1. Mindful eating
4. Connecting with Others
5. Me Time
When it comes to emotional eating, in the moment, food appears to be the answer to your problems. When faced with stress or negative emotions, food can comfort you for awhile and push those feelings away. Unfortunately, this is a quick fix that doesn’t last. Those emotions that you push away start to push back, bubbling up to the surface perhaps stronger than before. This triggers your emotional eating and thus, the vicious cycle begins.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your emotional eating, if you feel out of control and stuck, then you need to discover new ways to fulfill your emotional needs. When you feel emotional fulfillment, you won’t need to turn to food to feel comfort.
Here are 5 ways that you can stop emotional eating in its tracks and meet your emotional needs in healthy ways.
1. Build Connections
Find people who are a positive influence on you. Whether you let them know about your emotional eating is up to you, but just having a supportive network of people can be enough to ease the impulse to turn to food for comfort. Having a friend or loved one to turn to is comforting and actually fulfills your emotional needs more than food can. To put this into practice, make sure to schedule time with others into your week. This may mean a weekly phone call with a friend, going out for coffee or dinner with a group of people, or simply reaching out to a loved one and asking for encouragement when something stressful happens. Having these connections supports you emotionally, way more than food can!
2. Practice Self-Compassion
When emotional eating happens, the most common response is to feel guilty about it and beat yourself up over it. Withholding self-compassion will only keep you in the cycle of emotional eating. The only want to break the cycle is to practice more self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and face the situation with curiosity rather than criticism. When you do this, you can discover the hidden meaning behind your emotional eating, rather than continuing to beat yourself up and keep you on the emotional eating rollercoaster.
3. Unplug Often
Everyone needs a break and time to recharge. When you don’t take time to relax and unplug, stress and difficult situations will almost always get the best of you, triggering emotional eating. But when you take time to unplug often, you’re better equipped to handle whatever difficult situation comes your way. By slowing down, you can take time to figure out what you need. Do you need support from others? Do you need to laugh and experience some fun? Do you need to sit with your feelings and process them? Discovering what you need to fulfill your emotional needs and stop emotional eating in its tracks can only be done when you take time to unplug.
4. Be Present and Accept Where You’re at
Being present can be a vague instruction but in this context, it means to accept where you are at this present moment. Whether you’re struggling with binge eating on a regular basis or just recently experienced a set back with your eating challenges, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re a work in progress. It’s okay not to have everything figured out and to be working on making changes. By acknowledging this, you will likely feel less stress and pressure to “fix” your emotional eating and thus feel less triggered to turn to food. Allow yourself time to make changes, progress and grow.
5. Practice Mindful Eating
Eating is a really wonderful experience if you take time to be present when you eat. This is known as mindful eating. When you fully experience the taste of your food, the pleasure that food can give and the nourishment it provides, you won’t need emotional eating as an escape or comfort. It IS possible to enjoy food and still be healthy, take care of yourself, respect your body and be happy.
If you struggle with emotional eating, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself:
Are you feeling fulfilled in your life?
Are you unhappy with one or more areas of your life?
Do you feel stuck or in a rut?
If you’ve said yes to any of these questions, it may be time to take a moment, re-evaluate your life and make a change. When you feel unfulfilled, you turn to food to try to “fill up” instead of getting joy and fulfillment from meaningful life experiences. The problem is, this leads to a vicious cycle of emotional eating because food will not fulfill your needs and deeper desires. Even if you temporarily feel better from emotionally eating, those uncomfortable feelings pop back up and you’re triggered to eat again.
Perhaps you’re not happy with your career, relationship, or you’re just lacking passion in your daily routine. Whatever it may be, creating a life you love can be pretty simple!
Here are 6 ways to create a life you love:
1. Make a list of things that make you happy
If a week goes by and you haven’t done anything that makes you happy, you aren’t living a life you love. Take the time to actually write down a list of all the things that make you happy. List hobbies, activities, people, thoughts, simple, and extravagant things. What things can you experience often? If you like to play volleyball, join a team that plays weekly. If you love spending time with your significant other, plan a weekly date night. By scheduling “fun” and making time for things that make you happy, you’re creating a life you’ll love.
2. Say “Yes” to something new
Follow your internal compass and try something new that you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you want to learn something new, make a career change or physically move. Whatever it is, listen to your heart and feel your desires. We often avoid change because at first, it’s uncomfortable. But if you want to live a life you love, you might have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable! Welcome new opportunities to learn and grow into a happier person.
3. Say “Goodbye” to toxic relationships
Sometimes you need to release people from your life. If someone repeatedly shows hurtful behaviour towards you, they’re toxic. If someone constantly makes you feel drained, confused, insecure, fearful or upset, they’re toxic. It can be very difficult and even painful to say goodbye to some people, but if they’re toxic, it’s well worth it! A big step in the right direction is deciding and believing that you deserve supportive and loving relationships – because you do! Once you believe this, it will be much easier to say goodbye to toxic people to make room for more loving and supportive ones.
4. Take ownership
While you can’t control what happens to you or what life throws your way, you do have control over how you respond. Take ownership for your actions. This requires some self-awareness and self-correcting. If you’ve ended up in a place you aren’t happy, how did you get there? How can you get yourself out? If you want to live a life you love, you need to make good decisions and take action to get there!
5. Express yourself
Sometimes it’s hard to speak your truth. You may be afraid of being judged and criticized by others, but if you don’t express yourself you won’t be happy. Expressing yourself could be in the way you speak, act, write or create. It includes letting your inner light and personality shine through along with expressing your feelings. Be true to yourself and you’ll be much happier and fulfilled for it!
When you live a life you love, you experience happiness, joy and greater fulfillment. You’ll no longer need food as a way to make you happy and you’ll heal your emotional eating for good!
No matter who you are or where you are in life, we’ve all experienced some kind of emotional pain.
This is normal. Everyone experiences this. But for some, it may be harder to let go of that pain. And if you don’t let go, you relive it over and over again in your mind. This can result in “getting stuck in the past” meaning you are stuck feeling the negative emotions associated with a painful experience.
