The Mental Mind Shift is the focus of part 3 in the series of How to Overcome Emotional Eating. So far, we have discussed simple ways to incorporate moderate exercise, simple dietary modifications, and meditation to help empower you to overcome emotional eating. The potential benefits of nutritional supplementation along with 3 specific categories of supplements were laid out in part 2 of How to Overcome Emotional Eating. On to Part 3 – The Mental Mind Shift, and how to further strengthen the power of your “Thinking Brain.”
Until now in your quest to prevent Emotional Overeating, you’ve seen some changes in your eating patterns because you’ve adopted a healthy diet, you’re exercising regularly and meditating, and you may even be taking the suggested supplements, but then WHAM, you’re hit with stress and your Emotional Brain goes berserk. It has become the most single-minded, block-everything-else-out, monster and it is in PAIN. It has one and only one goal in mind, to relieve the pain, it must eat.
This is a habit you have created over the years, and someway, somehow it is serving your immediate needs, but the long term effects are without a doubt failing health and lower self-esteem.
All habits have three components: 1) triggers 2) routines 3) rewards.
Your Emotional Overeating habit has the same three components. 1)Trigger=stress 2) routine=overeat 3) reward=feel good.
Repeated over and over again this pattern becomes ingrained. Ironically, the least productive way of overcoming this urge is by resisting it. Once your trigger has been sparked, your Emotional Brain will go on autopilot until the reward has been achieved. That’s right; resistance is futile, resistance creates more stress.
A better strategy is to create a new habit. It is your Thinking Brain that will create the new habit. If you have read this far, you are to be congratulated and encouraged. It means your Thinking Brain can focus and learn. You have the potential to change your habit!
Step 1– Identify the triggers. When you have the urge to overeat ask yourself, “Is there a common person, place, time of day, or event that sparks the urge?” What emotions were you feeling when this happens? It is important to link the answer to the first question with the identified emotion. It may take a few overeating binges but keep observing; the answerers will come to you.
Step 2– As you are playing out/succumbing to overeating, ask yourself “Is the act of overeating satisfying the emotionally triggered urge?”
Step 3– Substitute a different activity and test if the new activity satisfies the emotionally triggered urge. Here are a few examples: walk outside, watch a short comedy, smile in the mirror, or my favorite, a five-minute meditation. Keep on testing different activities until you find the one that satisfies the emotionally triggered urge.
Step 4– Once you’ve identified the emotion you are trying to satisfy, and you have discovered an activity that satisfies the emotion, you need to write out and prepare before the next triggered happens. For example, “When I get home from work (time trigger), and I feel lonely (the emotion of woe is me), I will write out what I am grateful for (feeling that I have a lot of joy in my life).” Another example-“When my Dad (person trigger )calls to “talk”(triggering the emotion of I’m not good enough) I will look at pictures of my kids because that gives me the feeling of “I am good enough.” In both of these examples, the previous habit of overeating satisfied an emotional need. By planning before the event, you have the ability to create a more empowering habit.
As you have just read, Overcoming Emotional Eating, at best takes a multi-faceted approach that doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. There are many factors that come into play. Please let me know how these strategies work for you, or of any other strategies you have found helpful in dealing with Emotional Eating.