Thursday, April 15, 2010

Curbing Emotional Eating Starts By Recognizing It Is Happening

It is quite possible for us to put blinders on when it comes to our eating patterns. We might not recognize that we have fallen into an unhealthy eating pattern...and if we are challenged on our belief...if some confronts us with "evidence" that we aren't eating healthy we often become defensive or don't believe them.

This is because of two is that we are really behaving in a way that is consistent with other words, food is our drug of choice. We don't want to give up our narcotic that helps us get through our day any more than a cocaine user wants to give up that drug. The biggest difference, of course, is that the cocaine user doesn't literally have to use their drug in order to live...once they are off the drug, they can steer clear of it and never have to be around it. Hard? Yes. Challenging? Of course. Possible? Definitely.

Not so with a food addict. We must eat in order to live, so we must learn to deal with our addiction in a different way. But this is not necessarily a bad thing!

The cocaine addict could stop using cocaine and then merely substitute the narcotic for some other rather than relapse with the same drug, they may begin to abuse alcohol or become a compulsive shopper.

The same is true with a person with a food addiction, of course, but because food is always around us and is relatively inexpensive, easy to get, and more or less socially acceptable, it is easy to see formerly fat people put it all back on again.

No matter what your addiction is, to really stop the behavior (and not substitute it with another addiction) you must address the core issue. What is the emotion that is triggering the eating?

In order to help determine that you must first recognize that the emotional eating is even happening! Rather than restricting your calories, take this as a first step--write down everything that you eat and drink for an entire week.

But don't stop there.

Write how you are feeling...before you ate, while you were eating and afterward.

Don't judge what you eat. Don't judge the emotions. Act as much like an independent observer as possible.

This is what I refer to as your "benchmark"...establishing where you are right now. This is the only way to truly make changes. Recognize where you are so you can consciously choose to change...but the conscious choices and changes is another step!

For the next week, carry a notebook or pad of paper with you. Write down EVERYTHING...every stick of gum, every handful of M&Ms...whatever...write it down. How much water you full you feel after you eat...what thoughts ran through your head as you ate. Don't censor, just write it down. This is the first step to stopping emotional eating--to figure out that it is actually happening...when, where, why.

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