Why Emotional Eaters Should Have an Evening Routine

 

Do you have an evening routine that you follow? Many emotional eaters struggle with overeating in the evening; at the end of a long and busy day, it’s easy to turn to food for some comfort and pleasure. If you struggle with emotional eating, and are looking for a solution to stop that late-night binge, consider incorporating an evening self-care routine.

Self-care is one of the fundamental ways to heal emotional eating. Self-care grounds you and can be a source of familiarity – especially if you follow a daily routine. During times where you are feeling physically, mentally or emotionally drained, your self-care routine can give you consistency and stability. This, in turn, will decrease your desire to turn to food.

 

Building an evening routine should be an individualized-approach.

Ask yourself these questions to help you determine what your ideal evening self-care routine could look like:

· Are there things I’m not doing that I’d like to be doing to care for myself?

· Am I taking care of my physical, mental and emotional health?

· What are some things I can do at night to relax and rejuvenate?

If these questions reveal that you do need to practice more self-care, make it a priority! If you have a family, communicate with them your need to spend 15, 20, or 30 minutes to take care of yourself every night. Hopefully, they will be supportive and understanding of this request. But if they aren’t, calmly explain that you are setting a healthy boundary for yourself. Self-care is necessary and you deserve to give yourself that love and care.

 

How to Build Your Evening Routine

There are 2 components to include in your Evening Routine: Self-Reflection and Rejuvenating Activities

1.   Self Reflection

Daily self-reflection is a great way to support your body and mind, and an example of this is journaling. Whether you make a gratitude list, rant about your day or write about feelings you’ve been avoiding, journaling is an excellent tool to self-reflect.

Some people like to verbalize emotions through spoken or written words, while others express these emotions through drawing, dancing, singing, or playing music. Other examples of self-reflection include meditation, prayer, or spending some quiet time alone with your thoughts.

 

2.   Rejuvenating Activities
Self-care is about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. This means taking the time to do activities that nurture and rejuvenate you. Self-care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.

Here are some examples of rejuvenating activities you can incorporate into your evening routine:

· Taking a Hot Shower / Bath

· Burning Candles

· Drinking Herbal Tea

· Diffusing Essential Oils

· Reading

· Stretching / Yoga

 

Your evening routine should be individualized so do what feels good for you! Remember that you can practice self-care any time throughout your day as well, but if you need to start somewhere, making an evening routine is the perfect opportunity!

 

Having an evening self-care routine means taking the time to do activities that nurture and rejuvenate you. Taking proper care of yourself in this way can reduce your need to emotionally eat and aid in addressing the underlying emotions causing the emotional eating.

How to Deal with Overwhelming Food Cravings

Let’s talk about food cravings. A powerful desire comes over you and you can’t take your mind off of a certain food. Maybe it’s a cheeseburger, fries, chocolate cake or chips. Regardless of what it is, we’ve all experienced food cravings at some point. However, individuals who experience overeating or emotional eating may battle intense food cravings on a daily basis. This can be extremely overwhelming and hard to manage. And typically, cravings are usually for foods high in fat, sugar, salt or carbs. As a result, if we constantly eat to satisfy our food cravings, it may lead to weight gain, poor digestion and other health issues.

There are several contributing factors that may trigger cravings. The onset of food cravings may be caused by hunger, food deprivation (extreme dieting), emotional upset, or even boredom. While some people attempt to control their cravings through will-power or distraction alone, finding the source of your cravings can help to manage them in a healthier way!

 

To deal with food cravings, ask yourself these 3 Questions:
 

1. Am I Eating the Right Foods?

Cravings, especially for sweets and sugar, are often the result of an imbalanced diet. If you aren’t getting enough healthy protein and healthy fats in your diet, you won’t feel satisfied and this can cause cravings. To ensure you’re eating a balanced diet, try to incorporate as much whole, unprocessed foods as possible!

Healthy protein options include fish, chicken, meat, plant-based protein shakes, yogurt, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Healthy fats include avocados, eggs, cheese, olive oil, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
 

2. Am I Eating Enough?

There’s a lot of noise and misinformation regarding food, nutrition and weight loss. We often think if something worked for one person, it will work for everyone – but this simply isn’t true! There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to health. So, while you may think you’re eating healthy foods, you may be eliminating too much in an attempt to lose weight quickly. This backfires as not eating enough causes intense cravings as the body attempts to find balance.

And this doesn’t just apply to your total daily food intake, but to each meal and snack as well. Do you often skip meals or wait too long to eat? Notice when you do this, you’re much more likely to experience cravings as you’ve gotten to a point of extreme hunger. Oftentimes, overeating is caused by imbalanced meals and not eating enough earlier in the day. If you notice you get cravings specifically in the evening or night-time, schedule balanced meals (and snacks) throughout the day. 

To learn your Hunger Signals and other helpful tips, Download my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit here.
 

3. Is there something else (not food) that I’m craving?

Are you craving food because you’re rewarding yourself or seeking comfort from a bad day? When we have this mentality and use food as a reward system, we are using food to address our emotions. Instead, figure out what you’re really craving. Looking for comfort? Chances are, you just want something to make you feel good. Instead of relying on food, maybe talk to a friend, ask a loved one for a hug, journal, or have a bath instead.

Are you trying to mask anger or sadness? While its easy to mindlessly turn to food, this doesn’t address what we’re feeling and why. When you’re experiencing intense food cravings, pause and see if you can identify what you’re feeling. Just learning to recognize your emotions is an important step towards managing emotional eating!


Food cravings may or may not be related to hunger. Act as your own personal investigator and figure out if your cravings are physical or emotional.


If you’re craving junk food, although it may seem counter-intuitive, what your body really is asking for is nutrient-dense foods. Prioritize balanced meals and snacks. If you make these changes and still experience intense cravings, its likely that you’re trying to escape from feeling uncomfortable emotions. Ask yourself what you’re really craving. It may be more love, intimacy, connection or comfort.


Satisfy these emotional cravings with self-care instead of food – a guaranteed approach to manage food cravings and emotional eating.

 

How A Positive Body Image Can Heal Emotional Eating

When you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you feel? Are you content with how you look? Do you accept your body as it is or do you feel ashamed of your body?

Body image is simply what we imagine our body to be. It includes all our thoughts and feelings about how our body looks. Several things influence our body image including culture, family, friends, and the media. Unfortunately, many people these days struggle with a poor body image and it can influence our health in many ways. We may turn to extreme dieting which can lead to nutritional imbalances and trigger emotional eating.  If you struggle with emotional eating, improving your body image can have huge benefits for your self-esteem and your relationship with food. 

Most people try to heal their negative body image by trying to change their body. They may turn to diet and exercise, or even surgery to manipulate their body. But even having an “ideal body” (by cultural and media standards) doesn’t guarantee self love and a positive body image. Luckily, the opposite also rings true – having an “imperfect body” doesn’t mean you’ll have a negative body image. Sounds good, right? To get rid of the pressure to have a “perfect body” and just be happy with yourself?

So, if extreme dieting and exercise don’t lead to a positive body image, what does? 


