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how to stop the habit of overeating

How To Break The Habit Of Overeating, Emotional Eating, And Binge Eating

How to break the habit of overeating, binge eating and emotional eating?

 

What if emotional eating, binge eating and overeating is a habit we have learned over our lifetime? Does it mean we can unlearn it?

 

Le’s have a look!

 

Have you ever thought?…

I have a food problem’ or ‘I am addicted to food’?  Or do you feel like something literally takes over you, and you can’t control what or how much you eat?  In my work, I have identified 8 triggers that drive binge eating and overeating.  This is blog #3 of the Binge Eating Trigger Series, specifically about habits (and how to break them).

 

Habits are created through repetition 

Do you find doing your shoelaces difficult? Probably not. Why? Because you have practised so many times and no longer need to think about it.  The same applies to driving.  Of course, in the beginning, it was challenging.  But through practice and repetition, you solidified a robust habit.  Pathways in our brain fire repeated synapses to make it automatic.   So, if repetition creates habits, we can just as easily change habits through the same process.   

how to break the habit of overeating

How to break the habit involves understanding habit formation

Essentially, there are 3 components of habit creation:

  • First, there is a trigger (for example you feel sad)
  • Second, you act out a behavior (for example, you eat)
  • Third, you receive a reward (for example, you feel good for that moment)

 

Trigger – Behaviour – Reward

 

So, what is a trigger?

A trigger is something that activates our urge to eat in the brain.  Essentially, it is an event or sensation that creates the automatic compulsion to do the habit. For example, if you binge eat when you feel stressed (stress = the trigger).   So, if you do the same behavior of eating numerous times for the same trigger, your brain remembers the feel-good sensation food gave us, so seeks it out next time we feel stressed.

how to break the habit of overeating

Human psychology seeks pleasure to avoid pain

It is critical to understand that food rewards us and changes how we feel.  And it achieves this instantaneously (just like drugs do).  So next time when you feel sad, your brain remembers what you did last time.  It will send a signal and say: ‘Remember what we did last time? We ate cake, and it felt good, let’s do it again!’.  This will repeat over and create an automatic loop – almost as if something has taken over.

how to break the habit of overeating

Eating is a Learned behaviour

It is vital to recognize that eating habits are often learned behaviours from childhood.  So give yourself grace.  For example, when you cleaned your bedroom your parents gave you a treat.  Or when you were sad, your parents said ‘Let’s get ice cream’.  You learn at a subconscious level, ‘When I am sad and eat ice cream I feel good’.  So it’s not surprising that many of us emotionally eat!

 

How to break the habit

Overall, the aim is to take the habit off autopilot by either eliminating the trigger or changing the behaviour.

 

1)Identify and change the trigger

Identify if there are certain emotions surrounding the binge eating.  Are you stressed? Sad? Angry? Identify what you feel at the times you tend to overeat.  By doing this, you are cultivating awareness through self-observation.  You are shining a light on the emotional trigger.

how to break the habit of overeating

Eliminate or change the trigger to break the habit

Ask yourself – Can I break, eliminate, or change the trigger? For example, imagine your trigger was stress.  Obviously, we can’t change situations, but we can change how we perceive it.   So ask yourself, ‘What meaning am I giving to this situation?’ Sometimes the same situation can look completely different for different people. Perhaps it’s not the worst thing to happen, but the best? How can you reframe?  Or if you feel lonely, can you reach out to a friend?  If you are sad, can you allow the feeling instead? 

 

If we can’t do this (for example we are a new mother and our baby is not sleeping through the night and we are utterly sleep-deprived which is causing overeating) –  we need to focus on changing behaviour.

how to break the habit of overeating

2) Change the behaviour

If it’s impossible to change or reduce the trigger, let’s look at the behavior.  So, ask yourself, ‘I know I am eating when I am tired, so what is it I can do to help myself when I am tired?’.  Because sometimes just being aware of what is driving the urge to eat help. Ask yourself this…

 

  • Can I find a moment to rest?
  • Can I ask someone for help?
  • What can I implement and do to get some support and energy?
  • How can I get more rest?

 

3) Reward

Finally, understand the ultimate reward (or state) you might be seeking through food.  What do we get from this behaviour? For some, it’s happiness or a calming effect.  So eating might be a way of self-soothing or a comfort remedy. 

