Monday, May 31, 2010

Strategies for Curbing Emotional Eating for Weight Loss Success

Recently I've been writing about strategies for curbing emotional eating. Of course avoiding emotional eating in the first place is a great strategy...but not always practical or realistic. So if you can't avoid eating for emotional reasons you can at least help curb it, or control it so you don't go off the deep end.

So here's a recap of my top 10 strategies for kicking emotional eating to the curb--
1. Ask Yourself Why
2. No Forbidden Foods
3. Make It Conscious
4. Portion Control
5. Pattern Interrupt
6. Have Healthy Choices Available
7. Work for It
8. Read Labels
9. Go to Sleep
10. Water
Keep in mind that permanent weight loss success is a journey. You didn't get fat overnight...and you won't change the habits you developed that got your fat overnight either.

When you do eat out of stress (or joy or anger or sadness), be gentle with yourself. Remember you are practicing new skills. Don't expect perfection. Find some folks who will support you, who understand that this is temporary. And start your healthy eating habits again as soon as possible.

Remember, you didn't blow a diet if you weren't on a diet in the first place!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Strategy 10 for Curbing Emotional Eating

Like strategy #8, reading labels, this strategy is a habit that I developed years ago as part of my weight loss success plan. I've been pleasantly surprised to find that it also helps me curb my emotional eating.

Strategy #10: Water

I drink a lot of water. I don't drink much else. I do enjoy coffee in the morning and herbal tea from time to time--especially in the winter, but I mostly drink water.

So that's a healthy strategy...but how does water curb emotional eating?

It doesn't...not really...well, maybe it does...let me explain.

If you drink lots of water one of the benefits is that it flushes a bunch of toxins out of your body. That's great news. That way if (when) we do eat for emotional reasons, drinking water will help minimize the negative effects that the overeating has on our body. That's really great news.

Drinking water also helps keep you feeling fuller, so you actually have less room to pack in food. How much can you put in your stomach if you are sloshing with water? Not as it can cut down on the amount of emotional eating you do.

The other way that drinking water can help with emotional eating is if you tend to drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol can loosen up your inner food warden and you might find that you are eating more food and higher calorie food then you would if you didn't have the booze. So by drinking more water, even if you choose to booze, you are diluting the effects of the alcohol, which can help keep you in better control of what you eat.

So, does water help curb emotional eating? I'm going to say yes, and even if it really doesn't, it has enough other good benefits that it still deserves to be in the top 10 strategy list!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

9th Strategy for Curbing Emotional Eating and Achieving Weight Loss Success

This strategy is huge...another simple strategy that if you use it, may be the biggest key to your weight loss success.

Tons (literally) of weight is put on by people because they ignore this strategy.

Strategy #9: Go to Sleep!

Don't eat to stay awake. I know I did it for years! I ate while studying to keep myself awake. I ate while watching late night television. A lot of the time I didn't even realize that I was sleepy...I actually thought I was hungry, or had the munchies.

Most of us do not need to be eating at 9, 10, 11pm or in the wee hours of the morning. Lots of studies have been done that show eating late at night is not only harmful to our weight, it disrupts our healthy sleep patterns. When our sleep is disrupted that makes our emotions more erratic. And erratic emotions lead guessed it, eating!

If you find yourself reaching for a snack late at night...whether you just got in from work or a date, or you are watching tv or playing games...try going to sleep instead of eating. You'll probably feel better the next day because you slept better and you will feel better emotionally because you were in control of your eating, too!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Strategy #8 Simple Weight Loss Success Habit that Also Curbs Emotional Eating

As I mentioned yesterday, this emotional eating strategy is actually a habit I have developed as part of my healthy eating and weight loss success plan. What I realized quite recently was that this same simple habit also was curbing my emotional or stress related eating!

So what is this mystery habit?

Strategy #8: Read Food Labels

You think I'm kidding, right? Confess, you thought is was going to be something deeper or something...but that's it. Frankly, I was as surprised as you are.