Here are 5 Ways to Improve your Body Image:
 

1. Focus on Nourishing your Body (Self-Care)

Nourishment is both physical and emotional. Physical nourishment is giving our body nutritious foods for energy and vitality. Focusing on nutrition for optimal wellness instead of weight loss can help heal your body image because the focus is on self-care. Similarly, emotional nourishment is also self-care – through love, affection and connection. Focusing on nourishment instead of restrictive dieting can have a positive effect on our body image because we are focusing on taking care of ourselves and showing our body the love it deserves.
 

2. Focus on the Joy of Movement rather than Exercise

If you missed my previous blog on Movement versus exercise, you can read it here. Eliminate any punishing exercise and experiment with any kind of movement you may enjoy. Consider dance, yoga, Pilates, walking, or playing with your kids outside! Focus on being present and in your body while you move instead of focusing on changing your body with punishing exercise.
 

3. Control Media Exposure

There are many ways we affirm our negative body image with one of them being images we see in the media. Constantly reading magazines with photoshopped images can make us feel less than and unattractive. Reading diet books or blogs can feed into our tendency to diet. Consider taking a break from these things and instead, focus on body positive messages, practicing self-care or unrelated areas of personal interest.
 

4.  Avoid Talking about your Appearance

Have you ever caught yourself complaining about your weight or appearance to a friend? Do they make their own comments of body hate? Talking and obsessing over our appearance is another way we affirm our negative body image. Notice what you and your friends talk about and try to refrain from conversing about your body in a negative way – which only feeds your negative body image. Instead, speak kind works of encouragement to each other and focus on giving and receiving love and support.
 

5. Let Go of the Numbers

Whether it’s the on the scale, measuring tape, or in your jeans, let go of the number. Most people try to heal their negative body image by aiming for an impossible-to-reach standard. Even if you think its attainable, let go of the pressure to be a certain size or weight. Your self worth isn’t determined by your weight or appearance. You are so much more than that! Realize that and remind yourself every day that you are worthy. Health comes in all different shapes and sizes!

 

Healing body image is all about creating a new relationship with your body. Just a reminder that this will take time and requires lots of practice. Start by implementing one strategy at a time. When you learn to love your body just as it is, you can heal emotional eating and truly be content and at peace with yourself.
 


 

Why Emotional Eaters Should Find Pleasure in Self Care

Taking care of your body is an imperative part of wellness, but healthy habits driven by fear and punishment aren’t very healthy at all and can actually hinder you from reaching your wellness goals. Too often, we view self-care as a chore and add things like eating healthy and exercise to our long list of things to do. You may feel pressured – from unrealistic standards set by society - to do a specific kind of workout, follow a specific diet, avoid certain foods, or lose a set amount of weight. But if you’re taking care of yourself like it’s a chore or worse, a punishment, you’re missing the pleasure aspect of self-care.  And when we miss out on pleasure, we’re missing a key component to our total wellness.

Pleasure

Humans have an innate desire to experience pleasure. We want to feel good rather than bad. And likely, our association with pleasure is feeling happy, relaxed, peaceful, and alive. We tend not to experience pleasure when we’re stressed, anxious, too busy or in a rush. If we don’t take the time to slow down and experience pleasure in our lives, we will continue to crave it and feel dissatisfied. Emotional eaters, in particular, will turn to food as a substitute for pleasure because its lacking in their lives.

The solution is simple – experience more pleasure! But how, are we supposed to experience pleasure when we’re always busy, with a million things to do and no time to do it in? How can we experience pleasure when we’re dreading our exercise regime? Taking care of yourself and your body should be enjoyable, so that you can experience pleasure in your journey of wellness and working on your health. This is what self-care is all about!

I encourage you to evaluate your eating and exercise habits and consider if you enjoy them or if they’re a burden. If you realize that there’s very little pleasure in your life right now, how can you change that? Can you find some pleasure in taking care of yourself?

Food & Eating

While emotional eating is using food to provide you with comfort and pleasure, its still okay to enjoy your food – without eating your feelings. Mindful eating allows us to eat slowly, be present with our meal and pay attention to all our senses. When you eat, do you take the time to notice how your food smells? How it looks? What its texture is and how it tastes? Taking the time to notice these things pulls us into the present and allows us to enjoy the food we’re eating. Therefore, mindful eating allows us to take pleasure in our food – in a healthy way! In contrast, emotional eating typically results in eating too much, too fast and as a result, we cannot register the same amount of pleasure from the food we’re eating. Try slowing down with mindful eating and see if you experience more pleasure from savouring your food.

For a free Mindful Eating exercise, get my Emotional Eating Tookit here.

Physical Activity & Exercise

The reality is, if you force yourself to do a type of exercise you hate, you won’t stick with it. You also won’t have the added benefit of feeling good during or after your workout is done! Get rid of any exercise regime you dread and swap it for something you actually look forward to. This could be a dance class, yoga, Pilates, or even boxing! And who’s to say exercise needs to be in a gym? You can just as well take care of your body by any type of movement you enjoy like walking, swimming, playing sports, or even stretching at home.
 

There are so many great ways to take care of yourself and enjoy it! Whether its setting a bedtime, sleeping in, or trying a challenging new exercise class, experiment until you find what works for you. If it feels forced – don’t do it. Remember that self-care looks different for everyone. While one person may love running, another person may dread it. One person may enjoy a relaxing bath while another may prefer a dance class. Discover what you truly enjoy and receive pleasure from – forgetting any kind of pressures or expectations.

Whether it’s the food you eat, the activities you participate in, or other self-care, experiencing pleasure is important for all of us. And when you experience pleasure in life through self-care, you won’t feel the need to satisfy your “cravings” with food.

 

How Perfectionism Can Contribute to Your Eating Challenges

 

If you struggle with emotional eating, here’s a question for you - are you a bit (or a lot) of a perfectionist? Perhaps you desire to have the perfect body, the perfect life, or be the best at everything you do. While being a high-achiever is impressive and has its benefits, there’s a self-destructive aspect to being a perfectionist. When it comes to your relationship with food, being a perfectionist isn’t all its cracked up to be.

 

Why We Need to Ditch Perfectionism

Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by an individual striving for flawlessness (perfection) in everything they do. But along with high performance outcomes, perfectionism often includes self criticism, high-pressure and unnecessary self-induced stress. With a perfectionist mindset, its easy to see how one’s relationship with body and food can be affected.

 For example, wanting the ‘perfect body’ could be your goal. Instead of making small changes over time that lead to a healthier lifestyle, you decide on Monday that you’re starting an extremely restricted diet – no sugar, no junk food, no treats. In fact, you’re going to eat smaller portions too. The problem with this is the body doesn’t like these extreme measures because its trying to maintain balance. When you restrict your diet so drastically, your body doesn’t get enough energy to function and survive. In an attempt to get the energy and nutrients it needs, you develop cravings to fix this imbalance. This results in craving junk food, binge eating and not being able to stop even when you feel full.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever attempted to cut so much out of your diet, but it only lasted a few days? Have you skipped meals during the day but then found yourself overeating at night? This is one of the challenges that a perfectionist may face when dieting – because they are being too extreme with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a perfectionist, you may have experienced this cycle of restrictive eating, then overeating, then repeat. 

With perfectionism, even though we’re striving for a better body, we’re actually damaging our relationship with food as well as our health, weight, and metabolism.  

