A Guest Post by Emotional Eating Coach, Natalie Forsythe
Last time I wrote to you all, we looked at the biological and neurological pieces of emotional eating. We looked at how stress literally stimulates us to crave sugar and fat and what to do about it. We learned about the wave of our emotions, and how to ride them. If you missed it, search your inbox and read up!
Today we are going to explore the way that our negative thoughts launch us into emotional eating, and how to stop it. The technique here is really hot, because if you do it enough, not only will you stop your negative thoughts, but you will actually start doing more of the actions that you want to be doing in your life. Going from negativity to life fulfillment. Yes please! We will also look at how eating while distracted ends up being one of the biggest culprits of emotional eating, even though we often have no awareness that we are doing it. I will give you the antidote to this kind of emotional eating.
Our Negative Thoughts: The Downward Spiral of Doom
So often, the reason that people eat emotionally is because they are experiencing negative thoughts and they want to stop experiencing them. This could be anxious thoughts, bored thoughts, guilty thoughts. Really, it can be anything that is triggering and unsupportive. This is totally understandable. Food is such an easy go-to for a change in our experience. It is the quick fix. But the problem is that the experience of eating only lasts so long, and then we are back to our negative thoughts again. I call this the Downward Spiral of Doom.
Alright, so, how do you get out of the Downward Spiral of Doom of your thoughts? Just stop feeling anxious. It’s as easy as that…. Just kidding. I know this is tricky, which is why I have a super simple and powerful technique to share with you to start retraining your brain and emotional experience.
My Big Tip on Getting Out of the Downward Spiral of Doom:
The Redirect Game.
So, the game here is to start to notice every time you have a thought that anxious (or really any other negative thought that you would rather not have.) It is at this moment of negative self-thought, that you implement a redirect phrase. It can be super simple: “There that mind goes again.” Or it can tap into what you are committing to: “I choose positivity.” Or it can be short and sweet: “Goodbye Anxiety!” It can be whatever resonates with you. It is simply the thought that helps your mind to change gears. It’s like pushing in the clutch before you can shift into a higher speed.
Then, and this is where it actually becomes a game, you redirect your thoughts onto something constructive that you actually care about. Think about something that you actually want to cultivate more of in your life.
An example from my own life: I would redirect myself to think about what a new creative project I would like to do in my garden. Before I new it, I was off fantasizing about the new lattice I wanted to build for my sweet peas.
To figure out what you want to redirect to, look in these places in your life:
Anywhere that you notice yourself being intrigued and engaged. It works best if there is some kind of creativity or action that can come out of your thought.
Activities that you enjoy doing.
Musicians or artists that inspire you.
Philosophical or technical questions that intrigue you.
Friends or family members you enjoy being with.
Alright, to summarize The Redirect Game, in its simplest of forms.
Notice the negative thought.
Say your redirect phrase.
Start thinking about something that you want to create more of in your life.
Notice how you feel now that you are focusing on what you care about.
Repeat, as often as necessary, which will be REALLY often in the beginning.
What is really awesome about this game is that the more often you play the game, the more immediately you will automatically redirect yourself to what you care about. Imagine if an anxious thought actually could help you to go outside and pick up the garden shovel!?! Engage with something that you love, instead of focusing on something that upsets you. What a change in your life experience that would be!
The Hidden Side of Emotional Eating: Distracted Eating
Distracted eating (eating while doing something else) is the kind of emotional eating that we often don’t associate with our emotions. We don’t even know we are doing it. How many times have you sat down in front of a show, the computer or a book while eating and realized that food is gone and you don’t even really remember eating it?
Distracted eating helps us to check out from whatever life is throwing at us and it helps to create a feeling of numbness inside of us. Whether or not we realize we are doing it, many of us eat in order to get to this numb place. Distracted eating is usually coming from the desire to not feel our feelings, even if this desire is super subconscious.
Life is so intense, and the whole bag of Kettle Chips really helps us to not be able to feel all the craziness. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If this is one of many tools in our tool box, I give it my stamp of approval. You know, if your boss is driving you crazy and tonight all you want to do is disappear into a sea of mac and cheese, alright. When this becomes a problem is when it is the only tool, or even the most frequent tool you are using.
One of the realities of distracted eating is that people end up eating A LOT more than they would if they were eating mindfully. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who eat while distracted end up eating more not only during that meal but also during future meals. Conversely, people who pay attention to the eating process during a meal end up eating less even in later meals. When we are mindful, we pay attention to the cues of hunger, fullness and satisfaction.
My Two Big Tips on Distracted Eating:
Decide before you start eating if you are going to eat in a distracted way or in a mindful way. Make this a conscious choice.
1) If you choose to eat while doing something else, like watching TV, first and foremost, acknowledge that that is what you are choosing to do. You are choosing to eat in a distracted way. A little bit of awareness at the beginning of a distracted eating session can actually really shift the whole experience. Secondly, go ahead and put a big old handful of the chips into a bowl, and distractedly eat them! Revel in eating in a distracted way, but with a finite resource of food. That way, if you want more, you have to actively choose to get up and go get more. Yet again, this brings another opportunity for more mindfulness.
2) If you choose to eat mindfully, I offer that you make a ritual or routine out of it. Prepare your food. Put it on a plate. Sit down and look at the food, and think about all the different places it came from, all the people that helped to grow it. Give gratitude to those people and places. Then, pick up your plate and smell what is there, really look at it. Use all of your other senses before you actually taste. Then, when you do put the food in your mouth, notice the flavors, the textures. Chew consciously. Make an effort to focus your attention on what you are eating, instead of on the thoughts you are having (this can be hidden distracted eating. When you are done eating, notice what your body feels like. How full are you? How satisfied are you? When you eat in this way, the whole experience becomes more rich and more fulfilling. Enjoy!
I hope that this information and tips have been really helpful to you. It is my mission in life to support people who are struggling with their relationship with food to break free and live the life they have been so hungry for all along. If you know that you are ready to break free, it would be my honor to offer you a Free “Stop the Food Crazies” Discovery Session ($120 value.) During this session, I will find out about your issues with food and then offer you a few tailor made suggestions that you can put into practice immediately, and then if the conversation feels aligned, we will explore what it looks like to work with me. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, click through this link and fill out the 30 second form (http://natalieforsythe.com/complimentary-food-freedom-consultation-application) and I will get back to you to schedule this free session.
I work with people one-on-one as well as in groups. My next group is starting up in the third week of June, so if you are interested in finding freedom from old crazy food habits, and know that you like to work in a group, be sure to request a Discovery Session, so that I can fill you in on the exciting details of the Food Freedom Coaching Group.
Also, if you don’t feel like you need personal support, but want some more information, I have a 6 part email series called “How to Not Eat the Whole Bag of Chips in One Sitting.” It is a funny series that goes deep into the reasons why we humans struggle with food, and gives 5 techniques that you can immediately implement to help you create a new relationship with food. If you would like to receive this series, go to my website www.natalieforsythe.com and pop your email into the box on the right hand side, and I will have my internet elves send you the series.
Natalie Forsythe is a certified life coach specializing in emotional eating. Having struggled in the past with an eating disorder in the past, she now coaches her clients to feel more relaxed around food and put all that time and energy into what they actually care about. You can learn more about Natalie and her work at www.NatalieForsythe.com.