5 Ways to Like Yourself A Little More

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?

6 Ways to Feed Your Soul and Stop Emotional Eating

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.
 

5.   Play

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?

Managing Strong Emotions in the Moment

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.

1. Breathe

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.

Embracing Daily Self-Care with Cooking

When you think of the term “self-care”, what comes to mind?
 

Spa day?

Getting your nails done?

Sleeping in?
 

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?

Curb Stress Eating with Reading

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?

READING!

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?

 

 

Are you a Closet Eater? 4 Ways to Curb the Binge

Do you avoid eating in front of other people?

Do you eat small portions in front of others, but over-indulge when you’re alone?

Do you hide certain foods that you eat from others?

While not openly talked about very often, there are many individuals who struggle with closet eating –  a type of disordered eating where individuals avoid eating in public or in front of others. This disordered eating may be a result of individuals who are uncomfortable with eating in front of others, because they feel ashamed of their weight, how they look, or feel guilty for their appetite and food choices. I have struggled with closet eating myself, especially when I was uncomfortable with my body and weight. I have found that following strict diets triggers me to eat very strict meals in front of others and then secretly binge on sweets when I’m alone.

Not sure if you’ve experienced closet eating? Here are some tell-tale signs:
 

·  You have hidden food in your house

·  You have binged at unconventional times (right after meals, middle of the night, etc)

·  You tend to take small portions at meals but eat leftovers or large helpings afterward

·  You often overeat or binge when you’re alone
 

In private, closet eaters secretly binge – whether right after sharing a meal with others or raiding the fridge at midnight. Unfortunately, this pattern of bingeing, overeating and eating erratically may cause weight gain and cause you to feel out of control and helpless.

But there is hope!

Here are some helpful tips to manage and minimize closet eating:

1. Stop Dieting

As I mentioned, I find dieting for myself, and many others, a trigger for binge eating. Instead of restricting your food choices, focus on mindful eating. My general rule of thumb is to eat 70-80% foods that I know nourish me, provide me with sustaining energy and nutrients that I need to thrive. The other 20-30% is for foods that I absolutely love and enjoy simply because of their taste. Following this form of eating (versus following a restricted diet) is realistic, sustainable and best of all, empowering!

2Positive self-talk

If you find you are uncomfortable with eating in front of others because you are self-conscious about your weight, try some positive self-talk! Gently remind yourself that you need to eat and you’re not a bad person if you eat some “junk food”. Also, people may judge you and that’s okay. You have no control over other people’s thoughts or actions. But you DO have control over your own! Repeating positive affirmations right before you eat or while you eat may be helpful in overcoming your fear of eating in front of others.

3. Know Your Trigger Foods

There are certain foods I tend to keep out of the house because I know I will likely binge on them. Instead of having tubs of ice cream, chocolate, chips and cake at home, if I want a treat, I go out for an ice cream with my kids and enjoy the experience. Or I have dessert when I go out for dinner. This way, I am able to enjoy the yummy foods I really like without triggering a binge which may happen if I have a whole tub of ice cream or box of cookies at home.

4. Ask for Help

If you’re still struggling with binge or closet eating after trying the above suggestions, please ask for help! Often there are feelings we need to process and thought patterns and behaviours we need to dive into in order to heal emotional eating. Speaking with a registered psychotherapist can help guide you through this process.

At the root of closet eating is feeling guilt and shame over food and your eating habits. By following these tips, I hope you’re able to eliminate that shame and experience a positive and nourishing relationship with food instead!

 

How to Build Resilience

When faced with adversity in life, how do you cope? Do you bounce back from difficult times or do you seem to get stuck? Do you see stress as a major setback or an opportunity to grow?

Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from difficulties; to adapt and respond positively to stress. When faced with a tragedy, scare or problem, resilience is how well a person can adapt to the events in their life. A person with good resilience has the ability to bounce back more quickly and with less stress than someone whose resilience is less developed.

Everybody has resilience. It’s just a question of how much and how well you use it. Resilience doesn’t mean you don’t experience any pain or negative emotions as a result of the problem or trauma. Instead, it means you have developed the skills to deal with it quickly. For emotional eaters, cultivating resilience can be life-changing in healing emotional eating for good! If you have built your resilience, you are less likely to get stuck and turn to emotional eating for comfort when faced with adversity.

Everyone can build their resiliency. Like any skill, learning greater resilience comes with practice. Here are some ways to help build your resilience:

1.  Physical Activity

Physical exertion helps to counteract the effects of stress. Exercise can elevate our mood and increase motivation which gives us a more positive mindset. Feeling physically strong can help us feel mentally tough, too!

2. Social Connection

Relationships provide us with a support system. By having strong relationships, we have a strong support system we can rely on when things get tough. Knowing others have our backs can keep us positive and resilient against stress.

3. Practicing Mindfulness

A study published in Journal of Personality and Individual Differences highlighted a link between mindfulness and resilience. The study found that mindful people can better cope with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down emotionally. Practicing mindfulness means acknowledging our feelings without judgment.

4. Self-Compassion

When life is difficult, it’s easy for us to be overly critical and hard on ourselves. But compassion, not criticism, facilitates greater resiliency. When things go wrong, try practicing self-care to show yourself love and compassion instead of beating yourself up.

5.      Spirituality

Studies have shown that spiritual well-being and resilience are interrelated. Having a sense of meaning and purpose in life enables individuals to better deal with trauma. Being more spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean being more religious. Spirituality refers to the belief that you belong to something greater. Cultivate spirituality by meditating, practicing mindfulness, developing a personal belief system, volunteering for charity, and working towards understanding your own higher purpose.