So, what should we strive for instead of the ‘Perfect Diet’ or the ‘Perfect Body’?

 

1. BALANCE

Stop dieting. No, really! Instead of having a black and white list of foods to have or avoid, follow an 80:20 ratio of eating nutritious, whole foods most of the time and enjoying not-so-healthy foods in certain social settings when healthy options aren't available. You can lose weight and improve your health without extreme dieting measures. It's not about perfection, it's about balance. Each day and situation you're in will demand different things from you. Learn to go with the flow and make the healthiest choices available, but don't beat yourself up for enjoying your favourite yummy foods now and then. For more information on following a balanced and healthy diet, read my blog on Eating for Nourishment.

 

2. ACCEPTANCE

If we are no longer striving for perfection, it doesn’t mean we need to let go of all our ambitions, drive and desires. It simply means that we accept our humanness – flaws and all. We need to accept reality and learn to persevere through the minor mistakes or setbacks. We won’t always eat perfectly – and that’s okay. Bodies come in different shapes and sizes – and that’s okay. We all have different skills, talents, traits, and features – and that’s good! Our uniqueness is what makes us beautiful inside and out. Learn to accept that.

 

3. LOVE

When we strive for perfection, what we are really looking for is love and acceptance. Loving yourself is what makes you happy – not having the perfect body or following the perfect diet. If this is something you struggle with, begin by creating a nurturing self-care routine which is one of the foundations for healing emotional eating. To learn more about incorporating self-care, check out my blog on Building a Self-Care Routine


And remember that you’re allowed to ask for help! Perfectionists often have a very loud inner-critic. Changing your inner dialogue will take time and working with a therapist can help if you don’t know where to start. This is the ultimate gift you can give yourself – to work towards truly loving and accepting yourself just as you are. Flaws and all. =)

 

 

The Power of Positive Self Talk for Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is an unhealthy (and ineffective) coping mechanism for dealing with negative emotions. To heal emotional eating, we need to learn healthy and effective tools to help us cope. One useful tool is positive self-talk – positive affirmations to shift your mindset. These positive affirmations can manage negative emotions, boost self-confidence and improve body image, which can heal your relationship with your body and with food.

 

Most people don’t realize it, but we constantly have an inner dialogue as we go about our daily lives. Our inner voice or ‘self-talk’ includes our conscious thoughts as well as our unconscious beliefs. Some people are naturally more optimistic, while others tend to think more negatively. If you struggle with body image or self-esteem issues, then chances are your self-talk is often negative. Even if you aren’t aware of this now, with practice, you will learn to recognize negative self-talk when it happens.

 

Why Negative Self-Talk is Harmful

Think of a child or young person that you care about – whether its your own kid or someone you know (or even a young version of yourself). Imagine they are upset. How do you speak to them? Most likely you would speak to them in a loving and kind way. You would be gentle and understanding. You would never set conditions around your love for them or say overly critical things to them.

Now think of how you speak to yourself. Are your words gentle and encouraging? Are you critical of your body? Are you giving yourself the love you deserve – just like you give to others you care for? If you continue to let yourself have negative and self-destructive thoughts, you’re developing and holding onto toxic conscious and unconscious beliefs that keep you in a negative mindset.

If you can master positive self-talk, you will change your negative mindset which can help you achieve inner peace with your emotions, your body, and with food.

 

Challenge the Self-Talk

To challenge negative self-talk, we first need to recognize when it happens. Most likely, our negative thoughts are more prominent when we find ourselves feeling angry, stressed, anxious or depressed. Use these feelings to reflect on your thoughts.

Are these thoughts true? Is there another way to look at the situation? Is there anything good to focus on? Can I learn from this?

Asking these questions can help you recognize your negative self talk and give you the opportunity to replace it with positive self-talk! With practice, you may even recognize the exaggeration or inaccuracy of your negative self-talk.

 

Replace Negative Self-Talk with Positive Affirmations

Take a look at the chart below for some ideas on how you can change your inner dialogue:

Negative versus positive self talk

 

Remember that building up your self-confidence and relationship with yourself takes time. Practice being aware of how you are thinking about yourself and your body. When you catch yourself with a negative thought, challenge it with a positive affirmation. Repeat these positive affirmations over and over again – until you start to believe them! Over time, you will start to see a shift from negative to more positive thinking. Having a more positive mindset will have huge benefits for your relationship with body and your relationship with food!

 

Want to get off the diet roller coaster, stop eating emotionally, and lose weight?  Get my Emotional Eating Toolkit.

Self-Care Strategies for When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

At one point or another, everyone goes through a tough time. Whether it’s financial woes, a messy break up, a tragic loss, or just the pressure of daily responsibilities, its hard to stay grounded and feel balanced. And when stress, anxiety and worry start to take over, life can become overwhelming and you may start to feel burned out. In these times, you may drift towards emotional eating for comfort. But there's a way to manage this! 

How? Self-Care.

Below are 4 simple yet effective self-care strategies to try when you're feeling overwhelmed. If you start to practice these strategies when you're feeling run down, they can help you get back to feeling refreshed and rejuvenated!

 

1.       Sleep

If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, there’s a good chance your sleep has suffered. This may sound obvious, but if you’re exhausted, get more sleep! It is so important for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Studies have shown that poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress, and can have a significant affect on mood. (I think we’ve all been there!)

If you struggle with emotional eating or are feeling particularly emotional over something, ask yourself how you’re feeling physically. Are you tired? Try taking a short nap or going to bed early and see how you feel after. Chances are, you’ll feel much more positive and rejuvenated after a good night’s sleep!

If you have difficulties falling asleep or getting enough sleep, ensure that you are following proper “sleep hygiene”.  To learn more about sleep hygiene, click here: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips

 

2.       Breathing Meditation

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the easiest thing to do is a breathing meditation. The purpose of this is to calm your mind and experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Often, stress and tension are actually racing thoughts in our minds. When we practice breathing meditation, instead of getting distracted by our thoughts, we focus on our breath. Through this practice, our minds relax and we will feel refreshed.

Meditation can also help you be more in touch with your inner self. And when you’re more in tune with your thoughts and your feelings, you can address your needs better! This makes self-care a lot easier – which is essential for feeling grounded and balanced.

Consider adding a few short breathing meditations into your day. I’ve created a simple breathing exercise you can get from my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit to help get you started! 

 

3.       Do Something Fun

Sometimes we need to get out of our heads and just enjoy ourselves. Not only does constant worry and stress trigger emotional eating, but its just exhausting! Stress is just something we need to accept is a part of our lives, but we can manage that stress a lot better when we ensure that there is some pleasure in our lives too. While emotional eaters may turn to food for their pleasure, there are healthier ways to incorporate pleasure into your life. Schedule in fun activities weekly, or daily, if you can. Whatever brings you joy and rejuvenates you – make time for it. If you do this routinely, it will help you feel more balanced and as a result, better able to handle the stress of your daily life.

If you can’t think of many things that bring you pleasure in your life, start to explore some new hobbies and activities to try. It could be a new craft like painting, photography, or writing. It could be as simple as playing with your kids or pet. Whatever it is, make sure it puts a smile on your face and brings you joy.

