What can we do about it?
In part one of this post we learned that emotional overeating is such a challenge for many of us because we develop a habit that triggers an urge to overeat any time we feel negative or painful emotions. Therefore, we have to learn how to deal with our urges to overeat to free ourselves of the emotional overeating habit.
Here’s how we do that:
- View any urge you experience to overeat as essentially meaningless. You can think of your brain as a spoiled brat and it’s demanding that you overeat: “I feel sad! Eat!” “I feel stressed! Eat!” “I feel angry! Eat!” But this brat is not really you because you are not your habits!
- Separate yourself from urges. This would be like watching a child throw a temper tantrum in a toy store. They can cry and scream all they want, but the best way to get them to stop is to be aware of but not pay attention to or give in to their demands. You want to look at your urges the same way–as a detached observer.
- Don’t emotionally react to any urge. When you react emotionally to an urge that only gives the spoiled brat power, strength, and the ability to dictate your actions. When we become mad (“I hate having these urges to overeat!”), frustrated (“I’m doing what I’m supposed to, why don’t these urges go away?!”), sad (“Poor me, I’m an emotional eater and I’ll never change.”), or anxious (“I’m scared that I will be an emotional eater forever.”) then these urges will take over your entire state of mind and lead you right to food.
When you can see your urges to overeat in the presence of strong emotions as essentially meaningless, separate yourself from those urges as if you’re a detached observer, and stop reacting emotionally to these urges then you can stop acting on your urges. By repeatedly not acting on your urges to overeat, then you will free yourself from the emotional overeating habit.
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.
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!
This response is from Nick Frye:
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
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.
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.
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?
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:)
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:)