Holding on to negative emotions associated with the past can be a huge contributor to your emotional eating. Have you tried to “bury” negative memories or feelings with food? Has it worked?
The problem with emotional eating is it doesn’t address the root cause of the pain – it simply tries to hide it. But by letting go of past hurts, you can heal your emotional eating and nurture your soul.
Sounds good? Absolutely! But what do people really mean when they say “let it go”? How can we actually let go of the past?
Here are 5 ways emotional eaters can let go:
1. Make a conscious decision
By making a conscious decision to let go of the past, you are giving yourself a choice of letting go. Without this choice, you’ll stay stuck in the past. So, make the conscious decision to move forward by taking steps necessary to let go of your pain and negative feelings from the past.
2. Express your pain
Whether this means writing a letter to the person who caused you pain (no, you don’t need to send it), screaming into a pillow, or talking with a friend, explore different ways to express your pain. Get it out instead of bottling it inside. Just getting it out is so beneficial and effective at releasing negative emotions!
3. Let go of being the victim
When bad things happen to you, it’s easy to play the victim. Someone else did this to me, it’s not my fault! While that is true, if you always have a victim mentality, you’ll never let go of the past. Instead, you need to accept what happened and take responsibility for NOW. How you feel and how you act NOW. The past may be out of your control, but you have control of your thoughts and feelings in this present moment. That is how you experience joy instead of ruminating in negative feelings.
4. Be present
When memories from the past start to creep up, just breathe. Breathing is one of the easiest ways to bring yourself back into the present moment. If you’re focusing on the present, then you won’t be stuck in the past. Breathing exercises and mindful meditation practices can be done daily or whenever those memories start to pop up. To feel joy instead of pain, learn to focus on the present moment.
Forgiveness is the final step in letting go. It will be important for you to forgive someone who wronged or hurt you in order to move on and let go of the past. But also remember that it’s just as important to forgive yourself. You may not even realize that you may have been blaming yourself for things that have happened in the past. In order to let go and move on, you need to practice self-compassion and forgive yourself.
If you get stuck at any of these steps, you can always ask a professional for help. A registered therapist or practitioner can help guide you through each of these steps and give you encouragement or a new perspective – whatever you need!
The holidays are over and a new year is upon us. And the new year means its time to make New Year’s Resolutions! If you’re someone who doesn’t like to make resolutions, that’s totally okay. But if you’re one of the many who make the same promise every year to lose weight, eat healthier, or finally take control of your binge eating, I’d like to propose that you ditch the same old resolutions this year!
At the root cause of emotional eating, is unexpressed and unprocessed emotions. While it’s great to work towards a healthier body, if you struggle with emotional eating, you’re more likely to benefit from focusing on your emotional health this new year instead! When we address our underlying issues, we begin to heal our emotional eating. We need to be emotionally healthy to also be physically healthy.
So here are 5 New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Emotional Health that I’d encourage you to consider this New Year:
1. Meditate Daily
Meditation has been linked with an increase in positive emotions. Time spent in stillness, silence and focusing on the present moment can unplug you from the busyness of your life and reset your mind and body. Spend 10 to 30 minutes in meditation every day and notice how it can help you gain a new perspective, shift your mood, process your emotions and renew your energy.
2. Express Gratitude Daily
Taking the time each day to reflect on the things that you are grateful for can help you maintain a positive outlook on life and thus manage emotional eating. When you choose to focus on positive things, such as relationships, good health, safety and security, you can come closer to a state of joy and satisfaction. Spend a few minutes each day writing about one thing that you are grateful for and why you are grateful for it.
3. Sit with Your Emotions
In order to manage emotional eating, you need to sit with your emotions rather than run away from them. When we fight our emotions – by pushing them away, avoiding them, or using food to forget them – we actually amplify the negative emotions making it worse in the long run. While perhaps uncomfortable, sitting with your emotions is the only way to process and release them. To sit with your emotions, note what you’re experiencing without judging yourself. Then, validate your emotions by accepting them.
4. Develop a Self-Care Routine
Self-care is one of the fundamental practices for managing emotional eating. Many of us get so wrapped up in our busy day-to-day schedule that we forget to pause and take care of ourselves. One easy way to make a self-care routine is to set aside 10 minutes for yourself every morning or evening. Whether it’s taking a bath every night before bed or reading quietly with your morning coffee, prioritize taking care of you first!
5. Invest in Personal Relationships
Relationships play an important role in our mental and emotional health. As social creatures, personal relationships provide us with companionship, love, intimacy and social support. Feeling connected to your loved ones makes you happier, more secure and feel supported. When you have fulfilling personal relationships, you are less likely to struggle with emotional eating.
These 5 suggestions are great resolutions to improve and support your emotional health this year. Whatever you choose to work on, remember to keep resolutions small and manageable.
All the best in 2019!
The holidays are a fun and festive time of year, but they can also be a very stressful time. As a result, the holidays can bring up both positive and negative emotions. Since emotional eaters eat in response to their emotions, the holidays may be a major trigger for your emotional eating.
You may also overeat over the holidays out of habit. Holidays mean dinner parties, dessert trays, cookies, chocolate and more! Instead of eating mindlessly, becoming more conscious and aware of what you’re eating can make the difference between simply enjoying holiday food and bingeing.
I love to eat and the holidays have no short supply of food. To prevent emotional eating and enjoy holiday eating, I like to come up with a plan to enjoy holiday eating without overeating and binge eating. Here is my plan for how emotional eaters can enjoy holiday eating:
1. Choose foods you truly enjoy
Know your favourite foods and if they’re there, enjoy them! Skip out of candy or other foods that you don’t think look or taste great. If something isn’t a 10/10 in my books, I pass on it and don’t think twice about it. But if something is my absolute favourite, I definitely take a reasonable portion and savour each bite! With this strategy, you’re less likely to overeat because you’ve gotten pleasure out of your favourite foods but you haven’t filled up on stuff that didn’t give you much pleasure.
