Archive for the tag - emotional eating

Goods Foods Vs. Bad Foods.

Basic CMYKWe all know that things like ice cream, pizza and French fries are unhealthy choices. From a nutritional standpoint, these foods have lots of cons. Foods like these are often loaded in calories, saturated fats, salt and/or added sugars.

Recently, I read the following quote by Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN:

I don’t like saying there are good foods and bad foods - it’s so judgmental! I’m not saying French fries aren’t loaded with calories, fat and sodium, or ice cream isn’t rich in calories, fat and sugar, but saying they’re ‘bad’ foods invokes guilt on those who enjoy these comfort foods. Eating and enjoying food - even foods that aren’t the most nutritious - shouldn’t ever be done with guilt or shame. Eating should be one of the great pleasures of life! And if you learn to eat with pleasure, you may even feel more satisfied with less food.

When we eat with shame and guilt, these negative feelings can actually result in eating more unhealthy foods. That’s because many of us turn to food as a way to comfort and sooth through emotional eating. And as we eat even more of these unhealthy foods, we feel even more guilty - and the spiral of shame continues downward. It’s a cycle that needs to be stopped.

Moreover, labeling foods as good or bad isn’t doing you any favors. Dividing foods into categories of good and bad - and especially depriving yourself of those so-called bad foods - is the perfect way to trigger a binge. What you resist will always persist.

If you want a slice of cake, eat it. Enjoy it. Savor each bite.

But also pay attention to how your body feels afterwards. While healthy foods like salads, vegetables and fruit nourish our bodies and energize us, less healthy foods tend to make our bodies feel sluggish and unhappy. This is part of the eating experience, and when you tune in to it, it may make those unhealthy foods like ice cream, pizza and French fries a little less desirable.

If you love life (and I hope you do!), you must honor the vehicle through which you experience life. That vehicle is your body. When you look at your body in this way, the food we eat becomes more than just flavors. It’s also fuel. And because we want to keep our bodies in good working condition, it becomes easier to make food decisions that support your goals.

Forgive Yourself and Lose Weight.

Love-Yourself-FirstToday’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

Your relationship with your body is one of the most important relationships that you’ll ever have. And I’m going to share the number-one thing you can do to honor that relationship and create permanent, lasting results.

Forgive yourself.

Yes… this might sound simple, but if you’re like so many on a weight-loss journey, you can be relentless when it comes to self-criticism and contempt for yourself and your body. When you let go of the guilt and shame about how you look or how you’ve treated your body, you enter a world of love and positivity that helps you create the healthy body you want and deserve.

A self-forgiving state of mind helps you more easily release negative judgments of yourself. You’re then less likely to act on those feelings by hurting yourself and your body. You’ll naturally want to take better care of your body. You see, when you learn to love yourself unconditionally and forgive yourself more readily, you’re likely to eat healthier foods, give your body the movement it needs, and talk to yourself with greater compassion.

On the other hand, when your body is filled with the poisonous energies of self-contempt (and I know you have experienced times like this), you’re more likely to turn to food for comfort or self-punishment. The negative feelings can quickly lead to a very old and familiar sense of being out of control or a victim.

As you begin to develop the habit of self-forgiveness you will notice significant changes in your physical health and in your ability to no longer rely on food for comfort. And when you feel that love for yourself and your body, you might, for example, be less likely to skip Zumba class in order to head right home after work and watch TV.

So, how do you forgive yourself?

It takes patience and persistence. Here are three heart-based exercises to help you open to the healing power of self-forgiveness, love yourself more and bring peace to your mind.

1. Be Willing to Forgive Yourself

Self-forgiveness starts with a willingness to release guilt, shame and self-hatred. Open the space for this healing energy to enter your mind and body by setting the intention to do so.

Simply say to yourself right now: “I want to forgive myself.”

Additionally, write these words down on paper several times:

“I want to forgive myself. I want to love myself fully and treat myself with loving kindness.”

This may seem like a very simple process. It is. Don’t equate simple with ineffective. A sincere and deliberate intention to stop berating yourself, and to forgive yourself when you do, helps you take charge of your life, feel less like a victim, and stop the cycle of emotional eating.