 

Close your eyes…

Close your eyes and tap into what will give you true happiness and joy of a fulfilled life.  In this way, we shine a light on the intrinsic reward you are craving instead of the temporal dopamine hit from the chocolate.  These are very different.  

how to break the habit of overeating

How to break the habit of how we use food? I am here to help!

The idea of breaking the habit of overeating might feel overwhelming.  Especially if we have been “creating and developing” this habit over our life time. If you would like support I have a 9-week online group coaching program where I personally guide you through this process.  Register here to be notified for the next intake. Or download my free workbook to help you identify what trigger might be driving the binge eating. Let’s break that habit because life is way too short worrying about food!

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

6 KEY STEPS TO

FREE GUIDE REVEALS

 

8 Hidden Reasons for Binge Eating and Overeating

 

Feel in control around food especially in stressful situations and end the cycle of eating secretly, feeling guilty and ashamed.

 

Reveal the hidden reasons why you can’t stop thinking about food and find out what you can do to feel normal around food again.

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break the habit of emotional eating

Emotional Eating – Why We Eat When Stressed And How To Break The Habit

Break the habit of emotional eating

Do you feel addicted to food? Or feel like something is wrong with you because you are always eating? Oftentimes, it is when we feel intense emotions (such as anger, sadness, frustration, loneliness or even happiness) that we reach for food.  For some, this can lead to crazy binge episodes, food obsession, or compulsive eating.  If you are after change, this blog will help you break the habit of emotional eating.

 

The critical question is, ‘How do we manage stressful moments without always going to food’. 

 

Important to understand to break the habit of emotional eating

Let me be clear.  It is ok to eat.  In fact, food is meant to pleasurable and enjoyed, and we all emotionally eat to a degree.  It only really becomes an issue if food is the only way we cope with life.  In particular, if it becomes a self-medication strategy.

break the habit of emotional eating

What causes emotional eating?

1) Biological

One aspect for emotional eating is the biology of humans that is a cause of our emotional eating or binge eating.  Namely, when we feel big emotional states, our stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) elevate.  This activates our reptilian brain to go into survival mode.  Subsequently, we revert to subconscious patterns of what we know will soothe us.  So, our brain might start signaling that we need large quantities of food to survive.  Consequently, we feel an overwhelming urge to eat.

 

2) Subconscious patterns from childhood

The second massive reason many of us seek food for comfort, is conditioning from our childhood.  For example, the possible association created from our mum holding us in her arms singing a lullaby and feeding us to sleep.  Or when we got older and received a food reward for cleaning our room.  Or the family getting a takeaway meal to celebrate success.   In short, we learn that food makes us feel good emotionally. 

break the habit of emotional eating

3) Society normalizes emotional eating

Emotional eating seems to be normalized by society.  For instance, how many times do we watch movies and see a girl sobbing with a tub of ice cream to soothe her broken heart?  Similarly, a film where a guy goes to the pub to drink away his sorrows?  Essentially, these messages get fed to us, contributing to our learned and unconscious behaviors. 

 

What do we do in moments of stress, overwhelm, and sadness?

 

1) Mindfulness to break the habit of emotional eating 

When the craving kicks in, take a breath to calm down the sympathetic nervous system so we can perhaps make a better decision.  Then ask the following:

  • Why do I want to eat this?
  • Am I using food to comfort myself?
  • How can I comfort myself in a different way?
  • Also, can I feel any sensations or emotions arising in my body and where can I feel them?

2) Acknowledge the feeling 

It is important that we acknowledge how we feel and the accompanying bodily sensations.  Allow space for it.   In fact, many of us want a ‘magic bullet’ to make all our eating issues disappear.  And, probably hearing ‘sit with your feelings’, is not appealing.  Just think about it. You feelings are there for a reason. They give us a message so we can navigate our life. When we take time to listen to the message, we can understand what might be not aligned with our values, if we need to have a conversation with someone or if we need to make some changes in our life.

 

By avoiding doing so, we continue being unhappy. No amount of food will ever make us happy. What if we could find the courage to ask ourselves what our emotions are telling us so we can create a life we truly desire?