2. Don’t mindlessly eat things you don’t care about
Around the holidays, you may feel more pressure to accept and consume food that’s been offered to you by others. If this sounds like you, remember not to eat mindlessly. Take a moment before you eat to consider if you’ve chosen this food to eat or if you feel like you should be eating it to be polite. It’s okay to decline food you don’t want to eat and won’t really enjoy. Being mindful of what you’re eating can really help to avoid overeating.
3. Don’t restrict your eating
One approach that emotional eaters often use is to create a list of restrictions and try sticking to it only to fail. If you go to a party telling yourself you’re not eating any sweets at all, you’re more likely to binge the next time you do allow yourself those foods. Instead, don’t put any food off limits. Enjoy reasonable portions of foods you really enjoy and leave anything that you wouldn’t rate a 9 or 10/10. By getting rid of restrictions, you’re giving yourself permission to eat and this can make a huge difference in managing overeating and bingeing.
4. Recognize your emotions
As I mentioned, the holidays can bring up both positive and negative emotions. Taking the time to recognize negative emotions during the holidays can help you to deal with them in a healthy way rather than coping with emotional eating. And you may associate holiday food with positive emotions which can still be a trigger for overeating. So be cautious by recognizing what you’re feeling and trying to separate that emotion from food.
5. Prioritize self care
Last but certainly not least, it’s really important to prioritize self care over the holidays. When you’re tired, you tend to overeat. Part of this is due to hormone imbalances but stress can trigger emotional eating. One of the best ways to manage emotional eating over the holidays is to stick to a regular self care routine. Whether this means fitting in physical activity, rest or time alone, taking care of yourself is necessary for managing emotional eating. And this doesn’t just apply to the holidays, but to any time of the year!
By following this simple plan, you don’t have to stress this holiday season about food. Even if you’re an emotional eater, you can enjoy holiday eating too! The holidays don’t have to mean bingeing or overeating, but simply enjoying the time with friends and family – and a few desserts along the way.
While a joyous and festive time of year, the holiday season is known to create extra stress and pressure which may trigger your emotional eating. Among the shopping, gift giving, and holiday parties, you might start to feel run down by working extra hours, committing to too many functions and events, and trying to make everything perfect for your loved ones. But wearing yourself out is the perfect recipe for overeating. When you’re stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, you might find yourself turning to (the high amounts of) food surrounding you for comfort!
When the holidays come around and your schedule fills up, it’s not uncommon for self-care to go out the window. But in order to manage overeating during the holidays, you need to make sure to prioritize self care. I believe there are 3 main self-care strategies that can work together to manage stress and as a result, prevent overeating.
1. Put Your Body First
When it comes to the holidays, it’s tempting to ditch self-care. You may skip your regular gym session for a work party or miss out on your sleep to get things organized for the holidays. But in order to get through the holidays successfully, make sure to put your body first. This means getting adequate rest, sleep, and physical activity. Even if you have to change your regular routine, try to schedule in some activity which is great for relieving stress! And although it’s tempting to skip out on your sleep, make sure to get adequate rest so you can be the best version of yourself throughout the holidays!
2. Schedule Time for Yourself
Along the same lines of getting enough rest, make sure to schedule some alone time. Let’s be honest, sometimes socializing – even with family and friends – can be draining. Especially if you find a lot of socializing overwhelming, make sure to balance that out with some quiet or alone time. Whether it’s going for a walk by yourself when staying at your relatives, or having a quiet weekend after a big party, do whatever you need to recharge!
3. Give Yourself Permission to Eat
The holidays can definitely be a difficult time if you struggle with overeating. It seems that everywhere you look there’s chocolate, cake, fudge, and more! If you are worried about binge or over-eating (although it may seem counterintuitive), give yourself permission to eat. When you give yourself permission to have dessert or an extra serving of food, you’re actually lessening the need to binge. Rationally, it’s not the end of the world to have an extra dessert here or there, so give yourself permission to enjoy your food. Eliminate any guilt or shame associated with eating foods you enjoy.
The key to giving yourself permission to eat without over indulging, is to eat mindfully. If you decide to eat an extra serving of dessert, truly enjoy it! Take it all in - how it smells, its texture and taste. Savour each bite and you’ll be more satisfied.
To survive the holidays and manage emotional eating, it’s imperative that you maintain a self-care routine. Taking care of yourself physically (exercise, sleep, nutrition) and emotionally (time spent alone or resting) will help to negate extra stress surrounding the holiday season.
Stay tuned for more helpful advice for the holidays!
Emotional Eating is eating to feed your emotions rather than your body. It’s sometimes referred to as stress eating because emotional eating is often triggered by stressful events or emotions. But emotional eating is more than just stress, it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism to handle your feelings. Knowing that you’re an emotional eater is the first steps towards healing, but many individuals don’t even realize that they’re emotional eaters! Maybe you think you just have self-control issues or simply love to eat.
But there are actually several signs you can use to identify if you’re an emotional eater. You may be struggling with weight loss or find it difficult to follow a healthy eating plan. You may want to lose weight, but not understand that your weight gain is a result of emotional eating. By creating awareness around emotional eating, you can start your journey towards healing it for good!
Since you first have to be aware of your emotional eating in order to change it, here are 6 signs you’re an emotional eater (and might not have realized it).
1. Thoughts about food consume you
Food obsession is something you may struggle with, thinking about it almost constantly. Food obsession could look like fixating on a diet, meal plan, or calorie consumption. If you spend a large portion of your day thinking about food this could be a sign that you’re an emotional eater.
2. You eat when you’re happy
While this may be surprising to some, often individuals emotionally eat when they’re happy - not just sad. You may see eating as a reward to happy news or emotions, and this is often learned from eating at holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations. While it’s definitely not wrong to enjoy food with others, be aware if you use happiness or a celebration as an excuse to overeat or binge on foods you enjoy.
3. You use food to fill a void
When you’re feeling down, you seek out “comfort food”. This might look like craving foods like ice cream, cake, chocolate and cookies that lead to overeating when you do consume them.
4. You eat even when you’re full
Even if you’ve just eaten and feel full, you’ll keep eating. You may not feel satisfied or you may actually want to stop eating but find you can’t. This is often the case when you momentarily feel better from eating and want to recapture that feeling with more food. You might even resist eating but can’t wait to eat again as you think about how satisfied you’ll feel when you get to eat.