You see, reading labels has become a big habit for me. Now I know that ice cream has a gazillion calories and is loaded with fat and all sorts of ingredients that aren't good for me...and I still give myself permission to eat it isn't that I never eat anything that isn't good for me.

What reading labels does is help me to be honest with myself about my choices...and to realize when I thought a food that was healthy for me actually was loaded with sugar or fake ingredients that I choose not to put into my body.

What I found recently was by stopping to read the label on a food I was reaching for I stopped dead in my tracks. I looked at the label and said I really didn't want to put that in my body...I had been reaching for the food out of the cupboard (I was at my mom's, so I had less control over the contents in the cupboard) and when I saw the list of artificial ingredients it was enough to break my emotional reaction.

So by reading the label I interrupted the pattern (strategy #5) and I gave myself the opportunity to make a conscious choice (strategy #3) in this case I chose not to eat, and I also got to ask myself why I was reaching for the food in the first place (strategy #1.)

I thought is was pretty cool how the simple act of reading the label got 3 different strategies involved and helped nip that emotional eating jag in the bud!

Tomorrow's post will cover a strategy that will help lots and lots of people lose weight...just with this one single strategy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Emotional Eating Strategy #7 for Weight Loss Success

As I mentioned yesterday, this is a very simple strategy. It isn't anything new, but it can be very effective.

Strategy #7: Work For It

By that I mean a couple different things. First, like in strategy #4 portion control, make a real meal or snack out of it. Don't eat over the kitchen sink. Use a real plate or bowl...something you have to wash. Use small dishes so you have to actually get more if you want it.

But there is more than that...

If there are foods that are triggers for you then don't have them in the house. That seems super easy, but it isn't. It is super logical and simple concept, but the practice is a lot harder.

When talking about trigger foods, be aware that there are times when you will be able to have that food around and be just fine...but at other times the mere presence of it in the house will be enough to drive you over the edge!

Ice cream is my drug of choice...the darker chocolate the better, loaded with fat and lots of goodies. Now, these days for the most part I can have ice cream in the house and from time to time have a small serving. I generally have a pretty healthy relationship with ice cream these days. But in the beginning, it had such a strong pull on me that I didn't keep it in the house. And even now, there are times when I just know that I'll have an easier time sticking to my weight loss goals if I don't have ice cream around.

If I REALLY want it, I know where the store is!

By not having it in the house you force yourself to take a break and it gives your conscious mind time to kick in and remind you that your goal is to have a healthy, energetic and slender body...and that eating a quart of ice cream is not supportive of that goal. Sometimes that works, sometimes you'll buy it anyway! But you have given yourself the chance to make it a conscious choice, strategy #3!

Tomorrow I will go into the 8th strategy...something that is actually a habit that I've developed for weight loss success that I recently realized was helping me curb my emotional eating!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Emotional Eating Strategy #6

This strategy is a bit different from the previous ones. They dealt mostly with emotions and conscious eating. In a sense, this one does also, but this is about stocking your cupboard so you are prepared for when the urge hits. Because, it will hit, sooner or later!

Strategy #6: Have a Stash of Healthy Choices

I'm not talking about carrot sticks and celery...we all know that is not going to do a thing for you if you are an emotional eater. And frankly, if you ate a pound of carrots rather than chocolate you haven't changed the behavior at even though you would have taken in fewer calories and some nutrients, it really isn't the answer to behavior modification!

What I'm talking about is seeing if there is something that will help you be giving you some emotional satisfaction but perhaps have some nutritional value...or at least less damage!

For example, I'm an ice cream, eating ice milk and low fat ice cream does nothing for satisfying my emotional eating. In fact, if I eat the 1/2 fat stuff I find that I eat twice as much (or more.) In that case I'm better off eating the ice cream I really like and employing some of the other strategies.