Some people are naturally more resilient than others. These individuals tend to see challenges as opportunities, are able to maintain a positive outlook, and find meaning in the struggle. For others, it will take time, effort and commitment to build resilience and learn to have a more positive outlook. But that effort is totally worth it!

When you're resilient, adversity doesn’t get you down physically, emotionally, or psychologically – at least not for long!

4 Practical Tips for Mindful Eating

The benefits of mindful eating are no secret! Studies have shown that mindful eating can help minimize overeating and binge eating, manage weight, and ease anxious thoughts about food and your body. To learn about the basics of mindful eating, check out my blog Mindful Eating: 3 Simple Steps for Emotional Eaters

While mindful eating sounds great, it may be a big lifestyle change for you to start practicing, and any behaviour change is easier said than done. So, to get you started, I’ve come up with 4 practical tips for mindful eating that you can start today! Whether you’ve heard of mindful eating before and have been wanting to give it a try, or are just learning about it now, these tips are for you!

1. Meal Planning

Having regularly planned meals is so important to keep us energized and satiated which helps to prevent binge and overeating! When we don’t have a plan, our busy schedules may lead to skipping meals, mindlessly snacking throughout the day, or overeating at night. When we have even a loose plan for when and what we’ll eat each day, we’re less likely to overeat and binge since we’ve managed to nourish ourselves properly throughout the day.
 

2. Meal Prepping

If you’re able to prioritize planning your meals, you may find it helpful to meal prep too! While not for everyone, meal prepping is a great way to ensure you’re eating well-balanced meals each day. Instead of reaching for a frozen pizza or cookies when you get home because you’re starving, having something in the fridge or slow cooker that’s prepped and ready to go can help keep you on track and nourish your body the way it deserves. Meal prepping can be as simple as doing all your groceries on the weekend, or as intricate as cooking ahead of time and dividing the food into individual portions for the week. You decide what works best for you!
 

3.  Eat without Your Electronics

We’re all glued to our smartphones and tablets at every hour of the day, but unfortunately, this can be a distraction during our meals and inhibit us from eating mindfully. If you’re often checking your phone during lunch, try putting it away for at least 15 minutes so that you can have a distraction-free meal. By removing our electronics, we can focus all of our attention to our food and eating experience. This is what mindful eating is all about! Being present and enjoying all the great sensations of food. When we’re glued to our phones, we’re not able to pay attention to how our food looks, smells, tastes and feels. When we do pay attention to these things, we are tuning into our bodies and listening to our hunger and satiety cues. This ultimately is what prevents us from overeating.
 

4. Set a Timer

Mindful eating is the opposite of binge/overeating. While binge eating is characterized by eating fast, uncontrolled and absent-mindedly, mindful eating is slow and present. To practice mindful eating means to slow down! A practical way to slow down is to set a timer for one of your meals. If you tend to eat your lunch in 10 minutes or less, try setting a timer for 15 minutes and stretch out your meal. During this time, pay attention to your food and all the sensations you miss when you eat too quickly! Over time, try to make your meals a bit longer (in 5-minute increments) until it becomes intuitive to eat slowly.

If you struggle with emotional eating, remind yourself that diets don’t work! Instead, focus on mindful eating which may be key in tackling your eating challenges. Stay tuned for more practical tips!

Quieting Your Inner Critic with Self-Compassion

We’re all familiar with that voice in our head telling us we aren’t good enough and undermining our confidence and self-esteem. Whether it’s when you look in the mirror or going to try something new, that voice might be the first thing that speaks to you, whispering doubt and fear into your thoughts. Well, that’s your inner critic. 

Critical Inner Voice

We all possess an inner critic or critical inner voice. This voice is a negative internal dialogue inside your head. Common thoughts that come from our inner critic include:

"You're ugly."

“You’re unlovable.”

"You're fat."

"There's something wrong with you."

"She looks way better than you."

“You’ll never be good enough.”

Sound familiar? While everyone has this inner voice, yours may be getting louder and maybe it has taken over your thoughts and affected your behaviour. If you struggle with emotional eating and body image, chances are you’re listening and believing everything your inner critic is saying. The good news is that we can overcome and quiet our inner critic and free ourselves from constant negativity. The way to quiet our inner critic is with self-compassion.

Self-Compassion

Think of how easy it is to be kind to the people we care about in our lives. We let them know it’s okay to be human when they fail. We reassure them of our support when they’re feeling bad about themselves. We comfort them when they’re going through hard times. Most of us are really good at being understanding, kind, and compassionate towards others. But how many of us offer that kind of compassion to ourselves?

When our inner voice hounds us with criticism and negative thoughts we end up feeling worthless, incompetent and insecure. This may lead to negative cycles of self sabotage such as emotional eating. However, when our inner voice plays the role of a supportive friend, we can feel safe and accepted enough to get perspective and make inner or outer changes for us to be happy.

Self-compassion refers to being caring and understanding with oneself rather than being harshly critical or judgmental. Instead of being harsh and cold, self-compassion is soothing and offers comfort to your self. Self-compassion also involves recognizing that all humans are imperfect, fail and make mistakes. It connects our flaws with the human experience which gives us greater perspective of our personal shortcomings and struggles.

Practicing Self-Compassion

To quiet your inner critic, try to re-frame the observations made by your inner critic in a friendly, positive way. If you’re having trouble thinking of what words to use, think of how you would speak to a friend (compassionately) about the same thing.

For example, if you just ate an entire box of cookies and then start beating yourself up and your inner critic hounds you with criticism, here’s how you may respond with self-compassion. You may say something like “I know you ate that box of cookies because you’re feeling really sad right now and you thought it would cheer you up. But you feel even worse and are not feeling good in your body. I want you to feel better, so why don’t you go for a walk and then take a hot bath?” When you practice supportive self-talk and start acting kindly and with compassion, you will start to feel truly nurtured and cared for!

