I think one of the most difficult things to admit is that you are an emotional eater. It’s not easy to admit it in this society, either – we’re told we “just need to use will power” and made to feel dysfunctional if we can’t use it/don’t use it. It’s not that I’m not using this thing that I have… it’s that I don’t have this thing that I’ve never used before. If you don’t have any experience in saying “no,” how do you build it up?
To me, the first step is always to get the stuff out of the house. Alcoholics don’t keep liquor in the house, and they’re not binge drinking on water. Food addicts/emotional eaters (they’re one in the same) shouldn’t keep our objects of desire in the house either, and we certainly aren’t out here binging on brussels sprouts.
I mean, you might if you cook ’em the way I do… but I’m sayin’. You’re probably not.
But after we take the first step of clearing out the house, then what happens? What do you do to manage the urge? While I’ve always said it’s most important to try to address what’s going on head-on, sometimes you have to get yourself in the right state of mind for that. Here are my five suggestions for things you can do with your emotions instead of eat them (Because, really, let’s face it… you don’t want to eat your emotions. They taste bad.) :
1) Meditate. Literally, sit on your floor (I wouldn’t recommend the bed or any other place where you frequently experience anxiety) bend your legs and make the soles of your feet touch, wrap your hands around your feet and breathe. You don’t need to put your hands in any fancy pose above your head or anything to begin with – though there is a negligible “energy” issue there, one needn’t worry about that as a beginner. Sit on the floor, hold your feet, breathe deeply, and think about what is stressing you. A big part of the success I’ve experienced thus far has been developing my ability to be more of a problem solver – I spend less time letting things upset me and more time trying to address things head on before they get to the point where I can feel the anxiety in my chest. And, sometimes, that requires sitting on the floor and getting your “om” on.
2) Bath time. I’m serious. Run the nice, hot bubble bath, light a candle and get nekkid. Immediately. You might even wanna get nekkid first. It’s more likely to keep you from leaving to go to the kitchen to binge. I don’t know about you, but I have negative interest in being nekkid in my kitchen.
Got kids? Nap time. Mommy needs an hour to herself. Got work? I’m pretty sure it’s not more important than your sanity, and a piece of fruit can easily help keep you awake for the additional hour you might miss. It’s important that you do what you can to preserve your mental well being, as well as develop new habits that counter your old one of binging.
Put on some Tony! Toni! Tone! (It is, in fact, the unofficial Tony! Toni! Tone! appreciation day, after all.), dim the lights, wrap a towel around your head spa-style and dive right in. Even if you’re only giving yourself 15 minutes before the boss/husband/the kids bug you, that’s still fifteen minutes devoted to keeping you from eating emotionally.
3) Read a book. Take a deep breath, and turn right to the page before the good part of your favorite book. No matter how scary, scandalous, kinky, truebloody or nerdy it might be, it’s bound to pull you in to the point where you forget about how much you wanted that entire bag of verona cookies.
Oh, no one else has done the whole bag before? Just me? Okay. I’ll own up to it. But books help. A lot.
4) Take up a hobby. And if you don’t have one? Take up a class. Knitting, sewing (yes, I have my sewing machine), painting, sculpting, sketching, poling…anything will be better than sabotaging your efforts to avoid eating emotionally. Hell, before I moved to this lunchbox apartment, I had my pole in the middle of my house and whenever I got frustrated, I took a spin on it. Didn’t even require a second spin… it just made me laugh that I was on a pole. In my living room. More often than not, it helped to put me in the right frame of mind to help me solve my problem.
5) Lift something heavy. Not entirely in the “I pick things up and put them down” type of situation, but yes. Pick things up and put them down. One of the best ways to channel anxiety into something positive for your body is to use it to challenge yourself. Go workout. Put on a fitness DVD. Go for a run. Go to the gym. Drop and give me $20…er… I mean, drop and give me twenty! Push-ups, tabatas workouts, start shadow boxing.. something. You got random anxiety? Don’t eat it up, burn it off.
How are you managing your emotions?
Thanks for the 5 things u could do w/ur emotions instead of eat them. I am going to try them all especially the meditation. keep them coming!
