So, here we go, my name's Lisa and I emotionally eat. I eat when I'm happy, I eat when I'm sad, I eat when I'm worried and I eat when I'm indifferent. What can I say? I eat.
We could go crazy-deep and look into the psychology of eating, because nothing is more telling than the language we use when we talk about food. Words concerned with loss, defeat, denial and deprivation become the pillars of our vocabulary. But I won't.
My 'food thing' is bargaining. Mum's tell their children: 'Because you've been good today, you can have a sweet.' Food then becomes tied in with our own personal reward system, and voila, unhealthy beliefs about eating are established. Getting chocolate as a reward puts a value on it that's way higher than that of any actual brown food substance - it becomes acknowledgment, approval and even a pleasure and decadence that we should only allow ourselves on those rare occasions when we are being very good.
These beliefs stay with us - hello, I'm 32 and still play the 'you can have a bar o' chocolate if you write a 1,000 words.' Yet, also now I'm a bit older, I'm beginning to associate being good with the denial of food too. My belief system is then adapted, so that I think I'm being good when I eat substantially less, but to reward myself, I eat. How messed-up is that?
This crazy relationship with food means that I never see food for the simple thing that it is, so that common wisdom of 'just eat less' feels practically impossible. It's not, it's just when you're an emotional eater, it most deffo FEELS like it.
Which is why I'm taking steps to understand what motivates me to eat.
And this is where it gets interesting. Y'see, for many people it's a sense of entitlement, that food is the one thing in their lives that they shouldn't have to worry about. What complicates this further is that the food that people use for comfort, such as chocolate, increase the body's natural feel-good neurotransmitter, seretonin. Unfortunately, like most quick fixes, the delicious good stuff that comes from comfort eating is soon followed by a sense of guilt and feeling like a failure, which triggers low mood, which in turn triggers the need to comfort through eating.
Now, I may know all this, but how do we get our minds, as well as our stomachs, to agree to a healthier way of eating? And FYI, that's what I'm working with here, healthy eating. I DO want to lose weight, but I am so done with diets and crazy weight-loss programmes, I want to nourish my body, and give it the goodness it needs to be the most kick-ass vessel that I get to rock out in.
Here's the Sassy way forward...
Why are you doing it? Many people see weight loss as a means to getting other things that they want in life - a relationship, better job or even more self-confidence, so it's important to ask yourself if losing weight will bring you those things or if there are other ways to obtain them. By pinning aspirations on a certain weight then, inevitably, if you fail to reach that weight you'll feel that it's impossible to reach your aspirations, too.
Remedies - now, I am happy to try all the the remedies available to help deal with emotional eating, and over the past 10 years probably have, but one that I've actually noticed a significant difference since using is the Bach™ Emotional Eating Kit. Now I SWEAR by my Bach™ Rescue Remedy in times o' anxiety and worry, so was very excited about the Emotional Eating kit. Each one includes x3 10ml essences; Chestnut Bud, Crab Apple and Cherry Plum all of which help deal with different elements of emotional eating and help you to think and act more rationally when food is involved.
Depending on your own particular emotions, you may want to take one, two or all three of the essences contained in the set. Your feelings may vary from day to day so you can change your choices as you wish.
Two drops of each chosen essence may be taken directly from the bottle, four times a day. Alternatively, add two drops of each chosen essence to a glass of water. Sip from it as often as you want, but at least four times a day for longer-term issues. For convenience when taking several essences at once, add two drops of each chosen essence to an empty 30ml dropper bottle. Top up with mineral water, adding a teaspoonful of brandy or cider vinegar as a preservative if you wish. From this bottle take four drops at least four times a day.
This prod doesn't claim to stop you eating emotionally but it's definitely helping me to cope with the various feelings that affect my eating habits, and that's deffo good enough for me! You can get it from Boots or Holland and Barratts.
Don't go for the quick fix - The truth is that quick-fix diets rarely work and when they do they are so drastic that it's hard to adhere to them for long. What really works is healthier eating and exercising throughout your life, not just for six or eight weeks or whatever the latest diets promise.
See it for what it is - a healthy lifestyle change, not something that will transform every aspect of your existence. Buy new clothes when you need them, make plans that you'll enjoy at any size, validate yourself for the person you are today, not for the person that you hope to be in the future.
Make peace with food - Don't see food as the enemy but, likewise, don't see it as some divine experience either. Whether we have a weight problem or not, many of us see food as a form of comfort or reward. The only way to get around this is to strike a balance with regard to how we eat and how we think about food. On a mental level, don't make that chocolate bar an object of dread or desire - it's a snack. The more you can take the emotion out of food, the more successful you will be.
Because you're worth it - A slab o' chocolate may make you feel good in the short term, but it's not addressing the real issue you are trying to deal with - you need a coping strategy other than food. Linking what you eat to how you feel about yourself only reinforces negative beliefs that centre on a conditional acceptance of who you are. Saying things such as 'I've been a good girl because I've eaten only one piece of toast for breakfast' sends the direct message that we should accept ourselves only if we are restricting our natural instincts. And this is counterproductive.
Our acceptance of who we are should be unconditional, not based on calorie intake or dress size. It is only when this happens that we will be able to value ourselves enough to eat healthier and to lead a happier, more positive lifestyle. I would love your thoughts, words o' wisdom on this and I'll be sure to keep you posted on my own healthy eating journey...