What does it mean to be an emotional eater, anyway?
An emotional eater is someone who frequently eats in response to how they feel rather than in response to physical hunger.
Learning to tell the difference between emotional and physical hunger-- and then only eating when you are physically hungry-- is key to permeant weight loss.
So how do you know if you are an emotional eater? Check out the list below.
I get it. I used to be an emotional eater, too.
When unwanted urges govern your actions you aren't in control and your excess weight is the visible proof of it.
Once I got my hormones in check and started to manage my mind, I shed 30 lbs. with far greater ease than ever before-- and I've kept it off.
I can teach you how.
In my last post, Your Thoughts Make You Fat, I taught you that what you think directly informs the results you get. Hence the wisdom of the Buddha: What you think, you become.
In this post I am going to teach you how to actually start managing your thoughts so you can decide, on purpose, which results you'll get.
The first tool you'll need is called a Thought Flow and it works like this.
Managing your mind requires that you know what is going on in there first.
And that can be scary.
But remember, you can do hard things.
Think of it like a basement that you keep putting stuff in without any real plan or purpose. If you ever want to put that space to good use you are going to need to sort and organize to determine what you want to keep and what you don't, and then purge what is no longer serving you.
The trick to doing this effectively is, in true Marie Kondo style, you'll first need to see what you have (Kondo recommends pulling everything out of your closet, for example, and putting it in a pile to sort it through as opposed to going piece-by-piece from inside your closet) by compiling it all together and then holding each thought in your hands, so to speak, and asking yourself whether or not this thought "sparks joy" or, in non-Kondo terms, whether the thought is serving you by getting you the results you want.
The best way to know what is happening in your mind is to let all of your thoughts flow out on paper-- I call this a Thought Flow.
You are literally going to let every single thought that comes to mind pour out into a journal or notebook designated for this purpose.
It is SUPER important to do this without editing yourself. You need to see what is going on in there and if you refrain or edit you are hiding from yourself.
This means you might come up against thoughts you really don't like or don't want to admit to having.
Write them down anyway. This is critical.
These are the thoughts that are going to give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of overcoming emotional overeating.
Returning to the basement analogy, if you were to discover an old, moldy, putrid pair of running sneakers in the back corner of your basement you wouldn't ignore them, would you? You wouldn't try to cover them up with other, cleaner, newer sneakers, right? You would pull them out and discard them immediately, and then investigate how the heck they got so moldy and putrid in the first place. Is there a leak in the basement that needs fixing? Oh, yes! There it is! Let me take care of that leak right now, today, so that my basement can be a place of use and service-- not a moldy, musty place that deters me.
It may be useful to do this at the same time everyday. For me, I do it first thing in the morning when I wake up. I sit down with my coffee and see what my brain is up to today.
You can also do it during the day when something troubling comes up. For example, I had a client who had completely given up sugar and flour and all of the sudden she was experiencing strong sugar cravings after lunch at work so she grabbed her journal and wrote about it.
Using the tools I taught her, she figured out that she craves sugar when she feels tired and stressed and after lunch is the peak time for those two emotions at her high-powered job at a large law firm. Feeling tired and stressed are two deeply uncomfortable emotions so in an attempt to avoid them she would eat sugar to cover them up.
Of course, giving in to the sugar urge just made things worse because she was still tired and stressed after eating it, and now her brain had to manage the stress and disappointment of eating foods that sabotage her weight loss goals, in addition to the original work-related stress and tiredness.
She learned this about herself, and was able to overcome it by deciding on purpose to do so, by having the courage to look at her thoughts in the Thought Flow.
And you can learn this about yourself, too.
So get started.
Go find a piece of paper or a blank journal (don't wait until you've found the perfect journal-- start now!) and let your thoughts pour out of you like water.
ok, now what?
Lia Pinelli is a weight loss coach and educator who helps women put an end to emotional overeating and lose weight, permanently.