Creating and practicing a self-compassion mindset is how we can slowly and gently quiet our inner critic.  Because compassion should be extended towards ourselves and not just to others!  We all make mistakes and no one is perfect. If we put this into perspective, we don’t have to listen to our inner critic and believe everything it says. So, the next time you hear your inner critic, instead of believing it and letting it affect you negatively, thank your inner critic for its efforts, then try the strategy of giving yourself some compassion instead.

 

How to Stop Being A People Pleaser

Do you often find yourself pretending to agree with everyone? Apologizing often? Do you find it hard to say no? Do you feel responsible for how other people feel? If the answer to these questions is YES, then you’re probably a people pleaser.

While it’s completely normal to be conscious of how your behaviour affects others, denying your own needs for the sake of others isn’t. This can lead to people taking advantage of you, feeling burnt out, miserable and may trigger emotional eating. People-pleasing can be a serious problem, and it’s a hard habit to break.

Often this behaviour is hard to unlearn because it’s reinforced from such a young age. When we make others happy, we receive approval and conditional love from them. This pattern of behaviour teaches us to seek validation from others by making them happy even if it’s at the price of neglecting our own needs. But when we deny our own needs just to people-please, we sacrifice self-care, self-respect and self-love. It is so important to set boundaries as a form of self-care.

Especially for individuals who struggle with emotional eating, being a people pleaser denies yourself the healthy boundaries and self-care that you need and deserve. To heal emotional eating, you need to learn to meet your emotional needs with proper self-care – instead of with food. So, are you ready to stop being a people pleaser?

 

Here are 3 simple steps to stop the cycle of people pleasing:

1.  Check in with your gut

Check in to see how YOU feel. Listen to your gut feelings instead of focusing on what you think the other person will say. Before saying “yes” to that next commitment, ask yourself the following: Do I want to do this? Will this benefit me in a way that I’m looking for? Do I have the time for this? Will this add to my stress? Listen to your own voice and trust your gut to decide if you should say “yes” or “no”.

For many of us, the word “sorry” has become something we reactively say, regardless of whether we’ve done anything wrong. Often, we are using it as a way to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Before automatically apologizing, ask yourself: Did I actually do something wrong? Did I really want to communicate that I think I did something wrong?

Check in with your true feelings before automatically apologizing, taking the blame, or agreeing to do something you don’t really want to commit to.
 

2.  Plan your response

If someone asks you for something, stall and tell them that you’ll think about it instead of automatically saying yes. This allows you time to check in with your gut feelings. If your gut is telling you that this is a commitment you’re unable to make, then the next step is to plan your response. Write out what you would ideally like to say to the person and start practicing saying it out loud. The more you practice your response out loud, the more confident you will feel and sound. If you’re afraid of expressing your feelings to others, this is a great way to practice and build up your confidence!
  

3. Practice with Others

Breaking any cycle takes time and requires practice. Start slow and with safe people – pick one person that seems less scary to express to. When the opportunity arises, practice voicing your honest opinion, saying no when you need to, and prioritizing your needs before trying to please others. While this may seem overwhelming to you, take small baby steps and start off with one person until you build more confidence. Remember to persevere and celebrate your progress!
 

If you still find you’re struggling with unlearning your people-pleasing behaviour, remember that you’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. You actually don’t have the power to make others happy – but you are responsible for yourself. For YOUR happiness and YOUR well-being. So, take care of yourself first! And if you need further guidance, speak to a qualified therapist who can help you take small steps toward change. When you learn to break the cycle of people pleasing, you will be able to prioritize self-care, set healthy boundaries and take control of your emotional well-being.

 

Let Go of The Perfect Diet and Heal Your Emotional Eating

So many of us live in fear of changes to our bodies; especially changes that we perceive as negative such as weight gain, changing body shape, and declining health which may lead to chronic illness or disease. This fear leads us to try and control our bodies through diet and exercise. We may think that if we just follow a diet exactly, we’ll lose weight and be healthy. And this isn’t really our fault, we’ve been led to believe that eating the perfect diet is the key to optimal health. But the truth is, there is no perfect diet, no one-size-fits-all. The perfect diet doesn’t exist because are lives are constantly changing and as a result, our nutritional needs change as well.

Consider these following factors as they may affect our nutritional needs:

Age

How you eat now is extremely different from what you ate when you were a baby. Newborns reply solely on breast milk or formula to thrive and grow. Then, as children grow, they require different nutrients and so new foods are introduced. Nutritional needs change through adulthood as well. Therefore, we can’t have one perfect diet because we have different nutritional needs over time.
 

Lifestyle

Some individuals work at a desk all day while others do manual labour. Some people train for competitive sports on a daily basis while others prefer more leisurely activities. Based on these differences, your lifestyle will depict your nutritional needs. It’s silly to compare what you eat to someone who has a completely different lifestyle than you, yet haven’t you ever caught yourself doing just that?
 

Season

Have you ever noticed you prefer certain foods at different times of the year? Maybe you prefer more salads and fresh fruit in the summer time while in the winter, you tend to choose more heartier meals. This is actually completely normal! Environmental temperatures affect our body temperatures which may influence our preference for hot or cold foods, amount of liquids, portions, etc.

