Emotional eating is a huge energy drain.
Emotional eating takes your focus away from more productive activities, like dealing with your emotions head-on.
Think about how much time and energy you expend thinking about the uncomfortable feelings, wanting it to go away, telling yourself that you can quiet the obsessive thoughts to finally getting overcome by your need for peace and eating what you wish you hadn’t.
How many times in your life has this happened?
How much energy have you used in this process rather than doing the big things in life that you want to do?
How much money have you spent on food that doesn’t fuel for your mind, body or heart?
Conscious Eating is one-way you can support yourself as you break out of this cycle.
The challenge is to have a set of ideas to help you move through the emotional rough spot.
Emotional eating can feel abstract, like there’s noting the grab ahold of so you know what action to take. With a set of identifiable tools, you can use them to develop the skills needed to use your emotions as a guide rather than a roadblock.
One of the great benefits of Conscious Eating is that as you practice it doesn’t really take much thought.
Conscious Eating becomes a life skill that you comfortably use all the time without really noticing much – without needing to think too much!
You probably have read about some of the ways you ensure that your body is getting what it needs to support you physically. Here are a few short reminders:
Eat breakfast – break the fast
Research has shown that breaking the fast by eating soon after waking has benefits throughout the day. Eating breakfast helps to prevent emotional eating, impulsive eating and binge eating, even many hours later by keeping your energy levels up and blood sugar levels stable.
Get enough protein
Research has shown that eating a mix of carbohydrate, protein and fat keeps you stable throughout the day in many ways. Blood sugar, energy level, clarity of thought, etc. Eating a well-rounded meal also helps with feeling satisfied with your meal, and with satisfaction, the drive for something more is no long nagging. You can move on to the next thing in life.
Get enough rest
Research has shown the link between sleep and the ability of your body to run smoothly. When you don’t have enough sleep, you are much more susceptible to going for the quick energy of simple carbohydrate foods to get the energy you’re lacking from being tired. This can start a vicious cycle of feeling guilty about the foods you’re eating and creates a cascade of feelings that can lead to more emotional eating.
Conscious Eater advice is where things get interesting!
This advice is where you begin to develop the foundation and mindset to keep you feeling good for years to come. The biggest benefit is that you don’t need to think about the emotional consequences of what you eat.
Food is food and the emotional pull dissipates. You are free to eat what you like, secure in the knowledge that you will nurture yourself in ways you know are right for you.
1. Know that the food will wait for you
Sometimes I hear people say that they feel controlled by food. Food somehow has you in its grip and charms you with its promise of a satisfying experience.
But really, this can’t be true. It’s the feelings that are overwhelming, unclear, unpleasant, etc. that lead to an overwhelming desire for food to take away the discomfort.
Conscious Eating practice shifts the power dynamic from emotional eating back to your own innate sense of nurturing.
You can develop a mindful relationship with food. Following the physical guidelines above is one way to ensure that you don’t get over hungry.
It could be that you begin to practice patience and ask yourself what you really need. It might be food or it could be a different way of nurturing yourself. When you step back, wait a moment, give yourself time to figure out what you really need you can make decisions that support your relationship.
2. Know that you can eat whatever you want
Many people have ideas about good food vs. bad food. Often this leads to cutting out whole food groups, eating by color, restricting certain foods to only on a holiday, etc.
While you need to pay attention to your unique sensitivities, you can also have a heart to heart with yourself. Truly answer the question, “am I cutting out certain foods because I have a negative opinion about it or because it really doesn’t sit well with my body?”
Most of the time it’s your view of the food that gives it more power than it really has. When all foods have the same moral value, they lose their power.
The result is that you have the power to make food decisions that support you in mind, body and heart.
3. Know that when you’re conscious, kind and loving toward yourself you will treat yourself well
“as soon as you notice you’re suffering you automatically embrace yourself with compassion.”
― Kristin Neff
It’s very difficult to be harsh and judgmental about your relationship with food, when you shift to Conscious Eating and loving kindness.
It’s also difficult to be unconscious and give yourself a “free pass” when you’re practicing Conscious Eating. Genuine, authentic loving kindness makes it impossible to also deceive yourself.
As you grow in your relationship with yourself your foundation becomes stronger.
You can make choices about any food and eat those that you enjoy with pleasure. You can also make choices about foods that provide you with the nutrition you need because that’s what your body needs, even if they aren’t the most exciting foods. Both types of eating are necessary.
You have more truly nurturing goodwill for yourself from which to live. It’s like a well of goodness you can draw from anytime.
4. Know that your body will let you know what you need
Conscious Eating allows you to be quiet and listen and trust that when you give yourself the opportunity you can make choices you feel good about.
You can trust your relationship with yourself. That when you’re tired you will rest, when you’re energized you will move, when you’re missing connection you will re-connect, when you’re hungry you will eat.
Paying attention is part of how you live, no longer denying your body and pushing through. True toughness is knowing when to push and when not to.
5. You can live following the ebb and flow of life with awareness and grace.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn
Conscious Eating isn’t about a perfect connection with yourself. There will be times when you are very busy and it’s a mad dash to grab something to eat or you will long for a good nap.
There are times when you will be sad and life will seem like a bowl full of lemons.
These are the times when being more conscious, more present in your relationship with yourself is challenging. It’s natural to want to check out and just get through. That’s Okay.
Becoming a Conscious Eater gives you the foundation that when these tough times come around, you will not leave yourself. You have the relationship with yourself to support yourself, knowing that tomorrow is a new day.
Begin your journey to become a Conscious Eater with letting go of rigid thinking and rules that don’t make sense. The relief you’ll experience is worth the effort.