2. Wrap Negative Thoughts in Love

We all fall into old patterns. So the next time you slip back into less than healthy eating or exercise habits and berate yourself with unkind words, turn to your heart for comfort.

For example, instead of dwelling on those negative thoughts and feelings, remind yourself you can stop. Take a deep breath. Then, focus your attention on your heart and at the same time think of a beautiful memory or someone you love. I learned this exercise from the Institute of HeartMath and it helps you feel calm very quickly. Then, say this affirmation to yourself or out loud while keeping your attention on your heart:

“I release these thoughts and feelings (or shame and guilt, etc.) into the arms of Love and I open to loving and forgiving myself.”

Directing your attention to your heart infuses your words with calming, heart-based energy. It is as if you are wrapping your self-contempt in a blanket of love.

3. Connect to Your Heart, Literally

Become quiet. Place your hand on your heart. Feel your heart beat. Now, while keeping your hand on your heart, say to yourself:

“I totally and completely love and accept myself with all my problems and all my limitations.”

Feel into this process. Repeat several times daily.

This exercise helps you connect with the loving energy of your heart. Your heart doesn’t judge you for overeating or for talking harshly to yourself. It simply keeps beating on. Feel that beautiful, consistent heartbeat and know that you are loved by the pure energy within it.

Practice the above steps faithfully and you’ll begin to create a lightness of spirit within you.

Be patient and have faith. Over time you’ll notice that the love you give to yourself on the inside will be reflected in the ways you care for yourself and look and feel on the outside.

Will you practice self-forgiveness?

Don’t Reward Yourself with Food.

dontrewardwithfoodFood is not a reward; you are not a dog.

Even so, the practice of using food as reward is very common - particularly as people work to achieve their fitness and nutrition goals. Having a good workout could mean treating yourself to a cookie. Taking an afternoon walk could translate to a slice of cake for dessert.

When we associate achievement with unhealthy food, we’re going to crave things like pizza or doughnuts or pie every time we do something good. It’s a dangerous way to train your mind, and it’s certainly not in alignment with your goals. Not to mention, unhealthy foods can negate all your hard work at the gym. It can be like taking one step forward and two steps back.

Want a better alternative?

Replace food with rewards that actually support your goals. If you stuck to your workout routine for an entire week, reward yourself with a new pair of running shoes. If you set a new personal record for a mile run, treat yourself to a massage. Or a lovely walk in nature. Or a new exercise shirt.

Food plays in an import role for all of us. And that role isn’t to reward us for doing great things. It’s to nourish and fuel our bodies so that we can continue to do great things.

Disappointed Sports Fans Eat More Fat & Sugar.

1623009 resLast night, my beloved Patriots football team lost to the Bengals 13-6. Today is a sad day across New England. And, according to a recent study, it’s also likely to be a day of increased saturated fat and sugar consumption as disappointed fans try to cope with the loss.

The study, published in Psychological Science, is the first of its kind to examine the impact of sports outcomes on eating. Previous studies have found correlations between losing teams and increased risky driving, heart attacks and domestic violence.

For the study, researchers from the INSEAD Business School looked at two seasons worth of NFL games and compared the outcomes with eating habits in a dozen cities. According to researchers, saturated fat consumption increased 16% for people living in cities with a losing football team. If the team won, saturated fat consumption decreased by 9%. Similar trends were found with sugar consumption - and the numbers were even more dramatic if a team lost unexpectedly or by a narrow margin.

In other words, people ate healthier if their team won and less healthy if their team lost.

But why? Researchers speculate that unhealthy foods are used as a coping mechanism to comfort disappointed sports fans. It’s called emotional eating - and it is a huge problem. In fact, it’s been estimated that 75% of overeating is due to emotional eating. Winning, conversely, seems to boost fans’ self-control.

If you’re worried about making unhealthy food choices due to a losing sports team, fear not. In their findings, researchers shared an easy fix: After a defeat, simply jot down the things that are really important to you in life. This technique, called “self affirmation”, was found to completely counter any negative effects of being defeated.

Let’s keep it all in perspective!

Run Your Feelings.

running-alonePeople do it all the time. You’ve probably done it. I’ve definitely done it. It’s called eating your feelings - and it’s a dangerous and misguided technique for self-soothing.