 

How and what we eat is an ongoing process of learning and discovery. With age, lifestyle and season, our nutritional needs will change. Instead of fearing change, we should embrace it! We need to learn to let go of the perfect diet. If you struggle with emotional eating, this can be pivotal in improving your relationship with food. Instead of focusing on following a “perfect diet”, here’s how to change your relationship with food for the better:
 

1. Be adventurous

Instead of worrying about the nutritional value of every food you eat, be adventurous and try new foods just for the experience. You’re bound to discover a few new foods that you enjoy. You know what they say, variety is the spice of life!
 

2. Eat mindfully

Enjoy your food by eating mindfully! Pay attention to all your senses when you eat to have an amazing food experience. Food is supposed to be a pleasurable thing – as long as it’s done in a healthy way. While overeating and binge eating is driven by emotions, stress and feels out of control, mindful eating is slow, takes place in the present moment and brings awareness to our body. Instead of trying to follow a perfect diet, make sure to eat your favourite meals or foods – just as long as you eat mindfully! Savour each bite and have a great food experience.  
 

3.  Listen to your hunger cues

Our society is obsessed with numbers so you may feel like you need to focus on numbers when it comes to food. Ditch the scale and calorie counting and instead, rely on your internal hunger cues. This means, paying attention to hunger pangs and also how you feel when you eat. Are you still hungry? Help yourself to another serving! Feeling full? Save the rest for later. Remember to eat slowly and mindfully to give your body time to send the signals to your brain when you’re satisfied. This helps to prevent overeating.
 

4. Honour your food preferences

One of the major flaws with fad diets and meal plans is that they don’t take into account individual preferences. While some people love carrots, other people hate them! Honour your food preferences and choose foods you like and make you feel good. Just remember that feeling good means your body is full of energy and you feel alert after eating instead of feeling sluggish and tired.

 

While you may have convinced yourself that following a perfect diet is the key to optimal health and happiness, the take away is that the perfect diet doesn’t exist! Instead of focusing on following a perfect diet, consider what your individual needs are. Check out my previous blog on Mindful Eating to learn how to listen to your hunger cues and eat mindfully. 

And while you at it, check out my Mindful Eating Exercise - a useful tool from my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit - to help get you started!

When you honour your body by eating food you enjoy and savouring each bite, you are healing your relationship with food and with your body. So, are you ready to ditch dieting for good?!

Naming Reactive Emotions to Help Tame Them

Emotions can be intense, overwhelming and triggering. To be honest, they can be downright uncomfortable! So, when we’re overcome with emotions like anger, fear or sadness, it’s no wonder many of us turn to food for comfort. But emotional eating is only a temporary fix to escape from those uncomfortable emotions and it prevents us from learning how to handle our emotions.

While it may seem easier to turn to cookies and chips to console us of our intense emotions, it keeps us stuck in a vicious cycle of uncomfortable emotions and emotional eating. Instead, if we expand our emotional intelligence and learn how to deal with our emotions (instead of run from them) we can keep emotional eating at bay. Luckily, there are tools to help us learn how to deal with reactive emotions in a healthy way! One such practice is super simple – just by naming the emotion you’re feeling, helps to tame it.

 

Do you ever find that when you’re upset, you need to talk about it? You may re-hash the upsetting situation to a co-worker, your partner, or friend. Many of us like to call this “venting”. Well, when we’re venting about something that’s upsetting us, what we’re doing is putting our feelings into words. Researchers call this “affect labeling” which they believe helps manage negative emotional experiences. Studies have shown that affect labeling may diminish emotional reactivity in the brain. This means, by simply identifying and stating the negative emotion you’re experiencing, you can get some distance from it and as a result, you may not continue to feel it so intensely.

Practicing affect labeling requires you to practice mindfulness – you can only identify the emotion you’re feeling at that time by allowing yourself to take a pause, be present, and self-aware in that moment. If you can notice that you’re reacting to the situation at hand, and acknowledge and name the emotion that you’re experiencing – you’ve can actually disengage from the emotion itself. This disengagement helps to tame the emotion and you will no longer feel it as intensely. Instead of getting lost in a sea of emotions, you can identify the emotion which is the first step in handling it. Once you’ve paused and identified the emotion, perhaps you can connect deeper with why you are feeling this way. But regardless, the first step is to learn to pause and name that emotion.

 

Here’s a list of some intense/uncomfortable emotions:

ANXIOUS              FRUSTRATED               LONELY

    ASHAMED                FOOLISH               ABANDONED

   AFRAID                      HURT                    OFFENDED

   HUMILIATED               NERVOUS              VULNERABLE

HELPLESS               RESENTFUL               ISOLATED

EMBARRASSED          ANNOYED         SELF-CONSCIOUS

      SAD                   CONFUSED                 JEALOUS

       ANGRY                   BETRAYED             THREATENED

 

Instead of saying, “I’m upset”, are you able to say, “I’m feeling ______” and fill in the blank with one of these words?

It may take practice but by getting specific, it will become easier over time to identify and label the emotion you are experiencing. Feel free to refer to this list or use an Emotions Word Bank online until you become familiar with their names and are able to label which emotion you are experience. With practice, you will become more mindful and emotionally intelligent which is key in managing emotional eating!

Remember that changing behaviour isn’t easy – you’ve coped with emotions in a certain way for a long time. Change comes with lots of practice! So, practice this affect labeling whenever you can. The true practice is becoming more mindful and aware of the emotions you’re experiencing. Once you are aware, it’s easy to name it. From there, you will have some distance to it and you’ll be better equipped to respond versus react.

In the coming days, when you find yourself experiencing intense emotions, pause before doing anything (like turning to food) and mindfully encourage yourself to attach words to your experience. This simple tool can make such a difference in handling your emotions in a healthy way!