 

4.       "Unplug"

We live in a society nowadays where our cellphones, iPads, and laptops are on us at all times. While technology can be great for keeping us connected, the constant emails, texts, calls, videos and social media can be over-stimulating - especially if you’re feeling burned out. “Unplugging” so to speak, simply means taking a break from the screen-time and re-focusing on you.

Consider spending time in the evenings or on the weekend where you disconnect. Turn off your phone and be screen-free for a couple hours. Go for a walk, take a nap, stretch, do whatever you want. It could be time you spend alone or time you spend with loved ones – whatever makes you feel refreshed!

Remember that while technology can keep you connected to others, building strong and meaningful relationships happen in real-life – not in front of a screen! So, take time for yourself and also prioritize spending time with others – to deepen your relationships which ultimately makes you feel connected, comforted, and fulfilled in your life.

 

Self-Care is Key to Manage Emotional Eating

If you’re looking for a healthier relationship with yourself, with food, your body and weight, you need to start with feeling your best – and you can’t feel your best if you’re constantly overwhelmed and feeling run down. Start to check in with yourself and recognize if you’re feeling out of balance and stressed. And if you can routinely do this and practice self-care when you need it, you can manage emotional eating and work towards a healthier, well-balanced you!

 

 

How Forgiveness Can Help Emotional Eating

What’s eating you? 

Emotional eaters tend to overeat to avoid being fully present with themselves and their unwanted feelings. If you struggle with emotional eating, you may be using food as an escape; an attempt to numb out certain feelings caused by unresolved conflict. Rather than “eating your feelings”, there are healthier and more effective approaches to address negative emotions. One way to do this is through forgiveness.

Studies have found that forgiveness can be very beneficial to your health from lowering the risk of heart attack to reducing levels of pain, anxiety and stress. When you don’t forgive, feelings of anger, resentment, rage, disappointment, blame or sadness linger inside you. Over time, these negative feelings cause chronic stress in the body and may drive you to emotionally eat. By making the conscious decision to forgive, you are letting go of these negative feelings. And when you release those negative feelings, you won’t feel the same strong urge to escape through food.

 

Learning to Forgive

Are you holding a grudge? Can you think of anyone you feel resentful towards? It could be a parent, partner, close friend, or even an entire group of people. The first step to forgiveness is to reflect and remember – what happened, how did it make you feel, how has it affected you since? You may have pushed past hurts down so far that it will take time for you to realize you are holding onto negative feelings.

Don’t rush this step – it can be a long process. Be patient and take the time to process any negative feelings that come up. If you’ve been deeply hurt by someone such as experiencing abuse, consider seeing a professional therapist who can guide you through this process. Only after taking the time to truly process your feelings, can you make the decision to forgive.

 

Try Forgiving with a Ritual

A ritual is easy to stick to and can help you come to terms with someone or something that has hurt you. Create your own ritual to help you move from anger (or sadness) to forgiveness. You may want to try writing a letter to the person expressing your hurt and anger. After you’re done, throw it out, rip it up, or burn it. Then, write another letter to the person expressing your forgiveness and the reasons why you’ve made this decision.

Whether it’s a misunderstanding with a co-worker or a long-held resentment towards a family member, unresolved conflict can affect you much deeper than you may realize. Following a ritual in practicing forgiveness can make forgiveness a more natural trait over time. Can you think of a ritual that will work for you? 

 

Remember to Forgive Yourself!

While it is important to forgive others, it’s just as important to forgive yourself. Oftentimes, we’re hardest on and most critical of ourselves. Most of us find it challenging to love ourselves unconditionally; set an intention to forgive yourself for any mistakes you have made or imperfections you think you have. You’re human and you’re allowed to make mistakes – we all do!

If you’re feeling resistant to the idea of forgiveness, consider the act of forgiveness as self-care. While holding a grudge and harboring negative emotions may seem easier, it may be the root cause of your emotional eating. Holding onto those negative feelings is actually harming you. So consider releasing those negative feelings by practicing forgiveness!

Forgiveness will release negative emotions and comfort you in a way that food never will.

 

Living an Authentic Life and How It Can Heal Emotional Eating

The most important thing to understand about emotional eating is that it isn’t just a problem or unwanted behaviour. It’s actually a symptom that has a deeper meaning. Emotional eating is a doorway to understanding ourselves and to identify deeper areas that require more love and attention. Your emotional eating may actually be asking you to live a more authentic life. Living with authenticity can actually heal your emotional eating by attaining satisfaction at a deeper level – deeper than what food can provide.

What is Authenticity?

Authenticity can be defined as being true to one’s own self in personality and character. What this means is that our actions and words are consistent with our beliefs and values. Being authentic means being ourselves, instead of what we think we should be or have been told we should be. Living an authentic life create inner peace which can resolve our need to turn to food for pleasure or comfort.

Living an Authentic Life

People often say “be yourself” but where do you start? Below are 3 areas to look at for Authentic Living:

1.       Your Beliefs

Take the time to reflect on what is important to you. What are your core rules or guidelines about how you see life, the world and how you believe is best to conduct yourself? Living with authenticity means living in alignment with your core values. What character traits do you value? Are you practicing these? Perhaps you need to make adjustments in your life so that you’re living consistent with your values and beliefs.
 

2.       Your Desires

Are you open and honest with yourself about your true desires in life? Oftentimes, we suppress or bury our dreams and longings – maybe because we don’t believe that they can ever be fulfilled. Whether these desires revolve around love and intimacy, family, education, career, travel or self discovery, if we aren’t honest with ourselves about what we truly desire, we won’t be happy or feel fulfilled. This lack of fulfillment may drive us to turn to food for temporary satisfaction. 

While you may not get all you desire, its important not to suppress or deny these desires. At least acknowledging them and feeling them creates more authenticity in our lives. Some of your desires may be unattainable, but often there are many ways for us to work towards achieving our goals and dreams!

3.       Honesty

Do you often withhold your true feelings from others? Whether its to avoid conflict, rejection or being too vulnerable, emotional eaters tend to keep their feelings bottled up inside. But part of living an authentic life means being honest with yourself and others. If you struggle with expressing yourself, begin with becoming more self-aware. Accept yourself for who you are – both strengths and weaknesses. Let go of perfectionism and strive to become more genuine in your actions and words.

Other ways to be Authentic:

·         Not withholding love or compassion

·         Expressing your creativity

·         Practicing forgiveness

·         Having personal integrity

·         Following your passions

·         Being mindful and living in the present moment

 

Living an authentic life means learning to honour and trust all that is within us. Whether you need to work on living according to your beliefs, trusting your desires, or opening up to others, living an authentic life can be a powerful way to heal emotional eating.

 

Want to get off the diet roller coaster, stop eating emotionally, and lose weight?  Get my Emotional Eating Toolkit.

Movement vs Exercise: How Changing Your Approach to Physical Activity can Nourish You

 

Self-care is one of the foundations for managing emotional eating. One aspect of self-care is the physical aspect – taking care of your body. While everyone knows that physical activity is good for the body, exercise may not always be “healthy” for you. Some people become obsessed with exercise, purely focused on how many calories they’re burning and using exercise as a punishment for their eating habits. When physical activity is a chore that you force yourself to do, or worse, done as a punishment, it creates unnecessary stress and negativity – even if you don’t realize it!

