I really want to try something out and I am wondering if you would be interested in experimenting with me. I want to reduce my amount of stress and anxiety by sharing more physical touch. Does this sound interesting to you?”
Start with more hugs. Try scheduling snuggle dates or massage trades. Or just hang out with a buddy and rest your hand on a part of their body while you talk. So many ways to do it.
Hug yourself. My mother died of cancer almost 4 years ago at age 67. After she died I realized that the only person who I really needed to hold me in my grief was her, but she was gone. So I tried holding myself. I imagined my mother inside of me, holding and rocking me like a child and telling me everything was ok. I literally hugged and rocked myself while I cried. This has become an extremely useful tool for me in the times that I feel lonely, unsupported and needing to ‘fill a void’. Whether you have a mother to hold you or not, I highly recommend holding yourself when you are feeling an emotional need for unconditional love.
3. Enjoy food.
We are wired to be rule breakers. Once we make something taboo, we crave it. If you make certain foods ‘naughty’ or tell yourself you are ‘being bad’ by eating them, your subconscious is going to make you want them more. Celebrate your food as you celebrate your body. Even when you have a little binge on something you love, celebrate it. Make food sacred. We will not abuse the things most precious to us. Think about it. If we curse our bodies and our food, it will lead us to self-punishment. Love the food you eat. Say a prayer of gratitude for every precious bite. If you get into the habit of doing this, the need for emotional eating will go away.
Just focus on the love and gratitude and let go of shame and guilt.
4. Binge mindfully.
Binges happen. The goal is to binge less and less often. Change takes time and you can’t expect perfection first try. It might take a while for emotional eating to stop. In the meantime, love yourself through the process. The only way to approach personal growth is to start loving yourself unconditionally. Happiness is your birthright and this life is short. Say no to shame and punishment, and say yes to self worth and the process of change. Again, easier said than done. Here are some tools for you to try.
Breathe. When you catch yourself binging, take a breath and lovingly acknowledge that you are binging. Try your hardest not to judge and shame yourself because this is the work of your mind to make you disembody. Remember that you are not alone and many other people are going through a similar experience. Take another breath and observe. Whether you continue to binge or decide to stop in that moment, just observe yourself and try to bring yourself back into your body. How? Breathe. Feel the food in your mouth. Feel the sensations in your belly and body. Don’t judge. Just notice. If it feels ‘bad’, just notice that it is just physical sensation and our brain decides it is ‘bad.’ It’s all good, all sensation and awareness. Feel it for as long as it lasts.
Don’t try to escape. Emotional eating can cause us to abandon ourselves and our feelings. Whether your urge is to vomit or smoke or drink to get rid of the feelings resulting from binging, don’t do it. Just take a few more breaths and feel the feels. Try sitting or laying down in a quiet place (no TV or internet distractions) holding yourself, writing, or calling a friend. The point is that if we stay present during the whole process and accept it as a process, we can start to understand and experience all aspects of the how and why we do this to ourselves. This is key to avoiding future emotional eating. We can start to track ourselves and possibly even predict an emotional food craving and learn to stop them in their tracks. But you have to be gentle with yourself. No punishment. You have been through enough!
REMEMBER. Change takes time. Emotional eating comes from a deep place. Start by loving yourself (YOU are worthy of this) and appreciating every bite of food you eat. Hold yourself and tell yourself you are ok and you are loved. Thank your food for the gift of life. Do this every day.
If this blog has helped you with emotional eating or in any way, please feel free to send us an email with your story to SweetRetreatsDR@gmail.com
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