 

Commonly, the emotion we are avoiding is the reason we eat food (because food changes how we feel).  But, what if we did not need to change how we feel? What if we could be with our emotions and accept them.  

 

Let me be honest, it won’t feel comfortable initially.  But the feeling will pass.  Emotions pass.  We never feel sad all the time.  We need to learn to accept and create space for emotions.  

 

And what if, there is true contentment, pleasure, joy and freedom on the other side?

break the habit of emotional eating

Questions to help understand, feel and process the emotion:

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why am I feeling that way?
  • What do I need?
  • How can I meet that need?
  • Do I need a conversation with someone?
  • Would a day to myself be helpful?
  • Do I need a conversation with my partner? A cuddle?
  • Do I need someone to hold a safe space?

 

Ultimately, sometimes a gentle ear or a cuddle is all we need.  However, we tend to run on autopilot and try and get relief from food.  So, once we interrupt this pattern and allow space we don’t require food. It is really this simple! 

 

Processing strategies

Sometimes numerous emotions might arise.  If this happens, pick the strongest and the one that requires the most attention.  Take your time to feel and decide what you need to do.   Journal, write it down.  Call a friend and make an appointment to see a psychologist or counselor.  Allow tears, allow the grief, allow the anger. (If you are struggling to feel your feelings, check out this podcast episode hosted by dietitian Paige Smathers from Nutrition Matters – Episode 110: How to Feel Your Feelings with Tiffany Roe)

 

The goal is to bring the emotion out. 

break the habit of emotional eating

Be courageous to break the habit of emotional eating

Undoubtedly, it takes courage to apply this process and create new habits.  Admittedly, processing and releasing emotions can feel scary at the beginning. However, the more we practice it, the more we can learn to trust ourselves.  Allow the feelings to be, because they are messages – nothing else.   

 

Free workbook

This blog post is the second Binge Eating Trigger in the blog series of Binge Eating Triggers.  Download the free workbook below to identify 8 hidden triggers for overeating, binge eating, and emotional eating.  You can see which one might apply to you.  

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

IDENTIFY 8 HIDDEN REASONS FOR
BINGE EATING, OVEREATING &
EMOTIONAL

Regain control over food!

 

Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.

 

Ultimately, we can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.

 

FREE DOWNLOAD
triggers

Binge Eating Triggers: Why Can’t I Stop Eating Chocolate Once I Start?

Binge Eating Triggers

Binge Eating Triggers are an interesting thing. Haven’t we all experienced moments when all we wanted is a piece of chocolate. But once we start, it’s like something takes over and we can’t stop.

 

Why is that?

 

For instance, have you ever driven past KFC and out of a sudden felt hungry.  Or walked past a fish and chips shop, inhaling the deep-fried aroma, suddenly feeling an intense wave of hunger?  But before this, you were not even thinking about food!  Or, you have one crisp, and suddenly you want to eat more and find it difficult to stop? 

 

What happens in these scenarios?

Binge Eating triggers

Sensory Binge Eating Triggers

Simply put, these are triggers.  To be specific, these are Sensory Triggers. From my experience and research, there are 8 binge eating triggers that cause us to binge or overeat.  This blog will specifically look at the 4 sensory triggers that create binge eating urges.

 

The 4 sensory triggers – activated by the senses

  1. We see food and are hungry for it (For example, seeing the delectable chocolate cake in a cafe cabinet)
  2. We hear someone talking about food (An advertisement for pizza and we think, yes we would like to eat it).
  3. Smelling food (Walking past a bakery and suddenly craving bread)
  4. Taste. You have a little bit and want more. Many people say ‘Once I start eating chocolate, I can’t stop
triggers

Strategies for mindful eating when confronted with Binge Eating Triggers

 

1. Create awareness around the craving

When we are confronted with one of these triggers, we need to STOP and PAUSE. This gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves, ‘Why are we now suddenly thinking about food?’.  Essentially, this creates awareness around this sensation of craving.  And, if you were not thinking about food prior, you are probably not hungry and your body does not require it. In THIS video I am talking where to start when addressing Binge Eating Triggers.

 

This is not about restriction

Now, the restriction mentality is certainly not what I am advocating, as this causes deprivation (and more binging).  So,  you can still decide to consciously eat the food. But, we want to eat mindfully and not on autopilot.  So, pause and ask yourself the following; 

 

  • Am I hungry for this right now?’ (if you are, eat it!)
  • Do I want it later?
  • ‘Does this particular food align with my health goals?