5. You’ve followed (and failed) fad diets
Fad diets tend to make extraordinary (and unrealistic) promises. They promise rapid weight loss and suppressed appetites usually as a result of extreme restrictions. Fad diets create unsustainable eating patterns and ultimately damage individuals’ relationships with food. If you’ve found yourself on the diet rollercoaster, and constantly trying (then failing) to follow new diets, you’re likely an emotional eater.
6. Your eating feels out of control
When you’re emotionally eating, you’re relying on food for your happiness and to escape negative feelings. When you no longer eat based on your hunger signals, you’re emotionally eating. If you can’t put the food down or can’t resist overeating, you’re emotionally eating.
Becoming aware of your emotional eating is the first step towards healing. If these signs help you discover that you are an emotional eater, I’d love to hear from you! Speaking with a qualified therapist can help you understand why you eat emotionally and teach you how to manage it.
Dealing with some anxiety is a normal part of life. In fact, anxiety isn’t all bad. It can alert you of danger, motivate you and help you make decisions. But when anxiety becomes a daily struggle and interferes with your daily living, it can trigger emotional eating and other harmful coping behaviours such as avoidance or social isolation. If your anxiety is at this point, you may consider asking someone for help. Speaking and working with a qualified practitioner or therapist can help you learn to manage your anxiety and ease anxious thoughts as they arise.
If you find that anxious thoughts are triggers for your emotional eating, you’re not alone!
Here are 7 things I find helpful for easing anxiety naturally:
Anxiety often has physical symptoms. You may feel your heart start to pound harder, your muscles tense, your stomach flip and your breathing get faster. A simple way to ease these symptoms is to practice deep breathing. Why? Deep breathing is the key to relaxation (the opposite of anxiousness). Try my breathing exercise that you can find in my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit here.
2. Yoga and Meditation
Meditation is known for easing anxiety by stilling your mind and bringing yourself into the present moment. Yoga nidra is a guided meditation that is perfect for beginners! Here is a guided meditation you can try: Yoga Nidra Meditation
Make getting a good night’s sleep a priority. Sleeping recharges your brain and improves your focus, concentration, and mood. To sleep more soundly, block out seven to nine hours for a full night of uninterrupted sleep, and try waking up at the same time every day, including weekends. When you get enough sleep, you’re better able to manage stress and anxiety (without the unhealthy coping like turning to food).
Regular exercise is good for not just your physical health but your mental health too. Researchers have found that regular aerobic exercise (think jogging, walking, swimming or cycling) has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Only five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects!
Aromatherapy is the practice of inhaling the scent of essential oils to improve your well-being and can be a natural remedy for anxiety and stress. Lavender essential oil, for example, is thought to alleviate anxiety by inducing a calming effect on the central nervous system. I like to diffuse lavender in a diffuser or use lavender infused bath salts to help me de-stress and unwind after a long day.
6. Eat the Right Foods
Imbalanced blood sugar levels, food intolerances and poor-quality foods can all cause changes to your mood. Balance your mood by eating mostly whole foods and eating at scheduled times throughout the day. If you struggle with anxiety, it may be a good idea to try ditching caffeine for awhile and seeing if that helps. Caffeine is a stimulant which means it can cause similar symptoms associated with anxiety, such as feeling nervous, nauseous, light-headed, jittery and anxious.
People who struggle with anxiety often beat themselves up over it. But this only makes your anxiousness worse and can trigger emotional eating. Instead of criticizing yourself, try to show yourself some self-compassion. When you’re feeling anxious, what you really need is self-soothing. Treating yourself with self-compassion is just the self-soothing practice you need! Try positive self-talk and ample amounts of self-care – treat yourself like a small child or a loved one if they were in pain.
If you’re feeling anxious, these ideas may help! Not only can this help manage emotional eating, but it results in better overall mental and emotional health. Remember that natural remedies may help ease anxiety, but they don’t replace professional help. If you experience increased or persistent anxiety, please talk to your doctor about your concerns and treatment options.
I spent years hating my body. I could pick out a million things wrong with it. But hating my body left me miserable most of the time. I was either starting yet another crash diet or breaking that diet by bingeing and emotional eating. The real problem was that I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
Can you relate?
If you aren’t comfortable with your body then chances are you want to change it. Maybe you want to lose weight or just change your shape. But the truth is, weight loss won’t make you happy. It won’t make you automatically love and accept your body. If you nit-pick small imperfections now, you’ll continue to do so at a different weight too. Freedom from this is found by nurturing your body - the body you have right now. And when you nurture the body you have, your acceptance and love for your body will grow. And isn’t that all you ever wanted in the first place?
So, if you’re ready to ditch the self-loathing, negative self-talk and poor body-image, here are 8 ways you can nurture the body you have now!
1. Celebrate your strength
Switch your focus from appearance to everything your body can do. Whether it’s carrying 2 kids at a time, 6 bags of groceries or weights at the gym, appreciate the movement that you can do. A strong, active body is a beautiful body!
2. Let Go of The Scale
There are so many ways you can measure your health and wellbeing without being a slave to the scale. Instead of weighing yourself obsessively, ask yourself how you’re feeling. Do you have energy or are you tired? Do you feel sluggish or awake? Do you feel clear or bloated? Your body will give you clues if you’re eating or doing something that isn’t working. Try paying attention to these signals instead of just your weight. When you feel good, you look good!
3. Make Fitness Fun
Movement doesn’t have to be a punishment. In fact, may studies show that the best type of exercise is the type you enjoy! If you have fun, you’ll stick with it. Regularly moving your body helps to nurture it and you’ll reap the many physical and mental health benefits of being active.
4. Accept Your Body Type
If you’re barely 5 feet tall, guess what? You’re not going to look like a 6-foot supermodel - and that’s okay! Bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. If you take a moment to list off a handful of people you find attractive, you’ll probably realize they all look completely different. Instead of comparing your body type to others, focus on being the healthiest and happiest version of you!
5. Let Go of Perfection
Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t do. Your body will never be perfect but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great. Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses and change your inner dialogue to a positive one!