What I've done instead is found some chocolately items that taste really good that feel like a treat, but have fewer calories and fat in them. One such treat is dark chocolate covered espresso beans...I can have a few of those and it helps give me the chocolate sensation without a lot of fat. They have the added benefit that I can't physically eat very many of them! I've also found a protein bar that tastes good and gives me a chocolate boost. So while I could still overeat the bars, at least I am getting more balanced nutrition that way.

If chips are your downfall, you may be able to have a baked chip that has less fat and enjoy it with salsa or sliced avocado--which is good fat.

You still want to avoid overeating for emotional reasons, but as I said in strategy #2, having a little "mental health food" is not what made you fat...and it won't keep you fat or make you fat again. We didn't get fat with a few espresso beans once in a while...we got fat by repeatedly not addressing the emotions we were feeling and just stuffing them down with a side of apple pie a la mode!

Be sure to come back tomorrow to see another very simple strategy to help curb your emotional eating and have weight loss success!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

5th Strategy to Kick Emotional Eating to the Curb

I alluded to this 5th strategy in yesterday's strategy on portion control.

I will confess that this strategy is going to be one of the biggest keys to your weight loss success long-term. It is something that a lot of behavior modification coaches there is some real science behind this:

Strategy #5: Pattern Interrupt

Strategies 1, 3 and 4 all help with this, but there are lots of other ways that you can interrupt the emotional eating pattern.

In fact, ANYTHING that you do that stops you from going immediately from one mouthful to the next could be considered a pattern interrupt.

I suggest you come up with a list of things that you can do that might work for you in a variety of situations. For example, you could go outside...but if it is 2am in the middle of a snowstorm that might not be the best option. Call a friend, write in your journal, throw a pillow, pet your dog or cat, go outside and throw rocks, go for a walk, listen to some music, read a book, take a shower, meditate...find simple activities that you can do quickly that help you feel better.

If you want to take the pattern interrupt to the next level you can also use a negative association for when you want to eat...some people wear a rubber band on their wrist that they snap when they have the urge to eat. This small pain can help to remind your brain and body that you don't want to keep at that old habit.

If you decide to do that, then as soon as you go to the new behavior, then gently stroke the same wrist so you are giving your body a positive reinforcement as well. The combination of the positive and negative is far more affective than either positive or negative by itself.

The most important thing about this pattern interrupt is to have a list handy so you don't have to take a lot of time thinking about what you COULD do...and have any "tools" you might need ready as well. So if going for a walk is one of your choices, keep a pair of shoes ready by the door so you can put them on and go.

Write your own list and keep it handy...maybe right on the cupboard or the fridge! There are no rules about what can be on the can be anything not food/drink related that will help you break that eating cycle.

Tomorrow we move to the 2nd half of my strategies for kicking emotional eating to the curb!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Curb Emotional Eating Strategy #4

This very simple strategy can really is so simple that you might not believe that it will work, so hear me out...and try it, before you say it won't work. You just might be surprised!

Strategy #4 Use Small Bowls or Plates

This strategy is about controlling the quantity we eat by controlling portion size.

Think about it...when you go on an emotional eating bender, how do you eat? I know I tend to eat right out of the cream by the half gallon, cookies by the box, chips by the bag.

That makes it so easy to eat a lot more...instead serve yourself a dish. Don't eat at the kitchen sink, sit yourself down and make it a real snack, with things you have to wash.

Sure you can always go back for more, but the act of dishing the food up does a few things for controls your initial portion (which might just turn out to be enough, thank you very much!), and by forcing you to return to the kitchen to get more you are buying your brain time to kick in and say, hey...I don't really want more of that.

By making it a more formal event, by sitting down and eating, then you are also using strategy #3, which if you recall from yesterday was making your eating a conscious decision.

In addition, it also reinforces that you have permission to eat this treat because you have given it "meal" treatment, with a plate or bowl and spoon or fork.

