During difficult times, you may find yourself reaching for food to help soothe the uncomfortable feelings. While eating may provide a temporary distraction, eating isn’t the most effective way to deal with emotions.
Food is great for fueling us & satisfying hunger, but it’s not the best emotional regulator. Food won’t “fix” our feelings, so we want to have other tools in our coping toolbox.
Learning to feel your feelings and discovering healthy & helpful ways to navigate emotions will lessen your need to eat your feelings.
Try these three steps the next time you find yourself turning to food when you aren’t hungry:
1. Pause. Create some space between impulse (urge to eat) and action (reach for food). Give yourself an opportunity to understand what’s beneath the desire to eat.
2. Ask: What am really I hungry for? (Ie: comfort)
3. Choose how you will respond. I like to have my clients create a “happy list” – a list of non-food activities that can comfort you, entertain you and bring you joy. Here are some examples: • Call a friend • Journal • Mediate • Go for a walk • Read a book • Listen to music • Take a bath • Paint • Watch a funny movie, etc.
Uncomfortable emotions are an unavoidable part of life, but there is power is in giving yourself the opportunity to make a conscious choice rather than letting the emotions sweep you away.
When trying to get healthier or improve an area of our lives, we tend to focus on our actions first. We exert will power to change our behaviors, but then wonder why we can’t stay consistent and why we “self-sabotage.”
I find that most of my clients know what to do to get healthier, but they struggle with consistent execution. I’ve been coaching for 10 years and have noticed a common pattern among nearly all my clients: your thoughts make or break the execution of your goals. So how do we get our thoughts to support us in the pursuit of our goals?
1. Define your WHY.
Why do you want to get healthier? What is your internal motivator? I recommend that your “why” be based on something deeply personal and meaningful to you, such as “I want to run a marathon” or “I want to be healthy for my kids,” rather than an external motivator (ie: what other people think of you). External motivation is often short-lived and unfulfilling, but meaningful internal motivation will fuel you as you work towards your goals.
2. Let your WHY guide your thoughts.
There is a big difference between the thought:” Ugh, I have to exercise today” and “I’m choosing to exercise today because I want to keep my body healthy and active.” The first thought discourages you and the second thought supports your efforts. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to have a constant cheerleader in my head rather than a negative Nancy. Keep your thoughts in check and make sure they’re aligned with your WHY.
3. Take consistent ACTION (despite what you feel). If we only did the things we felt like doing, we’d all be in trouble. Motivation fluctuates and you’re not always going to feel like putting in the effort. Take action towards your goals despite how you feel. You’ve made a commitment to yourself, and commitments should be kept. Remind yourself of your WHY and go out and get the job done!
Choose thoughts that empower you > Take daily action towards your goals > Those consistent actions will turn into habits > Your habits shape your life.