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
1. Meal Planning
2. Meal Prepping
3. Eat without Your Electronics
4. Set a Timer
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:
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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?
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?!
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
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!
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!
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 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
· 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’?
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.
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.
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. =)
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:
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.