I have more than one reason for sharing this today. First, I want it to be known that just because I am Beachbody Coach and a huge advocate for health and fitness, and practice the lifestyle I teach, I struggle too and want to be an open book. Second, I hope that if you are reading this and you also battle emotional eating, that it will inspire you that you can overcome it and still meet the goals of your weight loss journey. Lastly, if you are reading this because someone you love battles emotional eating, I hope that it can shed some light on what they may be feeling.
Looking back, I think that I have always battled emotional eating, but I wasn’t aware of it until more recently. At the beginning of January, we decided to participate in a 21 Day Daniel Fast with our church that we attend. I knew I was struggling with my eating habits and had begun to fall off track, so I prayed that this partial fast would help me get my act together. My husband decided to join me and we are currently on day 18. If you have never heard of this before, it is a partial fast where you eliminate any leavened breads, sugar, coffee, animal products – basically you eliminate everything but fruits and vegetables. My senses have been heightened to my cravings since I cannot have my comfort foods, and I am recognizing more and more how much of a struggle I have with emotional eating.
Things I have realized:
· I am addicted to certain foods/drinks because of how they make me FEEL. Example: my decaf coffee makes me feel cozy and relaxed (emotional eating red flag #1)
· I find myself eating mindlessly when I am BORED. Especially at night when I sometimes find myself wanting to eat everything in sight. (emotional eating red flag #2)
· I frequently find myself feeling guilty after mindlessly eating, because I have recognized that I really wasn’t hungry to begin with. (emotional eating red flag #3)
· I have certain “trigger” foods (CARBS), that I have a terrible time putting down even when I am full. These trigger foods are all foods that I am addicted to for feelings of comfort. Example: chips or bread at a restaurant (emotional eating red flag #4)
According to WebMD, a way to help determine if you are physically hungry or emotionally hungry is if you are focused on one particular food. For example, after a really stressful day at the office, I CRAVE carbs – typically things like chips, bread, pizza and fried foods – things that I don’t eat very often. And what happens if I cannot get one of these comfort foods when I am having this feeling? I get UPSET. Hello? That is not good.
Also according to WebMD, what you reach for to satisfy an emotion depends on the emotion. For me personally, I crave carbs and sugar when I am having any type of emotional eating episode. But in this article I read, it says happy people tend to be drawn more towards pizza or steak, while someone in a sad mood might reach for ice cream and cookies. I rarely want ice cream or cookies, so I guess that means I am happy. 😀
If you have been following me very long, you know that I have my own weight loss story that I share. In the past year, I lost a little over 30 pounds. You might be asking yourself, “How did she do so well if she battles emotional eating, and how can I do it too?” Well, first I will tell you that my results could have been much better. I cleaned up my eating dramatically, but I still could have done better sticking with the meal plans, so I could have had better results. However, in my opinion I did wonderfully and I am so much happier now. I want to share with you a few ways that I still lost weight while battling emotional eating.
· I got in an accountability group. I host these on Facebook if you ever want to hop into one. Having others also being conscious of what I was doing really helped me, and still does!
· I started exercising at home and replacing one meal a day with Shakeology. This just kept me more consistent and getting my workouts in 5-6 days a week was obviously a big reason for my weight loss. Shakeology helps with my cravings.
· While I still battle nighttime episodes where I want to eat every carb in sight, I began reaching for healthier options. I shouldn’t eat after dinner at all, but hey, it was an improvement.
· I did not let one episode of emotional eating derail me – I kept going the next meal with what I knew I needed to be doing to continue losing weight.
· I made sure that I ALWAYS have snacks on hand. Every single day I go to work with breakfast, 2 snacks and lunch. This way, the constant array of fatty treats that come into the office don’t tempt me as much. Example: the other day, someone brought in some amazing looking donuts. My need for comfort kicked in, but I kicked it back by eating my snack of strawberries instead.