 

For more tools, download my Free Emotional Eating toolkit

Why Your Busy Lifestyle Is Making Your Emotional Eating Worse

We live in a society where being busy is a badge of honour and associated with determination, success and popularity. It’s something most of us have adjusted to or at least accepted as a reality. And there are many reasons why we’re so busy - juggling careers, work, family, school and trying to have it all.  

Being busy for short periods of time is absolutely normal and won’t be detrimental to your health (in fact, there’s a sweet spot where a moderate amount of stress actually makes us more alert and enhances our performance!). But, when ‘busyness’ defines our entire lifestyle, it can cause more harm than good, especially when it comes to emotional eating.

Let’s look at how being busy affects our eating habits and emotional health.

Here’s what a constantly “busy” lifestyle leads to:

·         Mindless Eating

·         Eating on-the-go

·         No time for self-care

·         Lack of boundaries

·         Less quality time with loved ones

·         No time for self-reflection, being alone or processing your emotions

·          Ignoring symptoms and avoiding your problems

 

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? I know for years this is what my life looked like and even now, I sometimes struggle to slow down. It’s unrealistic and virtually impossible to say goodbye to deadlines, stress, and fast-paced living altogether, but let’s find a healthy balance!

Here are some things I suggest you try to incorporate and prioritize – so that even when your life is busy, you can make time for these things. When we prioritize our well-being, we are better equipped to manage stress and emotional eating.

 

1. Mindful Eating instead of Eating On-the-Go

Eating with mindfulness means being present, eating slowly and being fully aware during your entire experience with your food. The opposite of mindful eating is emotional eating. Think of a time you over-ate. Were you paying attention to and enjoying the scent, look and taste of the food in front of you? Or were you shoveling it in until you felt sick? Even if your life is fast-paced, slow down when you eat! This will help to prevent overeating and improve your relationship with food. Food is meant to be enjoyed – so slow down and savor it!
 

2. Prioritizing Self-Care instead of Putting Yourself Last

When we’re busy, self-care goes out the window. Who has time to read for pleasure, go for a walk, laugh with friends or focus on hobbies when you have a massive to-do list every day? But Self-Care is SO important for emotional eating and you NEED to make it a priority if you want to manage your emotional eating. Instead of putting yourself last (as we so often do), prioritize your well-being and make Self-Care mandatory in your routine. You’ll be grateful when you’ve taken a few minutes to slow down and give your body, or mind, what it needs. Even simple acts of self-care can bring us into the present moment and ease stress.
 

3. Setting Healthy Boundaries to Preserve Your Time and Energy

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin, exhausted or overwhelmed because you’ve said “yes” to someone (or something) when you should’ve said “no”?  Setting boundaries is very important for your well-being and should be a non-negotiable regardless of how busy you are. Healthy boundaries may include not checking your work email over the weekend, having a set bedtime, avoiding toxic people, and learning to say no. What healthy boundaries do you need to set to ensure you have time and energy for yourself?

 
4. Take Time to Self-Reflect Instead of Self-Sabotage

One reason why many people like to be busy is because it distracts them for the bad stuff going on in their life. Whether its avoiding uncomfortable feelings or trying to forget about a stressful life event, we may use our busy lifestyle to self-sabotage and prevent healing. Instead, we need to set time to sit with our feelings, process our emotions and digest life events. This is how we manage emotional eating – by taking time to self-reflect and sit with our feelings. Make sure you set aside time regularly to either journal, meditate upon or talk to someone you trust about things going on in your life. Processing and reflecting upon your feelings, instead of suppressing them, is vital for managing emotional eating.

 
While some people may take pride in being busy, ask yourself why you’re so busy and what you can do to change that. Do you need to set healthy boundaries? Do you need to slow down your eating and make time for self-care? What area of your life do you need to give more attention to?

Your emotional eating will continue to exist if you ignore the symptoms and distract yourself by being busy. To manage your emotional eating, let’s try something new – let’s slow down!
 

How Practicing Gratitude Can Heal Your Emotional Eating

The benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness towards other, and even have stronger immune systems. Research shows that simply keeping a gratitude journal and regularly jotting down what you’re thankful for can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.

If you struggle with emotional eating, practicing gratitude can be a powerful tool. Taking a few moments out of your day to be grateful brings you into the present moment, which reduces the risk of making mindless choices or habits like overeating. It also helps you take control of your mindset. Shifting your thoughts to what you are grateful for moves your focus to the good things, which can decrease stress and stop cycles of negative thinking which may be triggering your emotional eating.

Gratitude is starting to sound good, right? To start expressing more gratitude today, consider these practices:
 

1.  Start a Gratitude Journal

If writing isn’t something that excites you, start with just writing down one thing (in a simple sentence format) that you’re grateful for. Go back a week later and add another sentence. While this doesn’t seem like much effort, by the end of the year you’ll have 52 things you’ve written down that you’re grateful for! And by all means, keep writing if you think of more :)

 

2.  Write Someone a Letter

Don’t just focus on the things you are grateful for, but think about who you are thankful for and let them know! Write them a letter expressing your gratitude for all that they do for you or how they’ve made your life better. Why not brighten up someone else’s day while boosting your own mood?

 

3.  Make a Gratitude Jar
 
There’s power from writing something down and making it physical. Write down on a slip of paper what you’re grateful for and why. Put the slip of paper in a jar or other container and put it in a place where you’ll see it every day, like your kitchen. Add to it once a routinely. Seeing your gratitude jar with all your slips of gratitude in it is a great visual reminder of all the good things you have in your life. 