 

Ultimately, after acknowledging the trigger and asking these critical questions,  you can decide to eat the food or not.  Or, you might make a different more aligned food choice.  Remember, what you choose to eat needs to be delicious and satisfying.  This is critical as there is no point in eating food we do not enjoy!

Binge Eating triggers

Triggers activate endorphins

Further, certain foods trigger endorphins in the brain even by just looking at it.  The brain remembers the prior pleasure of eating that particular food.  Simply put, your brain might be urging you to eat something because we naturally seek pleasure.  This is our psychological design, making it more challenging to resist.  So again, be aware this is just a trigger, you might not actually be hungry for the food.  

 

2. Imagine and tap into the sensation

After you identify and create awareness around the trigger, imagine having the flavor of the food in your mouth.   For example, imagine biting into the chocolate cake and chewing it.  Then, imagine it in your stomach and the feeling of eating it all.  Then ask, do you want this right now? Do you want this sensation? Interestingly, sometimes your decision to eat it changes.   

 

This is not a guilt-trip

To be clear, this process is not to make you feel guilty or bad.  It’s about acknowledging the sensation and tapping into mindful eating practices.  Some days you will eat it, and others you will not.   So, these steps are very powerful to cultivate conscious eating decisions around our food choices. 

 

What are you really craving?

Finally, these strategies might shine a light on another need you might be craving at a deeper level (such as an emotional need)  Perhaps not, maybe you just want to eat it. And this is great too! 

Binge Eating triggers

Understand what triggers you

Sensory triggers are 1 of the 8 triggers that lead to binge eating and overeating.  I have created a free workbook so you can look through all of the triggers and identify what might be driving your own food choices.  In particular, the workbook has strategies about what you can do.  Importantly, these are practical tools you can apply immediately – so you can really change how you respond to food and ultimately feel in control around food. 

 

Finally, download the free workbook HERE and find out what works for you.

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

6 KEY STEPS TO
END BINGE EATING CYCLE &
RELEASE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

Regain power over food!

 

Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.

 

Ultimately, we can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.

DOWNLOAD NOW
lose weight

Help! I Want To Lose Weight. Why Can’t I Lose Weight?

Do you want to lose weight?

Not everyone who wants to lose weight has disordered eating, poor body image, or an eating disorder.  For people who experience disordered eating behaviours, I suggest focusing on creating a healthy relationship with food instead of weight loss. Some people experience weight loss as a byproduct of reducing or even eliminating binge eating and overeating. However, some people would benefit from weight loss for health reasons or limited mobility.  It is important we do it for the right reasons and in the right way. I want to dive deeper into looking at common mistakes when starting a weight loss journey and what to do instead.

 

3 common mistakes

1} Restrictions and the elimination of food groups

Many people cut out entire food groups when trying to lose weight.  For example sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free, or carb-free.  Obviously, eating becomes encumbered by all sorts of rules.  In addition, the focus of ‘I can not eat this’, causes deprivation, and consequently emotional pain.  This kind of dieting goes against our innate human psychology, which is naturally wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain.  

 

Moreover, these restrictions cause stress, worry, and a sense of lack.  This, in turn, might lead to binging and overeating episodes.   In all honesty, it has nothing to do with weak will-power.  Merely, our human psychology is not designed to be tortured with diets.  This is why we fail. 

lose weight

2} Judgment and fear creates stress (increasing cortisol levels)

Some people say to me I look at food and gain weight!.  Whilst not literally true, there is some truth to this.    When there is fear, anxiety, stress (or perceived stress) both cortisol and adrenaline are elevated.  So even with the seemingly harmless internal dialogue such as, ‘I am so disgusting’, ‘So fat’, ‘I am ashamed to be seen like this’, generates a surge of stress hormones.   Furthermore, if you look at a delectable piece of cake and feel scared of eating it, the same hormone surge process occurs.  These hormones also cause fat storage, all working against our actual goal of losing weight!

lose weight

3} Not addressing the core reason why you are struggling to lose weight

Finally, causes for weight gain are highly personalized.  Indeed we should not blindly follow the ‘fad diet’ that worked for our best friend or neighbour.  Usually, these diets do not address the core issue and are unsustainable.  Moreover, people quit, only to fall into another diet trap.  Ultimately, we need to address what is going on for our own situation.  