6. Focus on What Feels Good
The problem with most diets is that they’re too restrictive. They tell you everything you can’t eat and you’re left feeling deprived. Instead of creating a list of restrictions, create healthy habits. Experiment with whole foods and discover what you enjoy and makes you feel good! Food should be energizing and fuel for your day. It shouldn’t make you feel sluggish, bloated or tired. So, focus on what feels good to nurture your body.
7. Find an Eating Routine that Works for You
Some people like to skip breakfast while others can’t live without it. Eating and healthy living isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Figure out what works for you and create a routine that is manageable long-term.
8. Start a Gratitude Journal
Write down one thing you appreciate or admire about your body every single day. Once you get started, it’ll be hard to stop! The human body is an amazing vessel and does so much to ensure we’re able to live our lives to the fullest. Most people take their health for granted and don’t appreciate being healthy until it’s gone. Take time to appreciate all your body does for you!
Have you put yourself through extreme measures to lose weight? Whether its through restricting calories, carbs, excessive exercise or chronic dieting, many emotional eaters go through a vicious cycle of dieting, bingeing, dieting, bingeing. The problem is, diets teach us that we need to control what and how much we eat in order to be thin and healthy. So what do we do? We rely on willpower to keep us on track for a short period of time.
Willpower is defined as the ability to control yourself, or strong determination that allows you to do something difficult. But the problem is, willpower is just saying no - which is why it doesn't work. Relying on willpower to make eating changes may work for a short period of time – but only until you break it! Then you feel guilty, you may binge because you feel bad about yourself for not having any willpower and then the cycle starts all over again.
For the longest time, I thought that if I just had better discipline, I’d be able to lose weight, be thinner and as a result, be happier. This was because I had a poor relationship with food and my body and I’ve since learned that emotional eating is not a willpower problem.
Why Willpower Doesn't Work When It Comes to Eating and Weight
Your body regulates hunger, fullness, cravings and more through hormones (which act as messengers in your body). When you rely on willpower to follow a diet, you likely are ignoring your hunger cues, your cravings (which sometimes are good) and your natural eating patterns and appetite. What’s the problem with this, you may ask? Isn’t this how you lose weight?
When you control your eating through dieting, you're literally fighting against your body's natural functions! Ignoring your hunger cues and natural appetite means you end up eating less than you need. While this may result in some weight loss in the short term, your body is in panic mode and is trying to do what it can to get more energy. This means more intense cravings and a tendency to overeat and binge when you do eat.
In the past, whenever I’ve followed a diet for weight loss, it was always short term. I would want to lose X amount of weight in X amount of time. I would diet and restrict my eating only to get to my goal and start binge eating and overeating like crazy! Why? Because I was trying to control and change my eating in a way that goes against my body’s natural regulations and functions. That’s what diets do!
It’s time to break up with the idea that willpower is the way to weight loss and healthy eating – it’s not. Instead, you need to learn to trust your body.
Here are a 3 ways to trust your body and eat without dieting or relying on willpower:
1. Focus on making Personal, Healthy Choices
Controlling your hunger, eating, and weight is often the result of underlying fear. You may fear that if you give up control, you're going to gain weight. Instead of trying to control your hunger, focus on making a choice instead. Making a choice empowers you to make decisions based on your own best interest. Instead of operating out of fear, now you're thinking rationally about what you want and need! Remember that your dietary needs may change depending on your activity levels, your health status, your age, the season and more. So, assess your personal wants and needs and make your food choices accordingly.
2. Focus on Mindful Eating
Mindful eating will help you make food choices and decide what works best for you - while respecting your body's natural regulation of hunger and satiety. Read my blog on Mindful Eating for ways to adopt eating mindfully.
3. Stop Black & White Thinking
Don’t fall into the trap that you always need to make the best decision (that’s CONTROL). A dieter's mindset is completely black and white - "I can only eat these things", “NO desserts” or "I’m quitting all carbs". This leaves no room for imperfection, which really only sets you up for failure. Instead, treat yourself with compassion. No human being is perfect. It’s okay to choose foods that you enjoy even if they aren’t the most nutrient-dense. Enjoy your food and savour each bite.
When you learn that willpower isn’t the problem, you can start to heal your emotional eating for good! Are you ready to break up with your diet??
Do you ever feel lonely in a crowded room?
Even with people around us, we can all feel lonely at times. Loneliness and being physically alone are two very different things. You can be alone without feeling lonely and you can feel lonely even though you aren’t alone. How? Even if you aren’t physically alone, research has found that perceived isolation can lead to you feeling lonely. Any circumstance in which your social needs aren’t being met can lead to loneliness. You may be feeling disconnected from others due to life changes, lacking intimacy or trust in your current relationships, or not feeling fully supported by your social circle.
When this happens, persistent feelings of loneliness may trigger your emotional eating. This is because emotional eating is a coping mechanism to meet your emotional needs with a physical solution. The problem is this is only a temporary solution. Along with a vicious cycle of turning to food when you’re feeling lonely or sad, you may face health challenges like weight gain or body image issues as a result.
If you struggle with emotional eating, you may not have even realized that you’re lonely. If you have any type of perceived social isolation, it may be triggering your emotional eating. Perceived isolation is different from being physically alone. It could be a result of comparing yourself to others, not being your authentic self when you’re around others, or constantly trying to seek approval from others. In order to heal your emotional eating, you need to address the reason(s) for your loneliness.
So how do you resolve loneliness? Here are 4 ways that can help.
1. Live with Authenticity
Authenticity creates healthy intimacy with others which helps to satisfy your craving to feel accepted and feel like you belong. When you’re being your true authentic self, you can engage in meaningful social interactions rather than feeling lonely despite being around people. To learn more about living with authenticity, read my blog all about it here: (add link).
2. Improve Your Social Skills
Many individuals struggle with social anxiety and as a result, may refrain from creating strong relationships. By improving your interpersonal skills, it will help you communicate with others which is fundamental in building and maintaining close friendships and relationships. You can start by trying to attend more social engagements but if you need more assistance, consider speaking with a qualified practitioner who can support you and give you practical advice for overcoming your anxiety.