 

4.  Practice Gratitude Rituals

Some people say grace before a meal. This is an example of a gratitude ritual you can do daily to express your gratitude and thanks for what you have. Get creative and create a ritual that works for you and your family. Perhaps you want to go around the dinner table and say one thing you’re grateful for that day or make it part of your bedtime routine. Whatever it is, think of small ways you can express gratitude on a daily basis.

 

Gratitude is a powerful emotion that instantly washes away stress and tension. Allow your emotional eating to be healed by it. Whether it’s writing in a journal, expressing gratitude to others, or saying grace, start practicing gratitude today!

How to Show Yourself More Love

 

You’ve probably already heard that if you want to heal your emotional eating and have a healthy relationship with food and your body, you need to show yourself some love. But loving yourself is easier said than done. Where do you start? If you struggle with emotional eating or even body image, here are 4 ways that you can start showing yourself more love.

 

1. Ask for What You Need

Whether you’re feeling alone, unsupported or just simply overwhelmed, realize it’s okay to ask for help. If you need to carve out some alone time during your hectic week, pull back on some commitments or even take a mental health day from work, do what’s best for you. There is no shame is asking for help and setting boundaries for your own well-being. When you ask for what you need, you are showing your self some much needed love and respect.

 

2. Forgive Yourself

This is a big one. Often at the root of eating challenges is a desire to be better than you are. Maybe you want to weigh less or have a different body shape, be more attractive, more successful and be as flawless as possible! The truth is, you’re human. You’re going to have flaws and you’re going to make mistakes. By accepting this and forgiving yourself for all the imperfections, you are giving yourself permission to be you and let go of the impossible standard you are trying to achieve. Forgive yourself for any mistake you make and move on – this is how you show yourself love.

 

3. Prioritize the Things that are Important to You

Take a few minutes to think of all the things that are important to you and write them down. Your list may include family, friends, work, health, hobbies, spirituality, charity work and more. Now take a moment to evaluate if you are prioritizing what is important to you. Perhaps your friends are important to you, but you’ve been so busy with other things that you haven’t made time to call or get-together with your friends. Maybe you love to do arts and crafts but you haven’t made the time because of other commitments. When things get out of balance in our lives, we get more stressed and that can trigger emotional eating. By prioritizing all the things that are important to you, it is easier to achieve balance. When you make time for the things that are important to you, you’re showing yourself love and will feel happier and more fulfilled.
 

4. Practice Self-Care

Along with prioritizing the things that are important to you is practicing self-care on a regular basis. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed, it’s easy to neglect your own basic needs. Self-care plays a significant role in maintaining physical and emotional health. Self-care can be as simple as practicing proper hygiene to eating regularly, having a good sleep routine, to practicing meditation, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.

 

Loving yourself requires some inner work, and these steps can help get you there. If you find yourself struggling with these steps, remember that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s important to have a strong support system. Talking to a trusted friend or a professional therapist can help guide you in your efforts.

When you start to show yourself more love, you’ll be amazed at the power it has in healing your emotional eating, food and body challenges. 

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

The New Year's Resolution You Need to Make This Year

 

The new year is just around the corner, and while December brings a whirlwind of festivities and events, January is a time to slow down and set new intentions. One resolution I’d suggest you set for 2018 is to practice more self-care.

At the foundation of managing emotional eating is self-care. When we don’t practice self-care, we are more prone to stress, anxiety, overeating, binge eating, and having negative body image. In contrast, when we prioritize our well-being, it is easier to achieve balance in our lives and thus, manage emotional eating.

Research has shown that achieving big goals is accomplished by setting smaller, more-attainable goals. In other words, baby steps! Here are five small steps you can take this year towards better self-care:

 

1. Eliminate unnecessary stress

While living stress-free is not a realistic goal, you should aim to eliminate as much unnecessary stress as possible. To do this, you must first identify your stressors. What is draining your energy? Social media? People? Your lack of boundaries or inability to say “no”? Perhaps you need to part ways with the things or people adding to your stress. Don’t feel guilty for letting go of anything that no longer serves you. Simplify your life and you will feel a heavy weight be lifted off your shoulders!
 

2. Add in more pleasure

Make time to do the things that make you happy. You shouldn't feel guilty about making choices that cater to your happiness instead of someone else's. Invest in yourself and reduce the effects of stress by adding more pleasure into your life. Whether it’s arts and crafts, dancing, yoga, reading or traveling, make time for the activities that energize you and bring you joy.
 

3. Journal

Journaling is a powerful tool for emotional eating and well-being. Writing about stressful events, for example, helps you come to terms with them, thus reducing the impact of these stressors and the negative emotions they may trigger. Another benefit to journaling is the opportunity to express gratitude. According to a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, stopping to list what you're grateful for just once a week can help you feel more optimistic and better about life!
 

4. Nurture Healthy Relationships

Having social connections is important for our emotional well-being. Having healthy relationships provides us with love, support and confidence. To build strong relationships, you need to nurture them. Different friends can provide different things – laughter and fun, emotional support, intellectual stimulation, or even intimacy. Make it a priority to connect with close friends or family once a week – whether it’s a phone call, email, or date!
 

5. Mindful Eating

Slow down! When we eat too quickly and mindlessly, we tend to overeat. This is because our brain gets the signal too late (or not at all!) that we’re satisfied with our food. Set an intention to eat all your meals sitting down and distraction-free (no smartphone or TV). Take the opportunity to pay attention to what you’re eating – engage all 5 senses. When you slow down the eating process, you will feel more satisfied, prevent overeating and improve your digestion.

 

This year, put your health and happiness first with these 5 intentions! By practicing more self-care, you will be better equipped to manage stress and emotional eating. 

Want to learn more? Sign up for my FREE Emotional Eating Toolkit which will help you learn how much emotional eating is affecting you. 