 

Some causes for weight gain might be:

  • large portion sizes
  • binge eating
  • too many processed foods
  • hormonal imbalance
  • blood sugar issues
  • emotional reasons
lose weight

What to do instead?

We need to focus on joy and pleasure.   Sounds too simple? It’s not.  When there is joy we won’t need ‘motivation’.  Moreover, we will naturally be drawn to healthy food.  Also, we will be pulled effortlessly towards our goals.  So, how do we create joy and pleasure?

 

1} Movement

Add movement that cultivates joy.  Such as dancing, yoga, family bike rides, hiking, gym class, Zumba, or tramping.  If the movement you choose is joyful, you will not feel the ‘effort’ component. 

 

2}  Add food you love

Focus on adding rather than eliminating. What are the foods you can add that are full of nutrients and taste good and satisfy you?  In the Balanced Diet Framework, I teach how to add all food groups seamlessly into your diet.  When you eat in this way you will notice you will crave less chocolate and sugar.    Further, by allowing yourself to eat treats you enjoy, you will dissolve the stress around the ‘forbidden foods’.

 

3} Mindset to lose weight

Thirdly, create a compelling future and vision. This involves visualizing your goals daily.  Ask yourself….What are you striving for in life? What activities are you doing? Who are you surrounded with? Are you traveling? Are you enjoying time with your family? What is your dream job?  Keep your compelling vision in your mind.  Meditate on this.  Physically bring those emotions of already having that life into your mind and body.  Undoubtedly, you are less likely to binge or overeat when you feel good and excited about life.   Consequently, this state will allow you to effortlessly take aligned actions towards your vision.  

lose weight

So when does a person have the best chance to lose weight?

  • First, they approach weight loss from a logical perspective (not emotional)
  • Second, they accept where they are on their journey
  • Thirdly, the process to lose weight involves joyful movement and enjoying satisfying meals (not by stress and deprivation).  
  • Finally, the motivation to lose weight comes from wanting to increase the quality of life (as opposed to shame and wanting to please others)

 

What if losing weight could be easy?

Ultimately, there is no need for self-torture or a battle of willpower.  By creating a joyful daily movement routine and a compelling future; motivation will be borne from internal elation.  Happy hormones will be released and we will feel excited to remain committed our newly acquired habits.  Please get in touch if you would like to chat or need more support on this journey. Eugenia x

 

Download The Balanced Diet Framework here which includes a free recipe book! Or below, I have a free resource to support you around binge eating or emotional eating – click the link below.

 

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

6 KEY STEPS TO
END BINGE EATING CYCLE &
RELEASE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

Regain power over food!

 

Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.

 

We can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.

DOWNLOAD FREE GUIDE
eat when bored

Help! I Always Eat When I Am Bored!

Help, I eat when bored! 

Do you eat when you are bored? Whenever you have any downtime at home, do you promptly find yourself in the abyss of your kitchen searching for a new snack to devour?  The kitchen seductively lures you into the cabinets, even if you don’t actually feel hungry? 

 

Let me be honest with you.  The two most common reasons people eat (when they are not actually hungry) is from stress or boredom.  Funnily enough, these are opposite sensations.  Boredom is not enough stimulation, and stress is an overload of sensation on the nervous system.  But both are very common in our life! 

eat when bored

I eat when I am bored!

So, in those bored moments, you might find yourself sitting alone watching television in the evenings, or having a rest on a Sunday.  Because life can be a hectic juggle of ‘go go go, busy busy busy’, you find this sensation of ‘not doing’ quite uncomfortable.  

 

Moreover, if we decide to eat when we are bored, it becomes a bandaid solution.  Why? Foods high in fat and sugar will give us a hit of dopamine and endorphins causing us to feel good.  But only temporarily.  So, we will inevitably feel bored again.  And most likely eat, again….(cycle repeat – forming a habit)

 

An opportunity

I see this boredom sensation as a wonderful opportunity to interrupt the dominant pattern and do something we enjoy.  Something that stimulates us.  Our feelings are never the problem, it’s what we decide to do with them.  Ultimately, we can all learn how to respond to our feelings, bodily sensations, and emotions.  And a great way for us to do that is to cultivate awareness of our behaviors. It’s like shining a light on a blind spot! 

eat when bored

Empowering activity if you eat when bored

Grab a piece of paper or your journal. Ask yourself the following questions:

 

1} Why am I eating at this moment? 