3. Join a Support Group
You may feel socially isolated if you’ve gone through something that you feel like others can’t or won’t understand. Whether you have a debilitating chronic illness, are grieving the loss of a loved one, have been abused or are going through a divorce, a support group can help you meet others who share a common experience with you. Meeting others who share similar experiences with you can provide social support and resolve loneliness.
4. Break Negative Thinking
Social isolation may be made worse with negative thought patterns. Projecting negativity can create a self-fulfilling prophesy in which your behaviour may push others away even further making it challenging for you to establish new social connections. If you struggle with poor self-esteem or depression, your negative thinking may be getting in the way of your social life. Realizing negative thoughts are just thoughts and not necessarily a reality can help you over negative thought patterns.
Having a strong social support and healthy social life is essential for managing emotional eating. Make sure to nourish your relationships with your time and attention. Spend some time today considering your current social life and ways to deal with loneliness.
These days, we’re more acutely aware of nutrition, diets and portions than ever before. New information is at our finger-tips 24/7 and health professionals, athletes, celebrities and social influencers are all chiming in on diet advice. Everyone is preaching a balanced diet with ‘portion control’ but for emotional eaters, controlling portions can be a huge trigger.
Does following portion sizes leave you feeling hungry, dissatisfied and frustrated?
Do you feel ashamed that you want to eat more?
Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve fallen into the trap of restricting my portions so drastically that I’ve ended up in a week-long binge. This is why I don’t try to ‘portion control’ anymore. However, I am still mindful of portion sizes. The difference is, now I eat mindfully and I’ve learned to trust my body. Because mindful eating is slow and steady. It’s relaxed and enjoyable. There’s little room for overeating when you take the time to enjoy your food and the entire eating experience.
But maybe you’re looking to achieve a healthier weight and manage your emotional eating and so you want to watch your portion sizes. Well, instead of focusing on ‘controlling’ your portions and restricting your food intake too much (which could trigger over- and binge-eating), use this Guide to practice mindful eating with mindful portions:
Start Your Meal with Soup or Salad
Three-course meals aren’t just for special occasions! Starting your meal with a soup or salad increases your fibre and water intake which among many benefits, helps to keep you full and satiated. Personally, I love salads because the sheer volume of them take a while to consume and by the end, I feel like I’ve enjoyed a large portion of food. If you usually end your lunch or dinner and immediately look for a snack, try adding a “starter” soup or salad and see how you feel.
Add More Veggies – Eat the Rainbow!
If you have any picky eaters in your house, you may already be used to hiding veggies in your recipes. But we could all use some more veggies in our diets – especially because they’re high in fibre which helps keep you full and satisfied! Try baking with them (chocolate zucchini muffins, anyone?), mixing them in your fruit smoothies, spiralizing noodles and throwing them into soups, stews and stir-fries. The possibilities are truly endless! When you add more veggies to your meals, you add bulk which means you’re eating more with many nutritious benefits! It’s a win-win.
Presentation is Everything – Pretty Food Tastes Better!
When food is visually appealing, we’re more likely to take time to really notice and appreciate it. And when it looks good, it will taste good too! This appreciation for our meal is what mindful eating is all about. By delighting our senses, we feel more satisfied with our meal. So, even if you’re getting take-out or eating something simple, take a few minutes to display it in a creative way. And it’s not just about the food itself. Use nice dishes, napkins, and serving platters to make your food look pretty!
Start with a Smaller Portion
If you start with a small amount and finish it (and are still hungry), you can always go back for more! But if you start with a large portion and eat it too quickly, you’ve already overeaten before your body can send the signals telling your brain that you’re full. The key here is to start with a smaller portion while eating S-L-O-W-L-Y. When you slow down, you are able to engage all your senses which increases satiety. And this is how you will learn to trust your body. Because when you eat slowly, you give your body a chance to tell you exactly when it’s satisfied. Over time, with slow mindful eating, you will naturally learn which portions are right for you!
Do you like yourself?
Are you happy with who you are?
Do you feel confident, secure and happy with yourself?
Take a moment to answer these questions honestly.
Some people seem to ooze confidence right from birth, but for the rest of us, it can be a challenge. Add in societal pressures to look, eat, and live a certain way, and it’s easy to see why so many individuals struggle with confidence and liking themselves.
If you struggle with emotional eating, there’s likely years of insecurities concerning your body, appearance and self. And it’s easy to see how these emotional eating and body image are closely linked. But what people often get wrong is thinking that you need to change the way you look before you can feel good about yourself. The truth is, learning to like yourself isn’t just about liking your appearance. It’s about building your self-esteem (regardless of what you look like) through self-acceptance. If you want to heal your relationship with food, I suggest learning to like yourself now!
When you learn to love yourself, your food challenges will quickly fade away for good. Now I’m not saying that loving yourself is easy – it’s definitely hard! But fortunately, liking yourself is a skill that you can develop and learn.
Liking yourself is really about building your self-esteem, which comes from accepting yourself as you are – not who you might be. This doesn’t mean you never criticize yourself again or refuse to change, but that you learn to accept your flaws and take the good with the bad, so to speak.
Here are 5 ways to do just that.
1. Embrace Your Strengths
We tend to focus more on our flaws and weaknesses, but we should really relish in our strengths and accomplishments too! Make a list of all your strengths and put it somewhere you’ll see often. Include physical attributes you like about yourself, personality traits and quirks you have, accomplishments and skills. If you’re struggling to come up with a list, ask your loved ones to help you out.
2. Surround Yourself with Empowering People
Do you notice your energy shift when you’re with certain people? Especially when it comes to emotional eating, dieting and body image, the people we spend time with can either be our greatest weakness or our greatest asset. Start to notice if the people you spend time with talk about themselves in a more positive or negative way. Do you talk about their insecurities or do they speak encouraging words? Surround yourself with empowering individuals who speak about themselves in a respectful and loving way. When you spend time with others who like themselves, it can empower you to start talking to and treating yourself better too.
3. Spend Time Alone
You may not have a full grasp of who you truly are and if you don’t know who you are, how can you like yourself? Spending time alone can give you a better understanding of your feelings, your abilities, your passions and interests. You will learn about who you are and this builds self-confidence.