I was about to say don’t meditate in bed, i did that one time and i was in a coma in like 5 mins, relaxed but sleep before i finished my CD haha.
5 practical coping mechanisms? BOOKMARKED!
I am so glad you posted this!! I never recognized my emotional eating until recently when I found myself stressed out and eating everything because I didnt have anyone to talk the issues out with. Its amazing how this can just sneak up on you. Thanks Lady! I will be trying all of these ASAP! 🙂
Thank you. I so needed this list. Now, what is the website for purchasing a pole?
Crocheting and Knitting has been helping me. I get so caught up in counting stitches or the flow of it that I don’t go snack on food out of boredom.
I’m still a little skeptical. My stress stems from feeling like I don’t have enough time and energy to complete my essays. I’m a grad student; thus, I’m required to do a lot of writing. Problem is…I’m a slow writing and researcher. Thus, I don’t make time to meditate. I probably would worry the whole time about those pages and pages that I’m neglecting. But, perhaps I will pick up meditation once again, maybe start small (1-5mins). It helped me when I was in AmeriCorps.
I am a journal writer; that’s how I do all my problem strategizing, and I’ve found it helps me de-stress too, because I feel more empowered about whatever it was I was nervous about! Lately though, and as crazy as this may sound, I’ve found myself getting into the habit of writing LISTS as well–lists of goals, spending plans (since a lot of my anxiety is about money), tasks, etc. That has REALLY helped me feel better about situations as well. I mean don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with emotional eating at times, and actually go there every now and then, but there IS something stress-relieving about being able to check off those items on those lists when they get accomplished!
I started doing yoga again, as I posted on another blog post of yours. Just thought I’d leave a comment here too, since I said I was skeptical. The yoga has been helpful and enjoyable. Did 3-5mins of yoga at my practicum (internship) today.
DANCE! Old school is the best. Music changes your emotional state. Shake that Booty,
I discovered this website yesterday and I am in love with it!!! I get very motivated and encouraged by coming on here and reading the various topics. This one right here definitely speaks volumes to me, an emotional eater!….You can believe that I will keep these suggestions in mind and use them because I am sooooo tired of feeling out of control of my eating…..Thanks!!!
So glad to see this. i wrote these suggestions down and then added a few more of my own. will be successfully incorporating this to make it one of my MANY new good habits!
Just want to say Erica, thank you so much for creating this. I’m sure you did this for yourself, but like so many others, this has truly been an inspiration for me on my lifelong pursuit of optimal healthy living!
Whoops! Spelled your name wrong: “Thank you Erika!”
Exercising helps too. Especially getting frustration out. And u work harder without even knowing it.
I really needed this. Thank you for this information and please keep it coming!
Thanks for posting helpful tips regarding emotional eating.
I am in love with this blog!!!! So inspiring!
Great post. Another fun activity. Jigsaw puzzles. They can be addictive yet relaxing while keeping your hands busy with something other than bringing food into your mouth:)
I think all these suggestions are great. The only thing i would add is that meditating on the problem, is a different thing from meditation. the goal of traditional meditation (often used to relieve stress) is to do your best to clear your mind, focus on the in and out breath, and how your body feels in the present moment. The hope is to let worry thoughts “go” without judgement. Meditation is thought to be a time you set aside to focus on the present moment, not your worries which is actually something in the past or the future…
Writing helps a lot. I know I’m in a bad place if I don’t write because it means that I’m suppressing my emotions. Instead of having a separate journal for food, I’ve now combined my personal journal with my food diary because how I’m dealing with life impacts my food consumption (well, I’m getting that under control, 18lbs down, yay!). It’s really been helpful. Or sometimes, if I’m really restless and I’ve exercised already, I’ll take a brisk walk for about an hour or more. I get to think, enjoy the outdoors, discover something new about my neighborhood, feel the way my body moves and get some vitamin D!
I’m also down for hobbies- reading, crochet, making body butters and scrubs, jewelry making.
I like to eat. I also like to read, write, sew, sketch, chat, chill, jog, and watch TV. When I feel the urge to take out my emotions on a burger, I do the other things that make me feel good.
Comments are closed.