Do you have a nourishing or punishing relationship with physical activity?

If exercise can be used as self-punishment, then what is nourishing activity? Movement! Think of how children move and participate in activities – to them, its fun and play! They don’t worry about how many calories they’re burning, or if it cancels out the food they ate earlier. They are just celebrating being alive and having fun! As adults, and especially for emotional eaters, the goal is to move away from punishing activity and participate in movement that is enjoyable to you and ultimately, nourishing to your soul. For emotional eaters, this shift will help to manage emotional eating by creating a nourishing relationship with self. 


Exercise versus Movement

Look at this list below. How do you currently view physical activity?

exercise_movement_descriptions

While exercise is geared towards "results" and feels like work, movement is a celebration of your body, health and vitality.

Participating in activities that you enjoy adds pleasure to your life helping to reduce stress and negativity. For an emotional eater, this is essential to self-care and achieving a healthier relationship with your body and with food.

 

How to Incorporate More Movement into Your Life

Choose from any physical activity you enjoy doing where the focus is on having fun. Remember that traditional exercise isn’t bad in itself, but rather the negative mindset and approach towards it. If you love a certain sport, like going to the gym or really enjoy an exercise class, then keep doing it! If you think its fun, definitely incorporate it into your life.

Here are some activities you can try:

Dancing
Walking
Playing in the park
Restorative yoga
Jumping on a trampoline
Swimming
Going for a bike ride
Playing ping-pong
Rock-climbing
Rollerblading

 

Welcome more movement into your life - be in the moment, enjoy the activity and appreciate how your body works and moves. Move in a way that expresses yourself and give your body the movement it craves. This act of self-love will add more pleasure to your life and nourish your soul.

 

 

Heal Your Emotional Eating by Learning to Release Stress

 

Stress. A word we are all familiar with. Stress may be described as a general sense of feeling overwhelmed but when it comes to its relation to emotional eating, stress may be better described as experiencing chronic distressing or negative emotions. Whether related to work, family, relationships, or health, your stress stems from intense emotions that most likely are being suppressed, ignored, or poorly handled.

As an emotional overeater, feeling stressed can be a major trigger for compulsive overeating and binge eating. This is a temporary fix to make you feel better because food is being used as a distraction, and once you start focusing on food, you stop focusing on your feelings. However, when you rely on this quick fix method, your stress isn’t being released. Rather, it’s being bottled up and suppressed which means, it’s not going anywhere! Your stress then manifests itself in your body and is at the root of your emotional eating.

 While many of us have learned to deal with emotions, and subsequently stress, in this way, there’s another way – a healthier way! Emotional eaters, in particular, need to learn to release stress instead of bottling it up inside.

Below are 4 techniques that you can use to start releasing stress from your body.

If you are looking to address your emotional eating, I encourage you to try these out. They may feel strange at first, but try each of them a few times and see which techniques work for you.

 

1. Yell into a pillow

Yes, yell into a pillow – and as loudly as you can! You may want to hold back because you think someone might hear you, but don’t.  Pillows absorb a lot more noise than you might think. Alternatively, you can get a foam bat and hit a pillow. Put your full body into it, and don’t be afraid to make noise!

If you uncertain or uncomfortable with trying these, it may be easier to learn how to do this with a stress management counsellor who can help guide you through this process.

 

2. Write a letter

If a specific person is causing you stress, write a letter addressed to that person. Don’t worry, you’re not actually going to give it to them! But write it as if you were going to send it to them and make sure to express all your feelings in the letter. After you’re done, read it out loud and see how you feel. This should release some of your feelings and reduce the intensity of your emotions.

 

3.  Talk to somebody

Pick up the phone and call somebody you trust. If you call somebody who is judgmental, you are just going to feel worse, so choose who you call carefully. Talking to someone about how you are feeling will help to release and lessen the intensity of your feelings.

 Having someone listen to you also validates your feelings and makes you feel accepted, understood and loved. So having someone listen has a mood-boosting effect which will lessen the intensity of your stress and negative emotions.

 

4. Breathe

It’s as simple as that! Studies have found that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder. To learn more about the benefits of controlled breathing, check out this article from The New York Times: Click here 

 

Ready to put this into practice?

Sign up for my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit for a breathing exercise specifically designed for emotional eaters! 

 

Discover The Hidden Meaning Behind Your Emotional Eating

 

If you struggle with emotional eating, chances are something in your life is out of balance – whether you realize it or not. This is because emotional eating is often triggered by stress and attempts to use food to make yourself feel better. There are many difference areas of our lives that could be out of balance. You might be lacking purpose or meaning in your life, stuck in a job you hate, or maybe you don’t have the love and intimacy you desire to have in your life. When we are dissatisfied with a certain area in our lives, we often turn to food as the best available substitute to bring us pleasure or comfort. Can you think of a time when a challenging area of your life affected your eating behaviour?

 

While there is nothing wrong with receiving pleasure from food, when you constantly rely on food to receive temporary pleasure and fill a void, the line between physical and emotional hunger blurs and can lead to bingeing and overeating. Not only can this cause unwanted weight gain, but it also leaves us with feelings of guilt and shame and nowhere closer to satisfaction and overall contentment in our lives.

 

Yes, using food as a substitute for what you truly desire is challenging and a nuisance, but wait...it’s also a gift! That’s because your emotional eating has a hidden meaning. Your eating challenges are alerting you that something in your life is out of balance. Its trying to grab your attention and show you that your needs aren’t being met! You are trying to use food to overcompensate for that imbalance. But your emotional eating’s purpose is to show you what areas require more attention. Ultimately, it is asking you to dig deeper and grow as a person.

 

To discover the true message behind your emotional eating, take a look at all the different areas of your life and try to figure out which ones are not in balance. (Remember that no area is or will ever be completely perfect, but you should feel satisfied with each area of your life).

 

Look at the list below and rank each area on a scale of 1-10:

  • Work

  • Finances

  • Health

  • Family relationships

  • Partner relationship

  • Spirituality

  • Friendships

  • Hobbies & Interests

  • Home environment

 

The areas that you ranked the lowest indicate dissatisfaction. So, now you’ve identified which areas need some extra attention. Look at the area(s) you’ve identified and ask yourself these questions:

What can I do to create more satisfaction and happiness in this area of my life?

How can I feel less burdened by this?

Can I get support from others?
 

Remember that this doesn’t necessarily mean that you solve all your problems and get rid of them for good. But you should be able to explore some possibilities to make some improvements! Perhaps it means re-evaluating certain friendships or relationships which are causing unnecessary stress in your life. Maybe you need to create a  Self-Care Routine (check out my blog on that here) or maybe you need to re-direct your career. Whatever it may be, consider how you can create more joy and satisfaction in your life and go for it!



When you listen to what your heart is truly craving, you have discovered the hidden meaning behind your emotional eating and only then can you resolve it for good.

 

Want to get off the diet roller coaster, stop eating emotionally, and lose weight?  Get my Emotional Eating Toolkit.

How Communicating Your Feelings Can Improve Emotional Eating

Do you eat your feelings? For emotional eaters, you’re more likely to gain weight when you don’t communicate your feelings. So, the way to improve emotional eating and manage a healthy body weight is through open communication and expression of your true feelings!