4. Accept that No One is Perfect
I know when I compare myself to others, I’m usually focusing on their positive attributes where I feel I don’t measure up. (That’s why it’s a good idea to try to avoid compare yourself to others). But even if you do end up comparing yourself to others from time to time, it can be helpful to remind yourself that no one is perfect. Not you, not that celebrity on the magazine cover, no one. And that’s okay. Our flaws make us human, who we are.
5. Treat yourself like someone you love
How do you treat the people you love? With harsh words? Criticisms? Not paying attention to them? No! In order to start liking yourself better, start treating yourself better! How do you show people you love them? With affection? Quality time? Words of affirmation? We all have a love language we use to communicate our love to others. But direct that love language to yourself too! Whether it’s carving out daily time for self care, reading positive affirmations out loud or simply spending more time with yourself, when you treat yourself like someone you love, you’re bound to start liking that person more – I’m talking about you!
If you want to be happy with who you are and build self-esteem and body confidence, try treating yourself better and learning to like yourself a little more! What other ways can you think of to like yourself a little more?
Emotional eaters often use food as a way to meet their emotional needs. But while food can feed our bodies, it can’t feed our soul. The ultimate way to stop emotional eating is to “feed” our emotions with exactly what they want and need (Hint: it’s not food!). Food for our soul isn’t food at all and when we discover how to nourish our hearts and souls, we won’t have to use food for comfort.
So, what exactly do we mean when we say “nourish our soul”?
Nourishment can be defined as substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition. When we feel nourished we feel satisfied, whole, sustained, nurtured, happy and healthy. So, if we’re not talking about food, what nourishes you?
Nourishment for the soul might look different for each person – you need to discover what nourishes you! And when you do, you won’t need to turn to food for comfort because your soul will feel full and nourished already.
In discovering how to nourish your soul and “feed” your emotions with what they really want, here are 6 Ways You Can Feed Your Soul:
1. Be Still
While you may interpret this in the physical sense of not moving and resting, being still also refers to calming our minds. A great way to be still in both a physical and mental sense is through meditation. Mindful meditation brings us into the present moment where we can let go of worry, anxious thoughts and negative emotions. This has an amazing calming effect that nourishes our souls and balances out our hectic lives.
2. Help Others
Do you remember how you felt the last time you did something good for others? A recent study from Columbia University revealed that when helping others navigate their stressful situations, we are improving our own emotion regulation skills, and therefore, benefiting our own emotional well-being. Consider lending a listening ear to a friend or family member, going out of your way to do something nice for them, or even volunteering for a cause you really care about.
3. Spend Time in Nature
Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, helps to reduce anger, fear, stress and makes us feel good. Short-term studies have shown that exposure to green space and nature immediately reduces physiological markers of stress. Other benefits include encouraging an active lifestyle, breathing in fresh air, restoring mental energy and inspiring creativity.
4. Immerse Yourself in Music
Music truly feeds our souls. A song can comfort, energize, motivate, or inspire us! Whether you enjoy classical music, pop or rock, music helps us to express whatever we are feeling and nourishes us in a unique way. The next time you’re feeling stressed, try listening to some music you enjoy and notice how it affects you.
Play and fun are usually the first to go when we get busy. But scheduling fun things into our days and weeks helps to nourish and balance us mentally, emotionally and physically. Bust stress and nourish your soul by scheduling fun into your calendar now! This could mean riding your bike, going to a show, catching up with friends, or spending time with your kids.
6. Keep Dreaming
It’s so important to have goals and dreams! When we have something to look forward to, we feel inspired, motivated and fulfilled. Without a dream, where are we headed? Whether it’s related to your career or personal journey, wanting to achieve something brings enthusiasm and excitement into our lives. Pursuing our dreams is a great way to nourish our hearts and souls by giving us something to look forward to.
When we nourish ourselves mentally and emotionally, we feel full rather than empty. And that is exactly what emotional eaters are looking! These are just 6 of many ways to nourish your soul - can you think of other ways to “feed” your soul instead of turning to food?
Have you ever been calm, cool and collected one moment only to swing into full anger, outrage, or panic the next? Literally within seconds our emotions can change. Whether it’s something hurtful someone says to you, a crisis at work, or some other type of disaster, we can suddenly be filled with an intense, negative emotion.
For emotional eaters, this moment is critical. Out of habit, we look for something comforting like food. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve suddenly felt upset and my first action is to go get some candy or chocolate to feel better. But unfortunately, using food for comfort is a temporary fix, not a lasting solution. After we’ve “eaten our feelings”, those intense emotions are still lingering and we probably don’t feel any better. Instead of turning to food as a reaction to our strong emotions, we need to learn to manage those emotions in the moment.
Here are some tips to help you manage strong emotions in the moment – so that you don’t have to reach for food.
Stressful events trigger our fight or flight response which heightens anxiety and our emotions. We can turn our fight or flight response off by taking several slow, deep breaths. Lengthen both your inhales and exhales for several breaths. This can help to calm you down physically which may stop you for impulsively reacting (i.e. reaching for food).
2. Bring Focus to Your Body
Many individuals find vigorous physical activity to be a great way to deal with strong emotions. But in the moment, it may not be possible to drop everything and go for a run or hit up a kickboxing class. Instead, take a moment to feel your body. If you’re sitting in a chair, notice how your body feels in the chair. If you’re standing, bring awareness to your body sensations in that moment. This helps to bring focus into the present moment, instead of getting caught up with your emotions.
3. Be Mindful
Practicing mindfulness trains our brains to stay in the moment rather than focusing on the past or worrying about the future. When you’re overcome with a strong emotion, take a moment to notice your surrounds. Walk to a window and take a look outside. Notice your sensations – what do you smell, hear, or see? By practicing mindfulness, you can slow down instead of getting caught up in your emotions.
To learn more about being mindful, check out my FREE mindfulness meditation exercise.
