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  1. Linda

    I was really looking forward to reading the second part of this post and am so disappointed! I was really anticipating some solid suggestions for how to handle those negative emotions.
    We need to build new habits to stop overeating, yes, but what habits?I understand what you are saying here in your three points…but please give us more concrete help here! Especially if you are the professionals!
    Point 1: Okay my brain is a spoiled brat and screams at me to eat because of emotion. Yes. So? I realize that…you are telling me to ignore my emotions and just not eat? If I could do that, I wouldn’t be here in the first place.
    Point 2: Separate myself from urges, like a kid throwing a tantrum in the toy store…do you have children? Yes, I can remove my child from the toy store without buying him whatever toy, but 9 times out of 10 he will still scream and be even grumpier for a good while after we leave the store unless I distract him…What help do you have for that?
    Point 3: Don’t emotionally react…to what? my emotions? Um…what? or do you mean not to react to the urge to eat i.e. don’t give in…that’s what you said in points 1 and 2.
    What you have given us is what NOT to do. Don’t give in….I’ve gotten this advice before and I already try to do those things and am fairly successful most of the time…but what I really needed to hear was what to do with the negative emotions INSTEAD of eating.
    Honestly, as a professional, you should know that we can’t just break habits…we must replace them with better habits.
    As I said, I’m disappointed. I expected better from you guys.

    1. Hallie Falquet Sovesky
      Hallie Falquet Sovesky

      Hi Linda, Sorry you’re not happy with Nick’s advice. He’s out of the office at a conference for a few days, but will respond shortly. Thanks, as always, for your feedback!

    2. Hallie Falquet Sovesky
      Hallie Falquet Sovesky

      This response is from Nick Frye:

      Hello! I am so sorry that you weren’t happy with my recommendations. I’d be happy to try and clarify a few things because if this is a struggle for you them I truly want to help.

      So, it appears we are talking about two separate things here. This blog post deals specifically with how to deal with those overwhelming urges we experience to overeat in the face of negative emotions with the three step process of viewing those urges as essentially meaningless (because those urges are only your brain trying to maintain an unhealthy habit), separating or detaching yourself from those urges (another way to think of this would be to view these urges as ocean waves and instead of being out in the surf trying to fight them, you’re observing them from the safety of the beach), and not reacting emotionally to those urges such by getting frustrated or upset because we have these urges (to clarify, I do not mean not emotionally reacting to your emotions).

      However, it appears that your challenge is not necessarily dealing with the urges to overeat but dealing with those unpleasant and uncomfortable emotions you experience. Is this right? If so, then this is a whole different ball of wax. Dealing with negative emotions directly is not about ignoring, suppressing, controlling, or eliminating them as that only serves to make them more intense and distressing! However, this is how we’ve been taught to deal with our emotions… for example, someone might tell you “Don’t feel sad.” But… that’s how I feel! Or we might have learned to just keep busy in order to distract ourselves from how we feel. But… that only works temporarily! Or perhaps we try to think our way out of feeling bad by saying to ourselves “You shouldn’t feel bad, you know how many other people have it worse that you?” But… that only makes me feel even worse! The challenging and difficult thing about dealing with negative emotions is that we have to learn how to actually experience them as opposed to trying to avoid them or make them go away. This is often called ‘acceptance.’

      Acceptance means opening up and making room for painful feelings and sensations. You can learn how to drop the struggle with them, give them some breathing space, and let them be there without getting all caught up in them, or overwhelmed by them; the more you can open up, and give them room to move, the easier it is for your feelings to come and go without draining you or holding you back. You don’t have to like or want these feelings – you just make room for them and allow them to be there even though they are unpleasant. Once this skill is learned, if these feelings should resurface, you can rapidly make room for them and let them ‘flow on by’ – so you can invest your time and energy in doing meaningful life-enhancing activities, instead of struggling. This takes practice!

      Here’s an acceptance technique that you might find helpful, it’s called “The Curious Scientist.” When you’re experiencing a negative emotion notice where the feeling is in your body. Zoom in on it. Observe it as if you’re a curious scientist who has never encountered anything like this before. Where does it start and stop? Is it moving or staying still? Is it at the surface or deep inside you? Is it light or heavy? Observing the negative emotion allows you to experience it without getting overwhelmed by it.

      For example, here’s what I do when I experience anxiety. I notice that my anxiety is in my stomach. I zoom in on it. It stays in my gut region but it swirls and gurgles around deep in my stomach. It feels very heavy and nauseating. I observe and allow this feeling to be there. I let myself experience it and show myself compassion reminding myself that this is a normal experience. Then I bring my awareness back to what I was doing.

      Okay, I hope this response was helpful for you and that it helps to clarify my blog post as well. Should you have any further questions please feel free to write another comment. Thanks!

  2. Deborah Moerschel

    Thanks, Nick, this was to the point in a nut shell and I like that. Tho it isn’t easy to do, it takes time and the right books to read that have helped me to mature emotionally. You have said it simply and I’m glad I have taken time to work on my mind, realizing ‘what’ I think & ‘why’ I think the way I always have. Think good thoughts about yourself and think on what is right and not what is wrong helps me enjoy a successful day.

    Having a health coach/mentor is vital to my success. Finding grace and patience for myself is key because I have (and still do) always ‘helped’ people first. It is time to start making myself a priority in order to gain ground. I am so glad I started this journey of helping ‘me’ because my physical health definitely comes from my mental health!

    Keep up the 2 min. video, Nick, they speak loudly! Thank you :)

  3. Rebecca Hawley

    I agree with Linda. The “just get over it” attitude is not particularly helpful. I am trying to write about what I am feeling in my journal first, and then give myself full permission to eat after doing that, if I still want to. The idea for me is to have a choice, to be able to respond rather than just react, and keep the negativity to a minimum.

  4. Patty Sherin

    Thank you for an amazing thread! Changing ones habits are never an easy thing, it takes work and knowing thyself. Not an easy task. With that said, each and every one of us is capable of amazing potential with faith, practice and study. Faith in oneself to overcome any obstacle. Practice, practice, practice. Always learning and trying new things and never giving up! Believe in yourself, and take action.

  5. lorollee

    Thanks to Linda for speaking up! Nicks response after her question really opened up what he was initially saying. My emotional triggers stem from childhood sexual abuse, over a period of 10 years, and I find myself resorting to food, anytime someone says something negative about my body, I t might simply be something like, “You would be a beautiful girl, sexually attractive, if you list weight,”. I find myself running to food and I can scarf an entire tub of fried chicken. I may not feel good afterwards, but it helps full the pain. I was doing really well on Medifast, u til someone said to me that I was finally starting to look sexually attractive, and I shut down and gained.

    How does one change that behavior?

    1. carol usher

      It just dawned on me why I WAS an emotional eater. It did START in childhood when I felt unloved by my parents. I was the scapegoat child:( I will let go of the past & start a new journey:) You helped me see where my old problem originated. I am positive NOW & in the future. I will change my thinking & confront the food enemy I once had. I do have faith & have told people to have faith many times & now I can treat myself as nicely & kindly as I have treated others:) Always putting myself last in the past. Everyday is a new day:)

  6. carol usher

    My doctor told me to lose weight. I replied, ”I’m an emotional eater.” He gave me a blank look! Nothing more was said. Thank-you for this small article. I will use the advice. I’m dealing with a bratty grandson & can see the same reactions I have with food. I’m making a copy of this article & will read it whenever I have an emotional upset that USE to drive me to the refrigerator for comfort:( I never thought of food as a spoiled brat-great advice:) I am not letting my grandson control me & will think of the food the same way. I will not turn to food for the answer to my emotions:)

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