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than hunger. Instead of eating to fill a void in your stomach, it’s eating to satisfy an emotional need - and often involves cravings for very specific foods like pizza, ice cream, potato chips, etc. Because emotional eating usually involves unhealthy comfort foods, subsequent feelings of guilt or remorse are common.

In a nutshell, you eat because you’re angry, sad, etc. And then, once the guilt kicks in, you end up feeling even worse. It’s a downward spiral that serves no one.

While working with a professional to process your feelings is probably the healthiest alternative, I’ve got another, more accessible solution. Run your feelings. Hear me out.

Few things clear your mind like a good run. For me, running becomes something of a moving meditation. It’s right foot, left foot, right foot… One step, two steps, three steps. Breathe in, breathe out. And instead of having your mind race around an upsetting idea or thought, running allows your to channel and release that energy in a physical way.

Running allows me to take what’s in my mind and leave it on the payment.

And, unlike emotional eating, emotional running does serve your body with movement, exercise and a good sweat. Moreover, no feelings of guilt; instead, only the release of dopamine, serotonin and other neurotransmitters resulting in the euphoric runners high.

Do you ever run or exercise as a way to cope? Let me know in the comments below.

Is Your Hunger Emotional or Physical?

Today’s guest post is by Davey Wavey’s good friend and spiritual weight release coach, Diane Petrella. Diane is also one of the contributors to The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.

Do you know the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger? The signs seem identical until you learn their unique characteristics. Understand the difference so you can take charge of emotional eating and lose weight in the process.

Here are five traits that differentiate emotional hunger from physical hunger. This knowledge and awareness helps you prevent emotional eating episodes.

1. Emotional hunger occurs in response to your feelings. Physical hunger occurs because your body needs fuel.

If you tend to eat for emotional reasons, it’s not only due to painful feelings. Any feeling that is difficult to regulate may trigger the urge to eat. For example, you feel sad and turn to food for comfort.  Or, you feel excited about something and react by eating. It’s not the feeling itself that triggers the urge to eat; it’s the inability to let the feeling be present without stimulating it or numbing it with food.

Physical hunger is biologically based and connected to blood sugar levels in your body. Your body responds with a grumbling in your belly, a light-headed feeling, fatigue or a headache. You also may feel irritable or have difficulty concentrating.

2. Emotional hunger tends to come on suddenly. Physical hunger emerges gradually.

When your emotions drive your craving, the impulse to eat feels sudden, intense and urgent. You confuse an emotional need with a physical one. It’s not about the food, but food is the only thing on your mind.

With physical hunger, the sensations in your body develop over time. If you’re attuned to your body, you notice cues that your body needs food. You feel in control of these cues. Food is something you desire, but it can wait.

Sometimes, however, physical hunger does come on suddenly due to blood sugar instability. Please seek medical guidance to determine if this applies to you.

3. With emotional hunger you crave certain foods. With physical hunger you’re open to many options.

When you eat for emotional reasons, you tend to want specific foods, such as cookies, chips or pizza. You believe nothing else will help so you’re not open to alternatives.

When you’re physically hungry, you’re open to many food choices. Even carrots and celery look appealing to your rumbling stomach.

4. Emotional hunger doesn’t notice signs of fullness. With physical hunger, you stop eating when full.

With emotional hunger, you generally stop eating when you become numb to the feeling that triggered the impulse to eat. You’re not as attuned to your body because you’re satisfying an emotional need not a physical one.

When you eat because you’re physically hungry, and you’re able to control your impulses, you decide when you’re going to stop eating. You feel in tune with your body and respond to the sensation of fullness. You make a conscious choice to stop because you’ve eaten enough.

5. Emotional eating induces feelings of guilt. Physical hunger is satisfied with no remorse.

Emotional eating episodes perpetuate a cycle of self-blame. You eat because you want to feel better. You feel better at first because food numbs your feelings. Then, guilt and shame replace the feeling that triggered the impulse to eat in the first place. The cycle continues.

When you eat to satisfy a physical hunger only, your body feels nourished and you feel content. There is no guilt because you know eating fulfills a necessary need.

