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?