When food is the way you cope… the comfort on a horrible day and a welcome part of the celebration of good times, being told to eat less, stop snacking and exercise isn’t advice that’s liable to work. For you, food is a trusted, faithful friend you don’t want to let go.
Taking on impulse eating and snacking isn’t just about cutting calories and getting more exercise. Instead it’s a whole lot harder. It may involve identifying and recognizing painful memories… feelings you might have hidden, even from yourself, for some time.
You will need to face down the emotions that trigger your eating so that you can start to get a handle on the reasons behind what you’re doing.
You’ll also need to find non-food ways to cope with the situations that trigger your eating. An argument or bad day might be handled by a bit of exercise, vacuuming or weeding a garden.
An especially good day could be topped by a bubble bath or massage. Managing stress will be super important too, doing so will leave you with the strength to live the way you want to… not leaning on your old friend food.
Here are tools suggested by nutritionists Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky both of the Mayo Clinic to help you get to the root of impulsive emotional eating…
1. Keep a journal where you write down everything you eat, why you’re eating it and how you’re feeling. You’ll start to notice repeating situations that trigger eating connected to emotions. This ups your awareness and makes it more likely that you can catch yourself before you grab some junk food.
2. Find non-food ways to satisfy your urges and write them down. A plan increases your chances of using these coping strategies the next time you’re tempted. Riding out the trigger is another, harder, option – distration is y our ally here and t ime. If you wait it out the emotion will fade and so too, the urge to eat.
3. Manage stress by making relaxation part of your daily routine… whether it’s deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, tai chi, meditation or regular exercise these options are great ways to cope with stress, and do it without your old buddy food.
Beyond these expert tips, there are some other suggestions you might try to you’re your impulse eating under control. You can…
– Replace candy dishes with fruit bowls.
– Remove your hidden stashes of junk food and don’t replace them.
– Keep foods that tempt you out of your house, or at least in a place that’s hard to reach and slow to access.
– Chew gum while you cook, or avoid the chore altogether.
– Clean up leftovers right away, soaking dishes in hot, sudsy water rather than letting them sit so you can snack.
– Sit as far from tempting finger foods at parties as you can, and don’t hover near the buffet table either. Instead focus on the conversation and the people around you, rather than the food.
– Have a fun, engaging hobby you can do while watching TV and keep your supplies right on hand.
These common sense suggestions, along with the expert tips are sure to help you develop coping skills that will keep you from reaching for the cookies or chips in response to a tough day.
Once you’ve learnt to stop snacking and control any impulse eating habits not only will you feel better… stronger and more in control… it will put you on the road to improving your weight control efforts, as well as your overall health.