Often, it is not about what we eat, but more importantly WHY. ‘I am bored. I don’t have anything to do.  I feel lonely.’  Ask yourself if you can wait until you are finished your activity and eat later? PS- waiting until hunger sets in makes food 1000% more enjoyable.  Hunger is the best seasoning and spice!  Food tastes so much better when we have an appetite for it. So learn to check in with actual hunger cues.

 

2} How am I eating? 

Am I eating consciously and being present? Or am I eating fast and secretly so that nobody can see me? Are you hiding the wrappers? Are you eating fast and on the go? Am I eating mindfully and slowly so I fully enjoy my food?  

 

3} When do I eat?

Am I eating every time I have an internal bodily sensation that is uncomfortable (such as stress, boredom or sadness)?  Am I angry or frustrated? Lonely? Do I eat because it’s a certain time of the day? 

 

4} What am I eating?

What are the types of foods you are eating?

 

Reflecting on why you eat when bored

These questions allow us to become compassionately curious about our eating.  So,  put on your investigator’s hat. Without judgment, just observe what is going on.  Frame your writing around the central idea of ‘How can I learn about myself right now? ‘How can I grow?’

eat when bored

5} Identify your ideal

After answering these questions,  we can then ask, what is my ideal?

If we don’t know what we want, it’s really hard to achieve it, right? Because we start doing all sorts of random things.  But if those actions do not fully align with our desires and goals, then we won’t actually go where we want.  So, decide your ideal way of eating and write it down.  

 

6} What will you do to close the gap?

Then, decide what you are going to do to close that gap between where you are now, to where you want to be. 

 

Take the first step to stop eating when bored

What is the one step you are going to do?  You might decide, from now on, every time I am bored I am going to do this writing exercise.  Or every time I am bored, I am going to do some exercise or do some art.  It could be anything that resonates with you as something joyful.  For instance:

  • yoga
  • gentle stretching
  • painting
  • learn something new
  • read a book
  • call a friend
eat when bored

Boredom is not the problem

At the end of the day, boredom is not the problem.   We can choose what we do with boredom and how we respond.  This journaling process will help you identify where you are, where you want to be, and how you will close the gap!   Eating when bored provides an opportunity to do something that gives pleasure, meaning, and joy!   Let me know how you go.  I would love to hear from you. Eugenia x

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

6 KEY STEPS TO
END BINGE EATING CYCLE &
RELEASE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

Regain power over food!

 

Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.

 

We can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.

 

stress and emotional eating

How To Stop Stress Eating and Emotional Eating

Stress and emotional eating

It is common knowledge that stress and emotional eating can adversely impact us both physically and psychologically.  In this way, when we negatively cope with stress and emotions, we can easily begin stress-eating foods high in sugar, salt, and fat.  But why does this happen? And why does it often happen on autopilot?  Before you even realize, you find yourself elbow-deep in a packet of chips!  

 

Now, if you eat when you are stressed occasionally, that is no problem. But if it is affecting your physical, mental, and emotional well being;  then it might be an issue for you.  This blog will help you take action to re-wire some of the habitual patterns that no longer serve your highest good.

stress and emotional eating

Why does stress-eating happen on autopilot?

Firstly, our brain is a very old brain.  Regardless of the actual situation, stress causes our brain to go into fight or flight mode.  So our brain reacts as if a fierce tiger is approaching, preparing us for survival.   Hence, the brain is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones), whilst our pre-frontal cortex (rational brain) is hijacked.  This process literally shuts down our decision-making abilities.  Survival instinct takes over.  Ultimately, we prepare to freeze, fight, or flee.

