Here’s another great question from around the campfire…
Tribe-member Alison Civil asks:
“How do I stop myself from eating the crap when I really want to eat it? Eg, the habitual emotional eating.
I really really want it and don’t stop to think about my long term goals, I just want the crap NOW!”
Alison, this is a great question and one that I think a LOT of our tribe-members will relate to very well. I think the best answer I could give you to this comes in several parts, so please bear with me while I try to lay out the the best possible MAP to keep you on the path toward your goals, ok?
The first thing to recognise is that when you say ‘emotional eating’, you’re actually referring to reactive eating. You know this, I’m sure, but what most people don’t realise is that reactive eating is simply eating in response to threats that have shown up across the course of your day. (click to tweet this to your friends)
The more threats, the more reactive you become and this is because the brain is wired to REACT to those things it perceives as threat because figuring out RESPONSES takes too long.
Now, the term ‘threat’ may throw you off a little but what we’re talking about is anything and everything that causes you uncertainty, doubt, stress, anxiety, fear, worry, concern etc. Your brain deals with them all the same and at a certain point… POW! The threat reaction goes off.
This leads us to the second thing, the fact that when the threat reaction goes off, the body tends to crave what you call ‘crap’ but what, in essence, is simply sugar-based, sweet foods.
Because ever since you were a baby, whenever you felt fear, upset or in need of comfort you were given sweet milk (either breast or bottle), then later were given sweets, candies, cakes, biscuits in an effort to ‘cheer you up’ and so, of course, the brain remembers what has comforted you in the past and uses reaction (unconscious action) to do the same for you now.
Et Voila! You’re Eating ‘Comfort Foods’
Trouble is, the aftermath isn’t very comforting, is it? Especially when it leads to weight gain and body changes you don’t want, right?
“So what’s the answer?”
Well, it comes in several stages, some obvious, some less so.
First, try to manage your stress and deal with problems, issues and concerns as they arise rather than when they feel so big that they’re crushing you.
Self-help guru Anthony Robbins has a saying I like regarding this. He says ‘it’s best to kill Godzilla while he’s a baby than to let him grow to 300ft and smashing up New York city before you decide to do it”.
I agree. Kill the monsters while they’re small whenever you can.
Second, when you feel the emotion start to build up, do your best to try and find some quiet space, clear your mind and slow your breathing.
Literally 5-10 minutes of slowing life down, NOT thinking about a solution and just breathing can work wonders for taking you ‘off the boil’, but be sure to do it BEFORE you’re in the depths of emotion taking over or you won’t get the benefit quite so much.
Third, understand that while reactions may take over your life, they can’t take over your fridge, your home or your grocery shopping.
What this means is that you can only eat ‘crap’ if you bought crap.
I have a simple rule about nutrition that goes ‘If you own it, you’ll eat it. Maybe not right now but when you’re tired, stressed or emotional it’ll somehow find its way from the fridge to your mouth and you won’t know a thing about it until you’ve swallowed it’.
If you REALLY don’t want to eat it reactively then the simplest answer is not to own it.
There are more things you can do, of course, but this is a great start to ending the process of reactive, compulsive eating and using your responsive brain to keep you on the path and enjoying the journey.
I hope this helps and would love to hear how it works for you.
Enjoy the journey!