So this deceptively simple strategy actually incorporates 3 strategies in 1. Not bad! In also works in a 4th strategy...strategy #5, which we'll go into more detail on tomorrow!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Curbing Emotional Eating

If you want to read a summary of my top 10 strategies for curbing emotional eating, you can check out my article now. Be sure to read my blog posts for more details on each strategy!

As Featured On EzineArticles

To your healthy, energetic, slender body! You deserve it!

Kick Emotional Eating to the Curb Strategy #3

This strategy is all about stopping unconscious eating...which I believe is really the main reason most of us get fat. Our overeating may have an emotional trigger, but it is the fact that we keep eating without thinking about it that packs on the pounds.

Strategy #3:
Make Eating a Conscious Choice

Stop before you reach for that food. Stop before you take the first bite. Stop before you take the next bite. Stop between every bite.

Every time you stop, ask yourself if this is really what you want to do. Is this food the best choice for your body? Do you really want to keep eating it?

When you get the smallest inkling that the answer to any of these questions is no then stop--immediately. That stop may be only for a split second some times...other times it might be for a few other times it may be for hours or even days.

This isn't about will power...this is about loving yourself enough to take the time to listen to your own body, mind and spirit...and to figure out what you really want!

The truth is, stuffing down the food is the easy answer sometimes...but it usually isn't what we want, at least not in massive quantities.

Come back tomorrow for the 4th in our series on emotional eating strategies...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2nd Top Strategy to Curb Emotional Eating

You've probably heard me talk about this one before...but it is such an important strategy, not just for emotional eating binges, but for all weight loss success efforts that it bears repeating!

No Forbidden Foods

In other words, give yourself a little permission to eat like a human!

By putting foods and emotional eating entirely on a taboo list you add guilt to the act of eating. That only makes us want to eat more because now we have another emotional reason to eat!

Besides, having foods "off-limits" really gets to the little kid inside us...and we all remember when we were kids and told we couldn't have or do something, right? We just wanted it all the more!

By giving yourself permission to take away the guilt--and the need to hide your eating!

Let yourself have small portions of special treats. A little "mental health food" is not going to make you is repeated doses of quantities of food as medication that does that.

Check back tomorrow for strategy #3...

Friday, May 21, 2010

#1 Strategy to Curb Emotional Eating

Despite our past success, despite our best intentions, emotional eating sometimes rears its ugly head. This can be scary if you have lost weight...the fear that the weight will all come back is very real, and unfortunately can cause even more emotional eating.

Look, if we continue with the habits that got us fat in the first place, then we will remain fat, or become fat again if we have succeeded in losing weight.

This is the start in a series on strategies that I have developed that help me to nip the emotional eating in the bud. (Hey, I'm human...sometimes these work better than others! But they do work, if you use them!)

The #1 strategy may actually help you stop the binge BEFORE IT STARTS...I call it a binge, because even if you don't eat massive quantities of food, that is essentially what emotional eating is in my book.

So what is this secret weapon? It is really a simple question.

Ask yourself why you want to eat.

Simple question, not necessarily easy to answer, but this is where you want to start.

Face it, if you are looking in the fridge or cupboard and just don't know what you want to eat, chances are pretty good that you aren't really hungry--not physically. Try to determine what is the reason behind the urge to eat.

Just taking the time to think about it, might stop you from eating. It gives your brain a chance to click in.

And, if you figure out that you are reaching for that bag of chips because you had a fight with your boss (or partner/best friend/kid...) then you have the chance to take a different action.

Now you can determine if you really want to eat in response to that feeling or if there is a better way to resolve the situation.

You may still choose to self-medicate...but at least you have made it a conscious choice. And really, if we want to be permanently healthy, then we deserve to learn how to handle our emotions with out self-medicating!

Come back for strategy #2...another weight loss success tip that I use to help prevent binges!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Biggest Loser, Stress Eating and Weight Loss Success

I really felt for Daris, one of the final 4 on the Biggest Loser Television Show. He was shown on the "confession cam" eating late at night. He knew better, but was choosing to deal with his emotions by eating.

