Let’s look at sneaky self sabotage and what to do about it.
While I’ve know for a long time that I’m an emotional eater (who hasn’t reached for a pint of Häagen Dazs® after a break up?) I never knew I was sabotaging myself with food in this very sneaky way…
Before I go on, there are two things you should know about me: number one, I’m Italian. So you know food is important! Nothing could fix a problem like my Mother’s lasagna, and don’t even get me started on the perfection of her cheesecake.
The second thing is: I have severe and extensive food allergies and right now my diet is about as exciting as beige carpeting. No grains, no dairy, no sugar… I’m even allergic to things like oregano and cinnamon. B-O-R-I-N-G! Plus, I’m super busy, so I don’t spend a lot of time hunting up new and exciting ways to eat the same 10 foods. (OK, I’m exaggerating, but not by much.)
Anyway, I work hard all day and at night I want to treat myself and I’ve realized lately that I’m doing it with food. Except that while the food may taste great at the time (organic dark chocolate) or be a texture I crave (crunchy potato chips) I’m actually making myself feel worse in the long run. I’m eating too much, too soon before bed and I’m waking up feeling bloated and groggy. And not feeling to good about my self either. My treat is more like a nasty trick!
The answer is, obviously: Stop Doing That. But it’s not that easy, at least not for me. I grew up thinking of food as a way of treating, rewarding, and soothing myself and that’s a habit that’s hard to break. Of course I’d like to let go of all my emotional eating, but I’m not ready for that right now. What I am ready for is getting ready to be ready, which is a very real and important step.
Here’s what I doing now. Maybe some of these ideas will work for you. I’m especially excited to tell you about #4, which is working great for me! (And it comes with a free Guide.)
#1 Identify Your Pattern
I overeat or eat the wrong foods at night when I don’t have a healthy dinner planned, after a long day of work without enough breaks, and if I’m just sitting watching a movie. Figuring out what your triggers are is the first step.
#2 Be Compassionate Toward Yourself
Beating myself up over this recurring pattern will only make me feel bad and that will lead to…. you guessed it… more emotional eating! Instead, I try to treat myself gently. I separate ME from my CHOICES, and love myself while I’m making changes. (Do not underestimate this step! Only with self compassion can old habits be changed forever.)
#3 Find Healthy Substitutes
Knowing that I’ll never completely stop rewarding myself with food, I’ve figured out some healthy alternatives, like grain-free, vegan Carob Almond Cookies, and I keep a supply on hand for dessert. I also plan evening activities that I enjoy, and that get me out of the kitchen.
#4 Craft An Affirmation To Energize The Change Process
Affirmations — positive, present-centered statements — can empower you to change your behavior by calling you forward into your next best self. They declare who you are becoming in a way that draws you into that excellence. The affirmation I’m working with now is, “I treat myself without hurting myself.” When I say it to myself as I head for the kitchen, it inspires me to be kind to myself while still acknowledging that I’m going to give myself a treat. I want to return to a healthy pattern of not needing the food treat, but that’s just not my growing edge yet and I honor that.
#5 Get To The Underlying Feelings And Deal With Them
Taking a bit more control of the situation, using the 4 steps above, helps me have space to see and feel my deeper feelings and motives for emotional eating. I can then journal about them, or talk them over with a friend.
If you need help processing feelings, or making better choices, we can set up a coaching session to help with that. Often one session can get you well on your way.
I’d love to know if you resonate with any of this. What are you struggling with around food and dealing with stress? Do any of the 5 steps above seem like they might help? Leave your comments below.
All my best,
p.s. For a real treat, join us in our new series on Facebook called Simple, Grateful, and Free.