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Weight Loss Blocks and the emotional eater

Posted on 29 May, 2015 at 0:20

Weight loss blocks and the emotional eater.

Whenever I start on a diet I am filled with motivation and clear cut goals. In the beginning I really believe that this is possible. I read the diet book from cover to cover and head off to the store and stock up on whatever food is within my range and away I go.

 

The first few days, if it’s a sensible diet, are usually a breeze. I am a typical Monday dieter, I usually start on a Monday. So my first challenge is the first weekend. I associate the weekend with relaxation and rewarding food. Come Friday evening, I start to feel a bit of a let down, everyone around me is eating snacks. I know it is recommended that you get rid of snacks from the house, impossible in my home as my big hungry grown up family are grazers and night time snackoholics. Often their snack would be healthy and my sons work out so they are burning more calories than their one hour walk a day mother.

 

My first hurdle is this first weekend. I try to increase my exercise activity over the weekend which I have discovered helps curve my appetite. I plan my menus and try to include appealing meals that are within my range. As I reach Monday morning, I feel like I deserve a medal resisting temptation and might succumb to weighing myself. Now this is a big danger time for me. If the scales do not reflect a sizeable weight loss, I crash and burn. At this point, I often fall the diet. The scale is a huge weight loss block for me. It’s a trigger for a binge. If I feel emotionally gutted I will turn to some unhealthy food and try to feed this feeling. Chocolate, crisps, (potato chips) and any foods that were forbidden on the particular diet I was following.

 

Now as a therapist working in the weight loss field, I was able to successfully work with this type of emotional binge. I simply stopped weighing myself completely as for me the scale serves no positive purpose. It’s a trigger for a binge. It blocks my progress. I use my clothes sizes to guide me. I find this a very rewarding way to judge my weight loss.

 

Once I overcome the first two weeks, the next hurdle presents itself. My motivation is waning. I start forgetting my goals. Why am I dieting? Am I not good enough the way I am? Will it work anyway? Why am I putting myself through all of this? That little doubting voice is ever present. Throwing up roadblocks. Encouraging me to abandon ship. That little voice is also fuelled with the knowledge of all the previous diet failures. Did I really expect this time to be any different?

 

While working with others on these very issues that I also experienced. I discovered a very interesting pattern.

 

Dieting has a lifecycle like so many other things.

 

 

Emotional Eating

Posted on 28 May, 2015 at 13:45

What is the term to emotionally eat actually mean? There are many strands to emotional eating. This is because we experience such a diverse range of emotions in any one day. It's not the actual emotion that drives us to eat but the learned response to this feeling that is the cause of our using food to respond to certain emotions.

It is easy to identify clear cut strong emotions like grief and loss. I know when i have faced a significant loss in the past, i clearly used food as a way of putting structure in the day when everything seemed to be turned upside down. The ritual of bringing food to the house of the deceased and everyone helping to feed the bereaved is considered in western society as a way of comforting the family through such an emotional time. This ritual is a learned response.

Throughout the normal day, thousands of thoughts pass through your head, a couple of hundred take hold and you focus on that thought. A story develops around it. You might be driving along a country road and notice the sun coming through the trees and for a second you remember a similar scene from the past and instantly, you are back in that past memory, maybe when you were with a loved one who is no longer around or with your children who no longer live at home.

If food was involved with this memory, you might suddenly have the desire for that particular food even though you are not hungry. This is one type of emotional hunger.

If we take the same situation and as we dwell about this past memory, we may feel a pang of loss, reminiscing about your now grown up children and may desire something to eat that you associate with nurturing or maybe a reward food.

In order to change your response to emotional hunger, it is important to become aware of the times when you emotionally eat. Observing yourself without judgement allows to take the first step to overcome this habit. All habits can be broken.

One way of breaking this cycle is to try out new responses to self sooth your emotions. The more different tools and techniques to add to your repertoire, the more successful you will be at changing this response.

You can be as creative as you like. Here are some things that work for me. I also use different techniques for different emotions.

Sadness :- Sometimes I light a candle that represents the flame of the person that i am missing. I take particular care to buy nurturing healthy foods so that i do not add feeling guilty or bad about my food choices to my grief. This might involve asking someone to go to the store for me or I may ask someone to prepare a dish that I know agrees with my body.

Stress at Work:- I make sure to carry a food bag with me to work and no matter how busy I am, I sit down to eat. As a counsellor, I advise people how to manage stress on a daily basis, I try to take my own advice. I used to use sweet things to manage work stress, i would get a temporary high followed by a low in the late afternoon where i would struggle to stay awake. I eventually realised that this sugar rush made things worse for me. I replaced the sweet things with fruit and this worked a treat.

I try to include exercise into my daily life, particularly when my work day is stressful. I also find tapping techniques such as EFT EMDR and particularly WHEE tapping to reduce stress levels dramatically in a very short space of time. I regularly go to the local spa and have a day of pampering. Taking care and managing stress is a multi functioning approach. Stress kills, and should never be ignored or put on the long finger.

Happy Events - Special Occasions - Holidays - I often associate eating with happiness and relaxation. These times often leave more susceptible to emotional eating. My way of addressing these situations is to plan ahead for these special events. I think about what possible food choices and pressures might I face in these situations. I visualize myself already there facing the dilemmas and making choices that i want to make. I imagine myself just after the event and acknowledge how great I feel because I managed to eat to my appetite and stay within a healthy range of food eliminating emotional eating, feeling so proud of myself.

It is very beneficial to enlist the help and support of a friend when learning and re learning about emotional eating and how to successfully negotiate through our emotions and life events. Practice makes perfect. Perfection is imperfection. Awareness is 50% of the solution. Remembering that you eat to live not live to eat.