I just got back from a visit to my mother' I completely understand the stress that being at home entails. It is not easy to change our emotional patterns...but we must learn to change our reactions to our emotions if we want to keep our weight loss success permanently!

Like Daris, I also ate to soothe my emotions. I am also determined that I will not allow a few nights of eating ice cream spoil what I have accomplished.

I know that I deserve to have a healthy, slender body. I know I feel better physically and emotionally when I eat well. I also know there is room in a healthy eating plan for some of my favorite treats...and I also know that I am human and not perfect!

Truth is, it was my desire for perfection (ironically) that helped me to obesity in the first place. So by letting go of the need to be perfect, to allow for human failings (now, if they are human are they really failings???) I cut myself a little slack and will then be able to get back on the horse, moving my body, making healthy food choices and loving this work in progress!

Because I know that Daris and I are not the only ones on this planet to resort to emotional eating, I have come up with some strategies that will help curb the binge.

I'll write more about these strategies over the coming days and I would love to hear from you which strategies work for you...and what strategies you have for stopping emotional eating in its tracks!

Check back tomorrow for the #1 strategy...this biggee might just stop your binge before it even starts!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You Can't Wish Weight Loss Success on Anyone

We all want to be healthy, don't we?

We say we do, but if that is true, then why do we ever allow ourselves to become obese?

And once we find ourselves in that situation...somehow magically (black magic, it would seem) transported into this immense body, why don't we simply make the changes necessary to achieve our weight loss goals?

And, better come our husband (or wife, or best friend or kids) don't?

If you know someone who is obese then you probably have asked yourself something like, why doesn't he/she lose weight? After all, you love want them around for a long time. You may even have great fear for their health and their life because of their weight.

No matter how much you love them, you cannot will them to take responsibility for their lives. You cannot convince them to lose weight. You can't bargain with God to have them see the light and change their ways.

And that's a good thing.

That's good because that means we are each 100% responsible for our own lives...we aren't victims of someone else's wishes and desires.

After all, if I could wish someone to thinness then I could wish them to fatness, too!

So while you can't force someone else to be healthy, you can love them and help them to feel loved and valued. And you can hold in your heart the vision of them as you want to see them...healthy, energetic, vibrant. And you can be sure that you are modeling the behaviors that will enable them (and yourself) to have that healthy body, too.

Then it is up to them if they want to pick up that image or wallow in their false mirror of fatness.

We just never know what is going on in someone else's life...what demons they are facing...what pain they are experiencing.

Until the time is right for them, they won't have success at weight loss, as hard as they try. They might have temporary success...but the weight will just come back unless the issues behind the weight are resolved...and statistically the chances are they will end up heavier than when they started if they try to diet their way to slenderness.

Worrying about their health is natural because you care about them. But worrying about it, talking about it, does not help either of you.

Love and encourage...model healthy joyful, happy and healthy yourself...and see them as whole and healthy people.

Then leave it up to them to live into that!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yosemite and You: National Treasures

I was seated next to a delightful woman from Oklahoma on the flight to visit my mom the other day. Now normally I am pretty quiet on planes. I'm friendly, but I generally stick my nose in a magazine or a book. This flight was different.

I don't remember how we first started talking, how the connection was made. Some trivial thing, I'm sure. But shortly into the flight we were talking like we had known each other for years. Frankly, I've never had an experience on a plane quite like it!

Not only did the flight go by more quickly, it was exciting and fun...and we saw things out the window that so amazing...I've done this flight Denver to San Jose hundreds of times over the years, but this was the very first time I could actually see (and recognize) Yosemite National Park from the air! I was so excited! I could really see the valley, Half Dome and even Yosemite Falls! I don't know if we were closer to the Park then I've ever been, if the air was more clear, or if it was a combination of both...but there it was...revealed...