Let's dig a little deeper and discover 4 reasons why you should consider communicating your feelings, especially if you’re looking to manage emotional eating.
 

1. It gives you a voice
 

When you express your feelings to another individual, even if that person doesn’t agree with you, or understand your point of view, you’ve still given yourself a voice.

When you share your feelings, start with the phrase “I feel…” which is an empowering statement because the focus is on you. Sharing how you feel to another person can perhaps open the door to finding a resolution but if not (we can’t control how others receive the information), you have still validated your own feelings and empowered yourself by giving yourself a voice.

 

2. It increases self-esteem

If you struggle with emotional eating you may also have low self-esteem. As a result, you may not speak up for yourself or you may feel like people don’t listen to or hear you.

Learning to speak up and communicate your feelings to others is crucial to improving self-esteem. Remember that you’re just as important as others and your feelings are valid. You have the right to express your feelings and opinions. When you communicate your feelings to others, you’re creating genuine, meaningful relationships with yourself and others.

 

3. It allows your body, mind and soul to be more connected

To live an authentic life, you need to be honest with yourself about your feelings, beliefs and desires.

 If you don’t feel comfortable communicating these things to others, try paying more attention to and sitting with your feelings. Some exercises like journaling or meditation can help you process your feelings. By paying attention to your deeper feelings, you are creating a stronger connection with yourself.

 

4. It creates a stronger connection with those closest to you

The findings of a 75-year Harvard study on what individuals should prioritize for a happy life were recently published (Read it here). The study showed that the key to happiness is...good relationships! 

The article clarifies that "it's the quality of your close relationships that matters…how much vulnerability and depth exists within them; how safe you feel sharing with one another; the extent to which you can relax and be seen for who you truly are, and truly see another.”
 

The way to build a stronger connection is by opening up and communicating your feelings. And when you build stronger relationships with those closest to you, you will ultimately be healthier and happier!

 

Hopefully you see that through communicating your feelings, you are being true to yourself and opening yourself up to others in order to build close, meaningful and fulfilling relationships.

And when you do this, your emotional needs are being met which means you won't need to turn to food for comfort.  :)


For more information, check out my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit!

 

Dieting vs. Nourishment: Learn a New Way of Eating

Chances are, you’ve followed a diet before. Maybe, you’re a chronic dieter and have been trying different diets for years. Well, how’s that working out for you? If you’ve struggled with yo-yo dieting, binge eating, emotional eating or any type of food challenge, then I want to encourage you to try something new – eating for nourishment.

When you stop trusting your body’s hunger signals and depend on someone else’s guidelines for eating – dieting – a strange thing happens. You start to obsess over food, your weight, calories, carbs – it may be all you think about! And this results in developing an unhealthy relationship with food. This type of eating comes from a place of fear and is based on deprivation.

But there’s a better way!

Nourishing your body comes from a place of love and self acceptance, and a focus on enriching your body and mind. Its aim is to develop a positive and compassionate relationship between food, body and mind.

 

Dieting vs. Nourishment

If you want to determine where your relationship with food is right now, and if you tend to follow a dieting approach or a nourishing approach, take a look at this chart and compare the two:

dieting-vs-eating-for-nourishment-emotional-eating.jpg

You can see that the main difference between dieting and eating for nourishment is really about your relationship with yourself – do you treat your body with love, compassion and acceptance? Or do you try to restrict, guilt and punish your way to a better body?
 

Eating for nourishment goes beyond the physical act of eating with an aim of restriction or weight loss. Instead, it involves acknowledging that we deserve to love ourselves while catering to our physical and psychological needs. It values the fact that food is nourishment, and is to be used in a way that fuels us for living our lives and enjoying our time on this planet!

 

So if you’re ready to quit dieting and start eating for nourishment, here are 3 simple steps to follow:

 

Eating for Nourishment
 

1. Make a list of foods you find nourishing and nurturing

What food makes you feel energized? What meal really satisfies you?
Make a list of your favourite whole grains, fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and proteins.
If you're feeling stuck, check out my blog post on Healthy Eating for Emotional Eaters
 

2. Eat these foods to fuel and energize you approximately 80% of the time

Focus on what’s going to give you the most energy to get you through the day.
Don’t skip meals and eat enough to keep you mentally alert.
 

3. Allow yourself to eat non-nourishing food (junk food) 20% of the time

Let go of the “perfect diet” – because perfection doesn’t exist!
When you allow yourself to eat yummy food that you really enjoy, you won’t develop intense cravings caused by deprivation.

Ultimately, following these steps can help you overcome your eating challenges and heal your relationship with food! The key is to find the balance between eating mostly nourishing, energizing food while still allowing yourself to incorporate and enjoy tasty, less-nourishing food into your eating.

 

Want to get off the diet roller coaster, stop eating emotionally, and lose weight?  Get my Emotional Eating Toolkit. 

 

Mindful Eating: 3 Simple Steps for Emotional Eaters

‘Mindful eating’ can be a powerful tool to gain control over your eating habits. Find out what mindful eating is and how to start this practice today!

What is mindful eating?

Mindful eating is simply applying mindfulness to eating. So, I guess the real question is, what is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the state of being conscious or aware of something. When we are mindful, we are focusing our awareness on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting our feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.

When we apply the concept of mindfulness to our eating, we eat with attention; noticing and enjoying our food when we eat it as well as noticing its effects on our body. When it comes to mindful eating, the focus of this practice is more so on how you eat, instead of just what you eat. That being said, it is still important to nourish your body with nutrient-dense food.
 

Mindful Eating for Emotional Eaters

Applying the concept of mindful eating can do wonders for your eating challenges. If you struggle with emotional eating, binge eating or overeating, mindful eating is the exact opposite of these things. Mindful eating allows us to pay attention to our bodily sensations when we eat such as our hunger and satiety cues, allowing you to notice when you are full and satisfied from your food. This practice takes time to develop, especially if you’ve struggled with disordered eating or chronic dieting for a long time.

And remember that this doesn’t replace eating healthy, balanced meals. Rather, the concept of mindful eating should be combined with a healthy mentality of eating nourishing foods to energize and nurture your body. When you eat in this way, slowly but surely you will reduce binge eating, overeating, and improve your overall relationship with food! 

 

3 Simple Steps to Practice Mindful Eating:

1) Eat sitting down
Sitting down to eat focuses your mind on eating which helps you get in tune with your bodily sensations and physical cues for hunger and satiety. This allows you to notice the point when you are full and satisfied from your meal, lessening the chance of overeating (mindless eating).
 

2) Eating without distractions
Our lives are full of distractions, especially these days, when we’re practically glued to our electronics. Try making your meals electronic-free by turning off the TV and putting down your phone. This will allow you to pay attention to and enjoy your food without distractions.
 

3) Eat slowly
Practice chewing your food. When you eat slowly, you have a chance to really taste and savor your food. This simple step can help overeating, aid digestion, and can even support healthy weight loss!

I created a mindful eating exercise that you can find in my free emotional eating toolkit.

Practice Takes Time – be patient!