It’s Not About the Food

If you struggle with emotional eating, understand it’s not about finding the right nutritional plan. It’s about allowing your feelings to be experienced and released in a safe, nurturing way. Practice the Stop-Breathe-Reflect-Choose technique to create space between the urge to eat and acting on that urge. Identify and name the feeling you’re experiencing. Develop a list of strategies to help soothe and comfort yourself. Learn to allow your feelings to flow through you rather than push them away with food.

Do you understand your hungers? In the comments below, let us know how you cope.

How to Manage Emotional Eating.

Emotional eaters reach for food not when they’re hungry, but rather in reaction to what they’re feeling. Emotional eating may be triggered by sadness, anger, anxiousness or any other feeling - and food is used as the pacifier or cooping mechanism.

When we talk about reducing mindless snacking and controlling the amount of food we eat, it’s common to hear tips about hiding unhealthy foods or storing them outside of reach. And while these tips are helpful, they’re treating the symptoms and not the actual problem.

A new study by UCSF researchers, published online in the Journal of Obesity, looks at the relationship between mindful eating, stress reduction techniques and overeating. While the study was conducted only with women, I’m sure that men can learn from the findings as well.

The participants were divided into to groups. The first group was the control. The second group underwent a series of classes to help the women better manage their stress and understand their eating habits. The women learned meditation techniques and how to be more aware of their eating by recognizing bodily sensations like hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction.

Not only did the second group of women who received the training decrease their stress (researchers were able to measure drops in the stress hormone cortisol), but they also lost the most weight.

The lead researcher reported:

In this study we were trying to cultivate people’s ability to pay attention to their sensations of hunger, fullness and taste satisfaction as a guide for limiting how much they eat. We tried to reduce eating in response to emotions or external cues that typically drive overeating behavior.

She went on to note that additional research is still needed.

But this study does point to the importance of managing the triggers that lead to overeating - rather than just trying to reduce the eating itself. It’s certainly food for thought.

Are You Eating Your Emotions?

When my boyfriend moved back to Canada last Sunday, I suffered some heartache. And without much of anything to distract me, I quickly found myself craving - and reaching for - chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. As I dug my spoon into the container, I quickly realized that I was feeding my feelings more than my stomach. It’s called in “emotional eating” - and I’m not alone; experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotional eating.

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming food (usually “comfort” or junk foods) in response to emotional feelings rather than hunger. Emotional eaters use eating as a main strategy to manage their emotions, both negative and positive. It’s dangerous and addictive.

But are you an emotional eater? Here are a few signs:

  1. You’re eating and you’re not hungry. Emotional eaters are filling an emotional void, not an empty stomach.
  2. You’re craving a specific food. When you’re hungry, any number of options will satisfy that hunger. When you’re an emotional eater, you desire one specific food.
  3. You have an intense urge to satisfy your craving instantly.
  4. You turn to foods like ice cream, chocolate or other unhealthy comfort foods.
  5. You know that you are full and you continue to eat.
  6. After you eat, you have feelings of guilt.

The first step in treating emotional eating is recognizing it. Once recognized, there are a few steps that all of us can take to nip this unhealthy habit in the butt:

  1. Replace the food with something else. Instead of reaching for Ben & Jerry’s, go for a walk or a jog. Call a friend. Do housework. Or even take a nap!
  2. If you find yourself unable to replace eating with another activity, at least replace the food type. Instead of eating pizza or junk food, try consuming celery or carrot sticks.
  3. Know that you don’t need to eliminate junk food from your diet entirely. Instead, recognize that junk food isn’t a healthy way to cope with emotions. You can occasionally indulge for the right reasons. I recommend the 80/20 rule as a general nutrition guideline - eat healthy 80% of the time.
  4. Instead of eating the entire cake, try taking just a few bites. Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Food and Brand Lab at the University of Illinois, states: “Your memory of a food peaks after about four bites, so if you only have those bites, a week later you’ll recall it as just a good experience than if you polished off the whole thing.”

Eating your emotions is a habit that can be broken. It might take some extra help; if you’re overwhelmed by your food addiction, I strongly recommend that you seek professional help.

Are you an emotional eater? If so, what foods do you turn to?