An Emotional Eater’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

 

It’s that time of year when you are surrounded by family, friends and…FOOD! While the holidays are often an excuse for overindulgence, you can get through them without eating everything in sight. The key is to simply eat mindfully, not mindlessly. Easier said than done?

To navigate all those social gatherings coming up, here are some top tips for surviving the Holiday Season:

 

1.      Drink Water

Did you know that when you think you’re hungry, you may just be thirsty?! Ensure you are fully hydrated by drinking water throughout the day and when you’re out, to avoid overeating caused by thirst. 

It’s also important to stay hydrated when consuming alcohol. If you do drink, there’s no need to avoid alcohol completely, but keep in mind that it does dehydrate you. That’s why it’s a good idea to drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages.

 

2.      Practice Mindful Eating

End-of-year stress and holiday desserts can get the better of our cravings. While you don’t need to avoid the sweets altogether, just practice mindfulness to manage overeating. The key to mindful eating is awareness. Savour each bite, take your time (chew slowly) and fully enjoy the taste of what you’re eating! Between bites, put your fork down while you chew. This gives your body enough time to send signals to your brain that you are satisfied.

 

3.      Take Time for Self-Care

The holidays can be stressful so make sure you take some time for yourself. Whether it’s having some quiet time by yourself or with a loved one, carve some time to relax, rejuvenate and refresh! Now is the perfect time of year to take a hot bubble bath, enjoy a cup of tea, or curl up on your couch with a good book.

Also consider making time for some physical activity as a form of self-care! Whether it’s going for a walk by yourself, or planning a fun family outing like skating, getting some physical activity may be just what your body needs during the holidays. Just remember to choose something you’ll enjoy for optimal benefits.

 

4.      Eat Regular Portions

Whatever you do, don’t tell yourself that this is a “cheat day” and you’ll start a diet tomorrow. That type of yo-yo dieting can have detrimental effects on your health and keeps you in a vicious cycle of emotional eating. Instead, take regular portions of the food you want to eat. You don’t need to fill up your plate with everything in sight – but you don’t need to avoid everything either. Try to listen to your body - serve yourself a regular portion and then go back for more if you’re still hungry.

 

The holidays should be a time to be merry, not something you dread. By following these tips – practicing self care and mindful eating – you can enjoy the holiday season, be festive, and still manage your emotional eating!

 

How To Manage Emotional Eating When You're Feeling Down

 

Like any emotion, we’ve all experienced sad feelings. For some, feelings of sadness may come and go briefly, while for others, they may be persistent and overwhelming due to unexpected changes in your life. While it’s absolutely normal to feel sad at times, for emotional eaters, this may trigger uncontrollable binges and overeating. Learning how to deal with your sad feelings is crucial for managing emotional eating.

How Can You Deal with Sad Feelings?

Sad feelings don't have to trigger out-of-control eating. To manage emotional eating, we need to deal with our sad feelings in a healthy way.

Here are some ways to experience normal sadness so that it doesn’t lead to emotional eating:
 

1.   Allow yourself to be sad

Denying your feelings and trying to bury them is what drives you to emotionally eat in the first place. Instead, allow yourself to be sad (or experience whatever emotion you are feeling). Cry if you feel like it. Something that works for me is repeating to myself, “It’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to feel this way” repeatedly. This allows me to sit with my feelings and accept them instead of pushing them away.
 

2.   Take time to think about your feelings and writing them down

Why are you feeling sad? Have you experienced a loss or painful experience? Did someone hurt you through their actions or words? Are there other words to describe what you are feeling? Often feeling sad could be better expressed with specific words such as feeling frustrated, embarrassed, lonely or disappointed. Exploring your feelings, especially in writing, can help you process the sadness and help you feel better.
 

3.   Get support

Call a close friend or family member – someone you trust. Expressing your feelings to others can help you process them. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, consider speaking with a therapist. Not only will they listen, but they can help you fully understand and process your feelings while giving you tools to manage your emotions on your own.
 

4.   Practice Self-Care

Be sure to be kind to yourself. Be gentle and loving with your thoughts and actions. Care for yourself with anything that feels good – such as a hot bath, taking a nap, or going for a walk. Self-care could also be letting yourself laugh by watching a funny movie or socializing with friends. Even when you’re feeling sad, be sure to make time for yourself and take care of yourself however you see fit – because you deserve it!
 

While sadness is a feeling we all try to avoid, it’s inevitable that we will feel it now and then. The silver lining is that feeling sad can signal the need for a change in your life such as connecting more with others, healing a relationship, or dealing with a past trauma. This can be stressful and a difficult journey, but it is absolutely necessary for growth. If you're sad because you need to change something in your life, think about the steps you can take to make your life more enjoyable!

When we accept and allow ourselves to feel sad and process these feelings, we won’t be triggered to emotionally eat. When we deal with our feelings in a healthy way, we can enjoy a normal relationship with food – free from emotional eating.

 

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Six Simple Steps to Self-Acceptance

Self-care is one of the foundations for healing emotional eating. But if you struggle with self-acceptance and self-love, you may find practicing self-care challenging. When you learn to accept yourself fully, you will find self-care comes much more naturally and instinctively. If you struggle with body image and self-esteem, self-acceptance is necessary to grow and heal.

Below are Six Simple Steps to Self-Acceptance so that you can learn to love yourself and as a result, heal your eating challenges.   
 

1.  Awareness

If you are constantly worried about your weight, your appearance, and your eating habits, you are distracted from living your life to the fullest. Instead of wasting your energy of worrying about food, eating, and criticizing yourself, that energy could be put towards relationships, accomplishments, and passions. Pay attention to where your energy is being spent and if it’s too focused on food, eating and weight, consider how you can redistribute your energy. Are there other interests and passions that are being ignored?
 