4. Repeat a Mantra or Positive Self-Talk
A proven technique, repeating a mantra such as “It’s okay to be upset”, “this too shall pass”, “everything happens for a reason” or “I am comfortable with the uncomfortable” can help to calm you down. Alternatively, have an inner dialogue where you explore the storyline behind your emotion. When you’re experiencing an intense emotion, try to discover the root cause of that emotion. Perhaps a stressful event triggers thoughts such as “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not valued” or “I’m a failure”. Noticing these negative thought patterns is the first step to reversing negative self-talk into positive self-talk. Ultimately, if we can reply on more positive self-talk, when faced with intense emotions in the moment, we’re more likely to manage those emotions without turning to food or over-reacting.
When strong emotions hit, it’s okay to take some time to process them. There’s nothing wrong with feeling deeply or intensely. But if strong emotions feel overwhelming or trigger emotional eating, try these tips to manage those emotions in the moment.
When you think of the term “self-care”, what comes to mind?
Getting your nails done?
While all of these are activities that may be a part of your self-care routine, self-care is more than just pampering yourself. In fact, self-care should be a daily practice. Self-care is not something that you do once in a while because you are overly stressed or burned out, true self-care are things that you do all of the time.
Self-care is one of the pillars of managing and healing emotional eating. So, if you struggle with emotional eating – you would definitely benefit from regular self-care. Emotional eating is a temporary fix. If you feel bad, maybe cookies will make you feel better, right? But only for a moment. So instead of turning to food, we need to learn how to comfort ourselves in a healthier way. In comes self-care! By practicing daily activities that make us feel good, we are more likely to turn to these practices to provide us with love and comfort.
But what can we do daily for self-care? Well, essentially any activity we do deliberately to take care of our emotional, mental and physical health is self-care! Popular self-care activities that individuals may practice daily include meditation, yoga, journaling, movement and rest. But another daily practice I’d like you to consider is cooking! I believe that cooking your food is also a form of daily self-care.
For some people, cooking can be therapeutic and a creative outlet that they enjoy. For others, cooking can be a chore, tedious, annoying and even a source of stress! But even if cooking isn’t your cup of tea, it can still be a form of self-care. I used to hate cooking and honestly, sometimes I still don’t always enjoy it. Life gets busy and it’s much easier to grab something fast and convenient. Haven’t you found yourself in the same situation?
But the actual goal of self-care is to maximize our health and well-being. Not only our physical health, but our emotional and mental health too. By putting our energy into creating something that we consume, we are nourishing ourselves physically and emotionally. Cooking and preparing our food is a way to show our bodies that we care. And when we feel loved, well-balanced, and cared for, we are less likely to binge or overeat.
Self-care is my greatest motivation for cooking, preparing and enjoying my food. Whenever I’m not in the mood for taking the time to cook, I remind myself that I am taking care of myself and showing myself some much-needed self-love by cooking and preparing food that will nourish me.
The more I view cooking as a self-care practice, the more I enjoy it!
If you’re still wary of making cooking a part of your self-care (and actually enjoying it), here are some suggestions you could try:
· Go to a Farmer’s Market once a week and pick something new to cook
· Practice gratitude while you prepare your food – acknowledging your health, accessibility to food, ability to taste, etc.
· Treat yourself to a new recipe book or swap recipes with a friend
· Take a cooking class
· Practice mindfulness and pay attention to the sight, smell and taste of each ingredient while preparing your food
Cooking your own food is a great way to show yourself your love, appreciation, and respect. The next time you eat, remember that your food is nourishing you – not only physically, but emotionally too.
So, will you embrace cooking as a form of self-care? Are you ready to show yourself more love?
Stress eating is a common problem with emotional eaters. Maybe it’s been one thing after another at work, you’ve been working long hours, or everything seems to be going wrong. This chronic stress can leave you feeling depleted of all energy, overwhelmed, annoyed and on edge. It’s likely that in this scenario, an emotional eater is going to comfort themselves with food. Because when you’re stressed out, you crave comfort. And for most people, that means a bag of chips, chocolate, pasta or pizza.
Unfortunately, stress eating and eating for comfort can lead to out-of-control binges because we’re in an emotional state and not eating mindfully. When we repeatedly stress eat – due to all the chronic stress in our lives – this can lead to binge eating disorder, weight gain and yo-yo dieting.
To manage stress eating, we need to realize what is the root cause of this behaviour. It’s not the food itself, but the stress! Beyond stress eating, there’s a multitude of reasons why we should try and manage our stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause anxiety, depression, and insomnia, as well as lead to changes to our eating behaviour such as overeating.
If you are looking for ways to manage emotional and stress eating, I’d encourage you to take steps to try and reduce your stress. While some stress is necessary and unavoidable (especially when it comes to work and family), the approach I have found most helpful is to make sure I incorporate activities that are relaxing and enjoyable into my schedule. This is all part of my self-care routine. And one way I love to relax?
Did you know that research shows reading is the best way to relax, and even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels?
Research published in 2009 by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by 68 percent! Reading was found to work better and faster than other methods such as listening to music, going for a walk or sipping on a cup of tea. Psychologists attribute this benefit to the fact that we need to concentrate when we read which helps to ease tension in our bodies.
More surprising, was that the researchers found only 6 minutes of reading is enough to relax you and ease tension!
Incorporating Reading into Your Self Care
Maybe you’re not an active reader? Well the good news is that it really doesn’t matter what type of reading you’re doing. Whether you’re diving into a mystery, biography, or poetry, you are stimulating your creativity and reducing stress.
Here are some suggestions for adding more reading for relaxation into your routine:
1. Make a goal to create a habit
Maybe you make a goal to read for 10 minutes every night this week – and see what happens! Or tack it on to another activity. Having a hot bath? Take a book with you to really treat yourself.
2. Share with others
I love getting book recommendations from others and so I like to pay it forward too. Once I’m done with a book, I swap with a friend.
3. Listen to your books
If you’re really not a reader, maybe you’d prefer to listen to audiobooks instead. Just make sure you listen without any distractions to reap the same benefits.
4. Join a book club
Not only does this give you some accountability to make sure you’ve actually read, but it’s a great way to socialize, built community and new friendships.
So, what books will be on your reading list this summer?