How to Focus on One Change at a Time and Stop Emotional Eating


Being overwhelmed is a close companion of emotional eating.

It often leads to procrastination, waiting until tomorrow to start your next diet, health kick or exercise plan. Emotional eating takes over when you need a break from stress and need to feel calmer and more in control.

The irony is that in the long run emotional eating moves you further away from what you want.

When you feel like there’s too much to manage and you’re confused and frustrated about where to start, it’s an awful feeling.  It’s so much easier to forget about everything when it’s all mixed up together in one big tangled ball.

One way to regain control is to narrow down your focus.

Choose one thing that might make it better.

Focus your energy on it until you’ve got it.

Then move on to the next part. You’re not forgetting about the other things that need your attention, you’re setting limits and doing what you can when you can. This is a useful strategy.

For many people who turn to emotional eating, a new diet or gym feels like the right answer.

It makes logical sense.

You don’t like the way you look or feel, then do something about it is a common view.

Emotional eating includes eating too much,  not eating the things you want because of some misguided belief or not eating the things that help you feel good and able to think clearly.

It’s easy to grab onto a diet of any sort when you want relief. Easy direction. Easy rules. Problem is, it’s somebody else’s solution.

Lifestyle change – too much too soon

Making a change is uncomfortable. Think about a time when you moved, switched jobs or school, got a new roommate, got married, etc.

These were times when you’re required to make the change and be done with it.

There’s an end to an old way and the beginning of a new way.

You’re discovering what the new routines are, what new people are like, what a new climate is like, what the new expectations are, etc. Bit by bit you get more information and knowledge about the situation and make little decisions about what you like or don’t like.

If you choose to make a change, make it well thought out and with a plan put in place.

The funny thing is when we make changes for our health, often, they are made quickly without surveying all the options in an in-depth way.

We look at a magazine cover or a pop-up ad or base a decision on the latest fad a friend has been successful with – which is usually measured in pounds.

A check-up with the physician brings warnings, concerns or bad news about your health and suddenly it’s time to turn it around. The focus for changing your health means eating better and getting more exercise.

Unfortunately, taking care of your emotional health is forgotten.

The trouble is when anyone makes changes that are opposite of what they usually do, it’s hard to maintain.    You haven’t developed a framework to support the changes. There are lots of little shifts which all add context, new skills and most importantly a mindset shift to sustain the change over time.     This is where Conscious Eating supports your success.

Integration over time is more long lasting.

When you make smaller changes, planned and supported with a structure for success you give yourself the opportunity for long lasting change. You’re able to make a plan and intergrade changes over time.

You’ll see what works, what needs to shift and what you enjoy. You’ll also get to know what you may not enthusiastically enjoy, but know that it supports you in ways that make the sacrifice valuable. This is the opposite of the emotional eating-diet-feel bad cycle.

Getting to know yourself better and knowing your boundaries makes life more comfortable in the long run.

Focusing on one thing allows you to take the time and attention you need for the change to stick. Slowing down may be the key to getting what you want faster.

If you allow yourself to truly understand your own needs, try some new ways of handling stress, identifying feelings in a way you hadn’t thought of before and practicing integrating the new awareness into your life in meaningful ways. How to manage change and shift your mindset.

Choosing to shift the way you relate to yourself, free from impulsive decisions, requires a bit of planning. Taking good care of yourself is what you’re doing.

One of the biggest benefits of working with yourself to be a better you are that the changes come from within. Mindset change is you deciding to think about things differently.

A growth mindset.

A growth mindset is the reward for your hard work – living in the present with acceptance of where you are and hoping that the future is filled from the benefits of your hard work and growth.

The first step is to break down your goal into more manageable parts. The adage, you can’t run before you learn to walk fits here.

It’s OK to start where you are and break it down to see where you need to go. This allows you time and space to re-set your course when needed. You’ll gain valuable information about what works for you in your specific situation.

You’ll gain confidence as you try new options that it’s OK to experiment and see what works. Everything won’t be a success and that’s OK. Now you know, and hopefully as you experiment, you’ll generate new ideas that might work better.

Want the whole enchilada? Here’s a plan to get you started.

Think about the whole enchilada.

It’s made up of many parts. Of course, there’s the corn tortilla that wraps around and encases the filling. It holds the filling together.

It wouldn’t be an enchilada without the corn tortilla, it probably would be delicious in its own right but it would be something different like perhaps a tamale or a flauta (flour tortilla) or something else. We must have the corn tortilla to hold it all together.

So, let’s say that your overall goal is like the corn tortilla. This is what is keeping you moving forward. It gives the structure and boundaries, like the corn tortilla to the enchilada.

Perhaps a goal would be, “I want to move through sadness, no longer getting stuck for days and I want to change the automatic behavior from feeling down to eating chocolate.”

This is a common struggle and you can change it, especially with a Conscious Eating plan.

This is kind of a vague goal though.

Yes, it’s clear on the intention you would like to achieve, but it doesn’t have a specific action or series of actions like a pathway to get you there. So, you might grab ahold of the clearest path you can find.

You might think, if I get on a diet or plan, it will help me control myself. I just need someone to tell me what to do because I’ve failed myself so many times.

This is where the illusion of dieting is at its most harmful. It’s like a pretty shiny object that you want to touch. The only thing is that when you get close you realize that it’s just a Styrofoam ball covered in glitter – it looks pretty at a distance, but there isn’t any real substance underneath the sparkles.

What you need is to fill up that enchilada with some hearty fillings. You need a good protein source that tastes good to you and fills your body with the protein it needs. You need some veggies for crunch, interest, and flavor. Of course, you need the spices too! You also need sauce and cheese to round things out and marry it all together.

The Whole Enchilada- Focus on one thing workflow-

Corn Tortilla – Choose what you need structure around. Think about your desired result.

The space in between is where mindset shifts reside. Allow yourself time to narrow your focus into what feels like a manageable, reasonable, practical goal.

Filling – These are all the components. The meat, cheese or vegetarian protein is your main component.   Think about this as the active phase of shifting your mindset, working on your goal and finding a new way of thinking about it.

In terms of emotional eating, this might take the form of using a mantra to actively calm the anxiety that leads to emotional eating.

t might be making a choice to journal, draw, talk, etc. your way through a feeling and understand it more and find other ways of managing the discomfort rather than emotionally eating.

Or it might be going for a walk around your building at the end of your lunch hour rather than listening to a disgruntled coworker, leaving you in the wake of their unhappiness.

Lastly, there’s the sauce. This brings the enchilada all together and melds the components into one cohesive dish.   In terms of our work, this is paying attention while you focus on one thing.

Knowing that there are other goals, other parts of yourself you would like to feel better about and at the same time, this is what you’re working on right now – one goal at a time.

These parts make up the whole enchilada. Without one, there would be an important component missing.

Take the time and plan what and how you want to move toward your goal. What’s necessary is that you narrow down your focus so that you can get good at doing that one thing.

This doesn’t mean you’re going to leave everything else behind. It means that you respect yourself and your process of change so much that you’re giving your time and attention to yourself.

Working at this slower pace is respectful of you finding what you need most, learning how you’re going to provide it for yourself and then practice, practice, practice until you’re satisfied.

When you're ready to make a change it's tempting to do a

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