 

Fierce tiger

Now, there actually was no tiger. Perhaps the cause of stress was work-demands or family conflict.  Or maybe excessive coffee activated the stress hormones? Whatever it is, our body feels like it has just run away from a scary tiger.  Also, it thinks we used significant energy.  As a result, we now crave calorie-dense foods to prepare for the next attack.  Not only this,  our body will also hold onto fat (in particular, around our stomach area) to save some energy for when we might need it.  This is one reason we crave when we are stressed.

stress and emotional eating

Habits cause stress and emotional eating

Secondly, autopilot often occurs because of ingrained habits.  Habits start with a trigger. For example, when you experience sadness, that triggers a certain behavior (such as eating a packet of cookies).  You feel good momentarily, and get a hit of dopamine (a feel-good hormone in the brain).  So you temporarily forget about the stress around you.  Importantly, your brain will remember this feel-good sensation. And when we feel stressed again, your brain will send a signal: ‘Remember last time when we felt stressed, we ate something and felt good! Let’s do that again!’ So the cycle will continue! This habit will become part of your instinctual and bodily reactions.

stress and emotional eating

Embodied behaviors example

Let me share another example to illustrate this.  Think about when you might have rearranged your kitchen and decided to store your coffee cups in a different location.  It might be days, or even weeks when you habitually go to the wrong cupboard to fetch a cup. You will constantly go back to the same position where they use to be. Because before you even have a chance to think about it, you will open the cupboard and realize ‘Oh, I changed the position and they are not here anymore’.  

 

Thus, your mind has become your body.  We literally embody certain behaviors and habits! It is the same autopilot process when we feel stressed.

 

The subconscious mind

Interestingly, 90% of our decisions are driven by our subconscious mind.  In this way, many actions and emotional states are literally stored in our body and mind merely from repetitive behaviors.  That is why some people are addicted to always feeling angry, sad, or frustrated. We embody this feeling and it becomes our ‘go-to emotional place’.  And to feel good again, we eat.  We temporarily feel good.  And, our brain remembers.  Then, the cycle continues even though we said last time ‘I will not do that anymore…’

stress and emotional eating

What can I do to stop stress and emotional eating?

Here are some solid action steps….

 

1) Observe and change your thoughts

We need to change what we think.  This will create new synapses in our brain and we will begin firing and wiring these new patterns.   First, we need to become aware of all of our thinking patterns.  Ask yourself,  ‘What are my dominant thoughts?’  I am lazy…so dumb…so fat and ugly.  I will never lose weight’.  Your brain picks up on the repeating phrases and says ‘Yeah, that is who I am. I am not going to change my identity’.  Awareness and observing these thoughts is the first step in ending stress eating and emotional eating

 

2) Identify repetitive emotions

Next, become aware of your repetitive emotions and feelings.  What is the feeling you are addicted to? What is your ‘go-to’ feeling? Some people are constantly sad or seem to be depressed about something. To some degree, they are comfortable in that place. They (subconsciously) want to stay in that feeling.  It’s what they know and it meets their needs. We need to be aware of this and be really honest with ourselves….

stress and emotional eating

3) Decide you want to change

Thirdly, we need to make a decision that we no longer want to think, feel, or experience those thoughts and feelings.  I am certainly not suggesting you repress emotions.  I believe we need to feel all emotions and feelings.  We need to see them as a message.  But we need to question emotions and ask – ‘What does this feeling mean? Why am I feeling like this? Is it something that I need to act on?’  If some emotions are a constant theme and are no longer serving us, we need to change how we feel and work on it. 

 

4) Intention setting

Finally, set an intention of what you want to do instead. Next time you are stressed, what are you going to do? What are the thoughts you want to experience? What are the actions? For example, next time you are stressed you might say ‘I want to speak to the person who upset me’. Or, ‘I want to start journaling to start processing my emotions and thoughts in a more powerful way’. ‘I am going to seek support and help and will process what I am feeling and learn new behaviors’.  

stress and emotional eating

Rewire your brain

Setting an intention paves the way for our brain.  Your brain will begin practicing new pathways and synapses for improved ways of thinking and acting.  What we wire is what we fire (automatically). Change can be faster than you think! Practice practice practice! Repetition is the mother of skills.  So let me know what will you do next time you feel stressed?

Eat when bored Stop Binge eating and emotional eating

6 KEY STEPS TO
END BINGE EATING CYCLE &
RELEASE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT

Regain power over food!

 

Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem.

 

We can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.

 

CLICK HERE to Download Your Free Guide