What does this have to do with weight loss? Why am I writing about an airplane ride and seeing Yosemite?

Because, weight loss success is often like seeing Yosemite from the air. It has always been POSSIBLE to see the Park...I mean, it was always THERE...just sometimes it was hidden beneath clouds or atmosphere, or we were just a bit too far away...or I was preoccupied by a book and didn't notice.

Losing weight and achieving our ideal body is like that. It has always been possible to drop fat and improve our health...but sometimes it SEEMS like that goal is unattainable...the body we want is hidden from our view by excess fat, weight loss success is clouded by cravings and habits...our goal seems too big, too far away...or life just gets in the way and we don't have (or take) the time to see the possibility.

Take a few minutes today and think about what is keeping you from seeing your own What are the clouds that are hiding your personal treasure (a healthy, energetic body)? What is keeping that goal out of your reach? What are you allowing to keep you from seeing the beauty that you have inside? Are you taking the time to even be open to the possibility that it is there, or are you so busy focusing on other things that you don't even recognize the gem that YOU are?

You are every bit as beautiful as our National Parks. You are just as valuable. Just like each Park has its own personality and points of beauty, so do each of us. It isn't our job to all become Yosemite...some of us are Rocky Mountains or Sea Shores or Deserts or Old Faithful!

It is our job to recognize that what makes us different is what makes us special, and the world deserves to see and experience us for our uniqueness...just like the world deserves the opportunity to experience a broad range of beautiful places.

Figure out why you are hiding your treasure. Decide that you are worth a little spit and polish. Then take small steps every day to get our next great national treasure in shape--YOU!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day: the Best Gift

Happy Mother's Day everyone! Whether you celebrate your mother or are being celebrated, make it a great day and give yourself and your family the best gift--the gift of health.

I'm writing this from my own mother's house...and I am feeling especially grateful for her presence. Having lost my dad 3 years ago (can it really be that long?) I am thankful for every day that I get to say I love you to my mom...even when she frustrates me or confuses me! I think it is easy for us to expect that they will always be there...even though in our heads we know that isn't reality, we tend to think of all the people in our lives this way. Our friends and loved ones will always be there...that's what we believe...until something comes up to slap us in the face to let us know that, at least in this physical world, that isn't how it works!

What you may not have thought about, is that is how people feel about you, too! People care about you and just expect that you are going to be there forever.

So, let's give each other the absolute best gift we can--the gift of health.

It is up to each of us to decide that we are worth taking the time to be healthy. The irony of this "selfish" decision is that by choosing to be healthy we are dramatically increasing the odds that we will be around longer for the ones we love...for the folks who want us around, and for those who depend on us being around.

This Mother's Day, take a walk together, laugh together. Celebrate each other, walk down memory lane. Take this opportunity to really connect with another human being... And of course, eat together, too.

Enjoy the fresh air, the flowers...and even the chocolates. A healthy, balanced life is not about giving up all treats is about taking small steps every day to improve your enjoy a chocolate or two,just not the entire box!

To your healthy, energetic, slender body--this Mother's Day and every day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Affirmations and Cruising for Weight Loss Success

I have been using affirmations as one of my key success tools on this weight loss journey.

Not only have the affirmations helped me change many of the negative messages I was sending myself (I'm a work in I still have some negative messages to iron out!) but they have also helped heal my body as I dropped over 125lbs.

One of my favorite teachers is Louise Hay. Her style of affirmations and self-love really resonates with me. Hence, I recommend her books, CDs and movies as great tools...for anyone wanting to lose weight--even though they are not specifically aimed at that goal--or to improve their lives in any way.

I wanted to let you know that I found out that Louise is offering a contest to go on a cruise with her in Jan 2011, and having a sale on many of her products.

So if you have been thinking about buying any of Louise's works, click on the banner below to be sure to get the best price AND be entered into a drawing for the cruise!

To your health & Bon Voyage!

Hay House, Inc. 180x150