Practicing mindful eating requires repetition and will take time, so be patient and take baby steps. I recommend starting out by applying these steps to one meal of the day. Eventually the goal is to apply these principles to each and every eating experience you have.

If other dieting and eating techniques have failed you in the past, I encourage you to give mindful eating a try! When you pay attention to and enjoy the food you eat every day, you’ll have less compulsion to emotionally eat and instead, eat to nourish your body and enjoy your life!

 

How Emotional Eaters Can Build a Daily Self-Care Routine

Self-care – taking care of your physical, emotional and mental needs – is essential for emotional eaters. When you set up and follow a daily self-care routine, you will feel full, nourished, and cared for. And when you nurture yourself with activities and things that soothe you, you’re less likely to turn to food for comfort.
 

Here are 6 Ways to Build a Self-Care Routine:

 

1.     Schedule some time for yourself every day

Whether it’s a cup of tea or coffee as soon as you wake up, or a relaxing bath before bed, setting aside a bit of time for yourself each day is important for your overall wellness.
 

2.     Add breaks in your day

Taking a few breaks throughout the day gives you a mental break from the work you’re doing. Over-working doesn’t help productivity. In fact, it will do the exact opposite. Managing your work-life balance and setting aside a few rest breaks through-out the day is a simple way to take care of yourself mental and physically.
 

3.     Over-estimate time for an activity

If you think a task will take you 30 minutes to complete, give yourself 45 minutes. Starting this practice will rid you of so much unnecessary worry and anxiety! By giving yourself extra time, you’ll be more relaxed and feel good about completing tasks within a timely manner.
 

4.     Brainstorm self-care ideas

Sit down and write out a list of everything that makes you happy and any activity you enjoy doing. You may not think of everything in one sitting, so leave the list out and keep adding to it when you think of a new idea. To get you started, a few self-care ideas are:

  • getting a manicure

  • going for a walk

  • spending time with friends

  • being alone

  • drawing

  • reading or writing poetry
     

5.     Tune-in to what and how you want to be nurtured

Emotional eaters turn to food for comfort, but you can replace eating with any activity that makes you feel good. Tune-in to what activities make you feel warm, safe and comforted whether its cuddling with a pet, talking to a friend on the phone, getting a massage or curling up on the couch under a blanket with a good book.
 

6.     Create a routine that works for you and follow it!

Now that you’ve brainstormed ideas and figured out what nurtures you, build a routine that works for you! Try scheduling a few minutes every day just for you – trust me, you’re worth it! And if it’s too hard or unrealistic for you to find time every-day, start with a commitment to do one activity a week that you enjoy doing.

 

 

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How to Recognize and Deal With Your Feelings

Emotional eaters often reach for food to temporarily numb themselves of their feelings. The problem with this is that when feelings are avoided and ignored, they haven't been dealt with and as a result, will continue to keep coming back with strong intensity. This leads to a vicious cycle of emotional eating and negative or strong feelings. 

While avoiding strong feelings may temporarily make you feel better, we can't break free of the emotional eating cycle until we learn to sit with our feelings. This means identifying and acknowledging our feelings and like many things, this is a skill that can be developed with practice. So to successfully manage emotional eating, we need to start feeling our feelings. So, how exactly is this done?
 

Here are 5 Ways to Start Feeling your Feelings:

 

1.      Slow Down

You won’t be able to notice or pay attention to your feelings if you’re always on the go and distracting yourself. Taking a few moments each day to check in with yourself is a good first step. Ask yourself what's good or bad, if there is anything unsettling or uncomfortable that you are feeling. If you can be specific about what’s bothering you, you can process it with more clarity.

2.      Breathe

Focusing on your breath is a great way to slow down and bring you back into the present moment, particularly if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. By taking a few moments to focusing on your breathing, you may realize how your emotions are controlling you. Try my 10 minute breath exercise in my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit (find it here).

3.      Notice what your feelings feel like in your body

The next step is learning to be aware of how you feel during an emotional experience. Intense feelings may come with physical sensations such as perspiration, a tightening in your chest, nausea, a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, a pounding heart or muscle tension. When you become aware of these physical sensations, you can watch out for them and use them as signals of awareness for intense feelings. As an emotional eater, this is a great way to become aware of strong emotions and ideally deal with those feelings in a health way instead of resorting to emotional eating.
 

4.      Journal your feelings

By writing down your feelings, you may become aware of the reason why you are feeling a certain way and as a result, that emotion lessens in intensity.  In my last blog, I gave several reasons for why writing in a journal can help manage emotional eating. If you don’t want to journal, verbalizing your feelings works the same way! Find someone you can talk to about your emotions whether it’s a friend, family member, counselor or psychotherapist.
 

5.      Mindful Eating

This is going to be the biggest challenge for most of us. If you remember to slow down and breathe throughout the day, you can practice doing the same thing when you sit down to eat. Learn to feed your body slowly, mindfully and in a relaxed state.  If you can do this, you will learn to nourish your body without overeating. Try taking a minute before your meal – just breathe. If you’re feeling worried or anxious, tell yourself you can deal with that after you eat. Take 10, 15 or 20 minutes to eat your meal slowly and mindfully. Pay attention to the smell, taste and texture of your food. The end result will be a sense of physical satisfaction from your meal, without the need to overeat.


Are you willing to try these steps? If you're ready to break free from the cycle of emotional eating and avoiding your emotions, then give them a chance! If you practice these steps, soon enough you'll be FEELING your feelings instead of feeding them!

 

Journaling to Manage Emotional Eating

If you’re an emotional eater, you may be feeling helpless and completely out of control. You may be fully aware that you ‘eat your feelings’, but don’t know how to stop. If you’re searching for help to manage overeating or binge eating, I have a simple strategy that I’ve found to be very effective – journaling.

Science has shown that journaling – verbalizing your feelings by writing them down - is very beneficial for emotional well-being. I have found journaling to be a very effective strategy for both myself and many of my clients to manage emotional eating. It’s as simple as putting pen to paper!
 

Consider these 4 reasons to start journaling for emotional eating: 



1.   It allows you to express and release your feelings

Writing down your strong emotions will help to release the intensity of those feelings. When you try to avoid strong emotions – such as sadness, anger or hurt - and try to push them away, they continue to come back and trigger emotional eating. By verbally expressing your feelings in writing, not only do you become aware of what you are feeling, but you can then release those emotions by acknowledging that they are there. When your feelings are validated, they don’t feel so intense and will ultimately, be released.

2.   It helps you slow down and pause

If you’re an emotional eater, maybe you struggle with anxiety and constantly worry. You may have bottled up emotions about past experiences you haven’t fully dealt with. Regardless of if your triggers are past or future, the point is, you aren’t in the present. Journaling can be a way to take a pause in your day, and truly be present in the moment. What are you feeling right now?  What stress are you experiencing? Take one minute to write down what you are feeling in that moment before you eat. By writing down these feelings, you are becoming more mindful and aware which is the first step in managing emotional eating.  


3.   It helps break your emotional eating habits

If you write down what you are feeling first, you may start to notice that your impulse to eat isn’t as strong. When you rely on journaling, you break the habit of turning to food automatically to deal with strong emotions and replace it with a healthier habit instead.


