Unless you are the most disciplined of souls, you have probably eaten emotionally in the past and will do so again in the future. The goal of positive change is not perfection, but rather, just becoming better. Even in the most primitive cultures, the act of eating food is done for so many other reasons than simply providing our body with the fuel it needs and we get a lot of pleasure from food; there is nothing wrong with this.
When, however, food becomes a primary means of dealing with stress, boredom and other unpleasant feelings, it can pose a serious barrier to your weight loss efforts. Here are some tips to curb emotional eating that have been successful for me personally, and I hope they will be for you as well.
Meditation has been a primary tool for promoting mental and physical wellness in Eastern traditions for thousands of years; there has been a growing interest in the West, both from the average person as well as members of the medical and scientific communities, and with good reason. Personal anecdotes and results from studies across numerous disciplines have found this simple act of sitting still can work wonders for our mental and physical health. If you are looking for ways to curb the destructive behaviors that sabotage your weight loss efforts, such as emotional eating, this is one technique you cannot afford to pass up.
One of the biggest issues with emotional eating (and every other problematic behavior) is the tendency to immediately try and quell negative feelings and emotions; we are not very good at being comfortable with discomfort and we must do something immediately to feel better and not think about what may be bothering us. Eating is one of the very common ‘’somethings’’ that we turn to and emotional eating usually does not consist of carrots and lean proteins, but comfort foods loaded with fat and/or sugar like a big hunk of cheese or a gooey dessert.
Meditation helps strengthen the space between that pure consciousness that is us and all those fleeting, constantly changing thoughts and emotions that are not us, just something we experience. When this space is strong, you react less often with destructive tendencies; you get more comfortable with being uncomfortable because you know it will eventually pass and the urge to make the bad stuff go away immediately is not as strong. Meditation helps change perception and with a more positive perception of events, the intensity of stress, anger and other feelings lessen and you will handle them more productively.
Allow Yourself to Enjoy Food and Think of the Big Picture
As someone who eats a pretty healthful diet, I used to feel a lot of guilt anytime I ate something not-so-good –for-me out of the sheer desire for pleasure. But, as I realized that it is okay to want to eat food just because it tastes good and it will bring some pleasure—the dessert you eat after dinner, the holiday treats at your work Christmas party,etc, your mother’s world famous macaroni and cheese. A reason that so many of us fail at successfully losing weight is because we try to go from eating with abandon to complete deprivation mode in one fell swoop. While this may work for some people, it is not going to for most.
Eventually, we are going to want to eat that brownie, and if we do it only occasionally, that is perfectly fine. Remember, you are looking to make lasting change in your lifestyle and when you look at the bigger picture, having these goodies on occasion will not derail your health provided that your diet is generally healthy. By developing a healthier relationship with food, you will reduce the risk of emotion-fueled binges brought on by powerful cravings for foods that you tell yourself you can never have.