Recently I ran a poll in my free facebook group – Health, Fitness and Weight Loss for Women (click HERE to come and join).
The question I asked was ‘What is your biggest struggle when it comes to weight loss?’
By far the most common struggle?
You’ve probably experienced this too right?
I know I have!
You’re sailing along in life, all is ok, you’re in control. And then BAM! Something happens, someone upsets you, or you’re just generally feeling tired and stressed out, and the food in the cupboards starts calling.
You have an overpowering urge to eat that seems to come from nowhere. Driven to the cupboards, you devour your fat and calorie-laden food of choice without barely pausing for breath, briefly enjoy the sweet, sugary comfort, and then feel sick and even more upset, now with yourself for overeating something you didn’t need.
It’s such a common problem. I’ve written up a collection of some of the most useful tips I’ve found that have helped me and my clients when this situation occurs. There’s loads of tips out there and some will resonate more than others. Let me know if these tips help you, or if there are any more you think should be added. The key thing is to pick something you think will work for you, and then keep doing it! It won’t work perfectly every time, but with consistency, you will get better and better at recognising and preventing emotional eating.
Firstly, an important thing to remember is that the urge to eat in response to an emotional problem is just your subconscious mind reacting instinctively. It’s totally normal and nothing to feel ashamed of.
Your subconscious just doesn’t like to feel upset. And it knows from many previous experiences that certain foods make you feel really good. So the easiest and quickest solution is to create an urge to eat those foods and immediately get rid of the bad feelings.
But your subconscious can’t forsee the fact that you’ll actually feel worse after, because you ate excess calories when you didn’t need to, and the original problem is still there. This is where you need your conscious mind to step in and direct the situation. Here’s a few ways you can do this:
– Know when it’s happening. If you get an urge to eat food, stop and think for a second. Are you physically hungry? Or are you feeling bored / stressed / unsettled in some way? Picture yourself eating something you wouldn’t normally go for, like raw broccoli. Would you eat that right now? If you wouldn’t, it might not be physical hunger you’re experiencing.
– Have a clear vision that you’re working towards. I can’t stress enough how helpful it is to have something with a time frame that you are working towards – anything from 4 to 12 weeks works best. This is a close target enough to keep you motivated. You need to be able to picture it clearly and feel excited about achieving it. In the moment of temptation to emotionally eat, thinking deeply about your vision can help. The feeling of achieving that will be a lot better than the very temporary relief of that bar of chocolate…
– Stop for a second and visualise the two possible outcomes of either eating the food or choosing to walk away. Picture how eating this food is going to make you feel. You know the effects it will have. See and feel yourself feeling a little sick and worse than you do now if you eat the food. Then see yourself moving away, leaving it behind and feeling proud for not having it.
– Remember the food you’re craving will still be there later or tomorrow. No food is going out of existence any time soon. If it’s something you like, don’t waste it by eating it when you’re not really going to enjoy it and are then going to feel bad about it after. It will be there later and you’ll enjoy it so much more when your body is truly hungry for it.
– Do something else that makes you feel good – have a few photos saved on your phone that make you feel really happy, or a favourite song that makes you feel good. Ring a friend, play with the dog, hug your kids, anything that lifts your mood a little and distracts your thoughts from food.
– Distance yourself from the food – if you’re at home, go out for a walk or just go into another room and make yourself busy. If you’re out at a buffet, go into a different room.
– If something has JUST happened to upset you, take 10 deep breaths before you decide to do anything. By then you should already feel a little calmer and be able to think a bit more clearly.
– Don’t keep foods that you are prone to overeating in the house. If your partner had chocolate, ask them to keep it elsewhere. If you ‘need’ to keep sweets in the house for your kids buy things that they like but you’re not so keen on, so you’re less tempted.
– Address the underlying causes – what’s one thing you can do to improve this situation in some way, and reduce the likelihood of it happening again?
– Take care of yourself and your body – make sure you are getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water throughout the day and exercising regularly.
– Commit to reading books or listening to podcasts / audiobooks that teach you about mindset and how to control and improve it. I honestly believe everyone would benefit from this. Ask me if you need some recommendations! The books in this photo are some of my favourites:
Hayley Plummer – Personal Trainer who coaches women to health, fitness and fat loss. Based in Haywards Heath, Sussex
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