4.   It improves self-care

Simply put, self-care is giving yourself what it needs for overall well-being whether it’s physical, mental and emotional. By writing out your feelings, you are giving yourself some personal time to express those feelings. By taking care of your emotions in this way, you are taking care of YOU, resulting in a greater sense of overall well-being.

 

If you’re willing to give journaling a try but don’t know how to start, remember that this is an individual practice. As long as you are expressing your emotions, there’s no right or wrong way to do this!

 

When you start writing down and expressing your feelings,
you're on the right path to managing your emotional eating!
 
 

 

 

 

How Can An Emotional Eater Eat Healthily?

We all know there are foods that are “healthy”, but what is healthy for an emotional eater? One person says a burger is healthy and then two others say it’s really bad for you. A vegetarian would say it’s unhealthy, so would somebody following a low fat diet. But then a person who believes in Paleo says it’s perfect! It’s confusing. We need to figure out what is healthy for you!

These steps will help you figure out how to fuel your body and eat healthy.

1.     Create a list of foods you find nourishing and that you can stomach. I think all health plans can agree on the veggies –phew! But the rest of it is where we run into issues.

 Does your body feel good physically when you eat a burger? Does you feel morally okay with it? Is it a food that you find nourishing? Add it to the list.  Does dairy feel good in your body? For some this is a yes, and others they would say no right away. The other factor to keep in mind is if you enjoy it. If you were taught cottage cheese is a nourishing food and you can’t stand eating it, your body is not going to want to keep eating it. You will only eat it when you are trying to “eat healthy”. Take it off the list.

 

2.     Create a list of non-nourishing foods that you enjoy.  Yes, these are the candy, cakes and chips. We can all agree those are not “healthy” but they sure taste good! Notice when you are not on a diet, which foods you like. Write them all down. 

 

3.     Take the list of non-nourishing foods and divide them into high-risk foods and low risk categories. There may be non-healthy foods that your mouth loves. You can still eat these in moderation which I believe is 20 percent of the time. Do this without guilt, but make sure the specific food doesn’t trigger you. 

To give you an example my high trigger foods are brownies, ice cream and cookies. These foods would go on my list and I would know that when I am going through something emotional they wouldn't be most nourishing. I may not have them around because it would send me into a tailspin. When I feel more balanced I test it out and can bring them into my life if it feels good.My low risk list would include dark chocolate, chips, tarts, pies etc. I don't over eat these. What's on yours?

 

4. Once you have your lists focus on having a regular routine. This may be 3 meals and 2 snacks a day or 4 smaller meals. If you aren't sure try a few different routines out. These are not written in stone either. Let's learn who you are and works for you. Follow your own list of healthy foods and a realistic eating schedule. 

Chances are, over the years you have learned a lot about nutrition and can get do this. If you feel you need more help understanding what balanced meals look like, find a nutritionist that understands emotional eating. Before you hire them, ask them what there experience is with emotional eating. Follow your gut and make sure you feel comfortable with them. 

 

 

 

Natalie Shay is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in emotional eating. She struggled with her own weight for 20 years. She finally learned to stop dieting and lost 75 lbs. In 2007 she became a Registered Psychotherapist to help emotional eaters stop turning to food for comfort and lose weight without dieting. She helps support her clients and guides them to meet their goals to stop dieting and start living.
Natalie can be reached here

Holiday Stress Doesn't Have To Lead to Emotional Eating

It is that time of year where families come together.  This can be a very joyous time but also a stressful time. For an emotional eater, food is even more accessible and everyone around you is indulging so you join in.

It does not feel good in our body and our minds to eat until you feel stuffed. If you are eating to manage your stress or happiness it is even more critical to start enjoying eating for taste, not for emotional relief.

Imagine this new years you didn’t have to beat yourself up and set a resolution to start focusing on eating better.

So how do you self-care and manage emotional eating over the next few weeks?


One of the first things I try to learn about a new client is whether they are able to set boundaries for themselves.  Why is this so important?

Without boundaries, we cannot take care of ourselves, which can lead to stress or sickness. It is no coincidence that my inbox gets flooded during the holiday season with e-mails from people who are overwhelmed and have their health issues flare up.
 
Let’s take the famous analogy of being on an airplane when the air pressure drops. If you put an oxygen mask on a child before yourself, what can happen to you? I think you get my point. This is the same thing you need to focus on in your day-to-day life and even more so in times of stress.

So what is boundary setting? Some examples are learning to say no, listening to your body when it is burnt out and needs rest and doing something for yourself before doing something for others.

This may seem logical, but it can be overwhelming to try putting it into action.
So let’s start small.

1)   It's time to start taking care of you.

Why is this important? Many feelings are masked by not having boundaries in place. Feeling burnt out, angry, resentful, like you are trying to stay afloat… the list goes on and on. It’s time to start realizing that you have needs that aren’t being met, and that this situation is affecting your health and causing you stress. Write out why you feel you need to set boundaries for yourself around your family and friends and use this to remind yourself whenever you forget why you want to make this change.

With all the family gatherings, parties and shopping, it can be easy to forget that you need some “you” time. Look at your calendar this week and book off 1 to 2 days or nights for yourself – for you to do whatever you feel like. As tempting as it may be throughout the month to book something in, remind yourself that it is very important to take care of yourself. If that reminder does not work, think of it as a doctor’s appointment you cannot miss.

2)  Create a list

Create a list of the boundaries you feel you need to make with your family. You aren’t going to work on all of them right now, but you now have a list of boundaries you want to start implementing.

3) Pick one

Pick one boundary to start with this year. Write it out and start practicing it before your family gatherings. For example, you may decide that you will take half an hour a day for yourself.  Schedule it, and make sure to keep that half-hour for yourself. On the day of a gathering, continue this habit. Your aunt may want you to come by early to help set up, but this is more time than you want to spend with your family. Remind yourself this “you” time is crucial for your health, and let her know you can’t make it. This is time for you!

Another example may be deciding on how long you talk to a family member on the phone before or after the event. You can let them know you have 15 minutes, and when those 15 minutes are up you let them know you have to go. If they continue talking, remind them that you have something to do (even if that something is sitting on your couch for 15 minutes before the kids get home).

4) Write it down

Write down every time you respect your boundary. This will remind you that you are progressing. Any time you need this reminder, take a look at your list and see how you have been improving.

Remind yourself that this is a learning curve. You may not always do it “perfectly,” and sometimes you may not do it at all. You are not perfect; do you remember any past holiday season that went exactly the way you wanted it to? If so, you were probably on The Cosby Show (for those of you who are too young to remember, it was a show from the 80s of a picture-perfect family). Don’t beat yourself up! Recognize that you are trying to make a change and be GENTLE on yourself.  The more gentle you are, the quicker the change will happen.

Start practicing some of these steps. Eventually they will become second nature, and you will feel empowered to set boundaries whenever you need to. This is what self- care is all about.

 

Natalie Shay is a Psychotherapist and Life Coach specializing in emotional eating. She struggled with her own weight for 20 years. She finally learned to stop dieting and lost 75 lbs. In 2007 she became a Registered Psychotherapist to help emotional eaters stop turning to food for comfort and lose weight without dieting. She helps support her clients and guides them to meet their goals to stop dieting and start living.
Natalie can be reached here