2.  Accept Yourself as You Are Right Now

It might be very challenging for you to accept yourself as you are right now. Individuals who struggle with their body image and self-esteem may be comparing themselves to others, wishing for perfection, and constantly criticizing themselves. If this sounds like you, consider how you would treat and speak to a child or good friend. Chances are, you’d be gentle, kind and understanding. When you change your perspective, you may realize how harshly you’ve been treating yourself!
 

3.  Really Get to Know Yourself

In order to accept yourself fully, you need to know who you are! Remember that you are more than just a body. At the core, what are your values? What physical and non-physical attributes do you like about yourself? What do you like to do? What are you good at and what you do want to be good at? Taking the time to fully know and understand yourself brings you one step closer to loving and accepting yourself!
 

4.  Listen to Your Body

Your body in an amazing machine that does everything from regeneration, growth, and repair. Its actually sending you signals all the time whether relating to hunger, body temperature, fatigue or pain. Take some time to pay attention to these cues. Do you pay attention when you get hungry? What about when you start to feel full? Listening to your body is a large component to having a healthy relationship with your body and your self.
 

5.  Nurture Your Body

Practice giving your body what it wants and needs. Whether its getting your hair or nails done, getting a massage, buying yourself a new outfit, moving more or getting more rest, treat yourself with care. When you honour your needs by taking care of your body, you show yourself and the world that you deserve love and care.
 

6.  Don’t Hold Back

Instead of putting your life on hold until you reach an arbitrary goal like losing weight, remind yourself that this is your life and you’re here to live it fully! This means making life choices that bring you happiness and joy. Is there any area you’ve been holding back? Whether it’s in a relationship, your career, or other personal endeavours, don’t hold back. Be fearless in your pursuit for living a vibrant life that you want and deserve!

 

Don’t waste your time and energy being worried about your weight, your appearance, and your eating habits. Instead, live life to the fullest! Accept yourself by learning who you are, what you want and where your energy is better spent. Really listen to your body and nurture it by giving it what it wants and needs.

When you practice self love, care and acceptance, you can heal your emotional eating and enjoy your life.

 

Mindfulness Meditation For Emotional Eating

 

We always hear how great meditation is for us and it has become a popular method to manage stress and anxiety. There are many different types of meditation - one that I have seen to be very beneficial for emotional eating is mindfulness meditation.  
 
Mindfulness meditation is a type of meditation that helps you learn a simple thing: to pay attention and to be present. This type of meditation has been shown to be effective for helping with anxiety and depression and involves several different types of practices. Techniques that you can practice include deep breathing, body scan, walking meditation, and mindful eating.

 

How can it help emotional eating?

Emotional eaters turn to food for comfort – often in an attempt to escape uncomfortable or intense feelings. The practice of mindfulness meditation gives us the opportunity to become more present with ourselves just as we are. It means paying attention to our thoughts, feelings and sensations – without judging or rejecting anything. Instead of struggling to get away from experiences or feelings we find difficult or uncomfortable, we practice being able to be with them. And when we learn to sit with our feelings, we can manage our emotions and lessen our need to use food for comfort.

Sounds good, right? If you’re ready to give it a try, keep reading for some Mindfulness Meditation Techniques that you can start practicing right away!

 

Mindfulness Meditation Techniques:
 

1.      Deep Breathing

One of the most basic mindfulness meditations is a breathing meditation. This technique is to simply focus your attention on your breath, the inhale and exhale. Techniques can differ – either by counting your breaths or by simply observing each breath without trying to adjust it. If it’s the latter, you can focus on the rise and fall of your chest or the sensation through your nostrils. You may find that your mind wanders, distracted by thoughts or bodily sensations. That’s okay. Just notice that this is happening and gently bring your attention back to your breath.

Try a short breathing exercise in my Free Emotional Eating Quiz.
 

2.     Body Scan

Body Scan Meditation is an exercise that guides you to focus your attention on different parts of your body – from head to toes! This body scan provides an opportunity for you to experience your body as it is, without judging or trying to change it. It creates a mindful awareness of your physical sensations and helps to relieve tension you may not have been aware of.  UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center has provided a free Body Scan Meditation that you can find here.
 

3.      Walking Meditation

This is a mindfulness practice which involves focusing closely on the physical experience of walking and paying attention to the specific components of each step. Walking meditation can help increase awareness of our physical sensations as well as our surroundings, which helps to bring us into the present moment. By paying attention to the process of walking, we can appreciate and enjoy what our body does for us. This awareness and appreciation – created by any mindfulness practice—can help us gain a greater sense of control over our thoughts, feelings, and actions, allowing us to better manage negative thoughts or emotions.
 

4.     Mindful Eating

When mindfulness is applied to eating, it can help you recognize your patterns and behaviors, while bringing attention to bodily cues associated with hunger and fullness. This is key for preventing overeating and managing emotional eating.

Sign up for my Free Emotional Eating Toolkit for a mindful eating exercise.

You can also check out my previous blog all about Mindful Eating here.

 

If you struggle with emotional eating, Mindfulness Meditation is a practice that can help! If there is only one technique you want to work on, start with your breath. When you notice that you have gotten so caught up in thoughts that you have forgotten where you are and end up overeating or binge eating, gently bring yourself back to your breath. This will help bring you back to the present moment.

And remember that the goal is to be mindful of whatever is happening, without judging yourself – even when you are experiencing intense, overwhelming feelings. When you are able to be present with your thoughts and feelings, you can finally free yourself from emotional eating for good!