Your emotions affect every cell in your body. Mind and body, mental and physical, are intertwined.
Does this sound familiar?
You’re feeling stressed or angry and decide to enjoy junk food or dessert to improve your mood.
You’re feeling bored and decide to pass the time by snacking on a bag of chips and before you know it, half the bag is gone!
If these situations do sound familiar, you are not alone. I have a long history of using comfort foods to lift my spirits when I’m feeling down.
The tendency to control my mood with food was a habit that I developed as a teenager that spilled over into adulthood. I had resolved my problems with food so much that I was pretty much on auto-pilot. I didn’t think about what I was doing, I just did it. Can you identify?
Thankfully, with God’s help, I was able to eventually develop new habits by making myself aware of what I was doing. I found a way to be more conscious of my decisions and my life changed for the better. Not only did I eat healthier, but I was more in control of my feelings overall and that made me a better me.
Conquering Emotional Eating
If you battle emotional eating too, try this exercise.
Keep a journal of your food choices and emotions for one week. During this week, you don’t have to change what you eat. Your only assignment is to ask yourself two questions every time you eat: “Am I truly hungry?” and “Am I eating to soothe my emotions?” It is important that you answer these questions honestly. Being true to you is the only way you can move forward.
After you have completed the exercise, take a look at your food choices over the course of the week. How often did you eat when you weren’t hungry? What type of emotions were you feeling at the time? Is there a pattern where a certain emotion triggers a desire for a particular food? Were your comfort foods healthy foods or did they tend to be high in fat, sugar, and calories?
As you analyze your food journal, you will learn the answer to these questions and more. Now that you are aware of how your mood affects your eating habits, it’s time to come up with a plan of action for when (not if) these feelings resurface. What will you do instead of eating? Don’t rush through this exercise; give it some serious thought. The only way to overcome unhealthy habits is to replace them with healthy ones. Be sure to put your plan in writing so that you can refer to it when needed.
Here are some of my go-to strategies:
- When I’m tempted to eat to fill an emotional void, I call a friend or distract myself with a household project.
- When someone says or does something that makes me upset, I pray about my attitude then talk it through with them rather than hold in.
- When the stresses of running a business seem like too much, I take a walk or workout to relieve my stress.
Despite this progress, there are still times where I’m tempted to resort to emotional eating. And yes, occasionally I give in. In those times, I remind myself that perfection is not the goal, progress is. The same is true for you.
Aim to have your good days outweigh your bad days and you will still be ahead of the game.
Tamara “Coach Tam” Jackson
Chief Visionary Officer
265 Point Total Fitness