How to Heal From Emotional Eating: Insights & Advice
Last week, I had the great pleasure of listening to a free teleclass by Golda Poretsky, one of my favorite people and really a Jill of all trades when it comes to helping men and women eat intuitively, love their bodies and lead healthy lives. She owns and operates a wellness company aptly called Body Love Wellness, and has a great blog by the same name. Golda offers many free teleclasses (and other great things), so if you’d like to learn more, sign up to receive her newsletter here.
Today, I wanted to share with you some of my notes from the teleclass. Golda covered tons of important insights and advice but I’ll just share several snippets, including one of her favorite techniques for connecting with your body and the essential vitamin many of us are missing – and how to get it.
How to Reconnect with Your Hunger
Many of us are disconnected from our bodies. We’re not sure when we’re hungry or when we’re full, until we feel overstuffed. We also don’t nourish ourselves, whether that’s with food or other things. Minimizing our own real needs leads to emotional eating: the only time in your day when you sort of give to yourself.
Here’s how to reconnect with your body’s hunger signals:
- Put your hand on your belly.
- Breathe in, hold it and breathe out. Do that again.
- Think of a scale from 1 to 10 (1 being super hungry, like you’re going to faint; and 10 being super stuffed).
- Ask yourself how hungry you are; let your belly tell you.
- Then ask: How did I feel about the answer? Did it seem accurate? Is my stomach saying it’s hungry when it says it should be full?
Your reaction to your hunger says a lot about your needs. Do you feel annoyed? You may have tough time accepting your needs.The key is to do so without judgment. If you’re still hungry after eating a Lean Cuisine, eat without judgment, even if you’re out of points or have reached your calorie count for the day. You’ll be less likely to eat emotionally – or as quickly to turn to emotional eating – when you attend to your body’s needs, and it knows that you’ll nourish it when it’s hungry.
Paying attention to your hunger will mean that food becomes food again. It’s no longer your nemesis, a source of pain or an obsession. If you have trouble connecting with your belly, keep listening and go with any info you get. In a few weeks, your voice will get loud and clear. You can use this whenever you need it such as before, during or after your meal. This is also a key technique to use when you’re feeling out of control. This helps bring you to a state of consciousness.
How to Get that Missing Vitamin
Our society teaches us that thinking of eating as a pleasurable activity is sinful — and it’ll lead to overeating and other horrific things like gaining weight. We’re taught to fear food or view it exclusively as fuel.
According to Golda, the vitamin we’re missing helps us digest food better, helps us relax, and helps our bodies and minds recognize when they’re full. It’s vitamin P or vitamin “pleasure” (Love that, by the way!).
Interestingly, research has shown that when we don’t pay attention to our food, when we don’t smell it or truly taste it (maybe we’re watching TV or eating on the run), or when we’re too focused on calories and guilt, we miss an important process called the cephalic phase digestive response (CPDR) — which is responsible for about 30 to 40 percent of digestion. It’s a scientific term for how we use our senses when we eat: when we see, smell and taste our food. If we’re not paying attention and savoring, our mind doesn’t understand that we’ve eaten, and we’re left hungry.
Golda suggests the below to get your vitamin P, which will further help you connect your mind and body.
Relax, Savor & Bless
1. Relaxing, before, during and after you eat is the key to being full. We eat under lots of stress, and then feel guilty about being hungry. Golda’s three quick and dirty suggestions for moving into a relaxed state:
- Deep breathing, which also improves blood flow.
- Moving your body: Get up from your desk, move for a minute or two. This helps you to get out of your head, away from stress hormones and negative self-talk.
- Think about things that make you happy: baby, dog, beach. Your body will naturally relax.
2. Savor. Imagine you have a piece of your fave cake. Smell the aroma, notice the swirls of cream and just breathe in the beauty. Own the fact that you’re eating cake and enjoying it. This way your mind and body both understand that you’ve eaten. Because you’re also relaxed, you’ve set your body up for optimal digestion. If you eat the cake quickly and feel guilty the entire time, you’re not getting your vitamin P. For one meal a day, try to eat without distraction. Practice savoring, engaging all of your senses. By savoring your food, you’re required to slow down.
3. Blessing your food. This is a simple way to get back in touch with what food really is: nourishment and a source of pleasure. Most people talk about why food is bad. But when we talk about how bad our food is, we create lots of stress, and our body gets two contradictory signals: digest this food but don’t because it’s poison! Instead of saying food is bad, consider thanking G-d or whoever made the food. Have fun with it. List one or two things you’re grateful for with your food.
Dieting Isn’t The Answer
I love Golda’s insight here. She said:
Emotional eating has nothing to do with having bad portion control. If you’re eating to the point of discomfort, dieting is like putting a bandaid on a knife wound. Emotional eating is actually about being too controlled. The more you can get in touch with your feelings and your real hunger, the more you can heal. Dieting tells you it’s not safe to feel your feelings and sets you up for shame when it doesn’t work. That’s why it’s so important to break from dieting patterns and start eating intuitively.
Do you find the above tips helpful? How have you tried to reconnect with your body and its hunger cues? Do you find it difficult?
Today’s favorite post. “What If I Stopped Comparing Myself to Others” by Mara at the always thoughtful and wonderful Medicinal Marzipan (BTW, I’m featuring a three-part interview with Mara at the end of June!)
Have a wonderful weekend!
Tartakovsky, M. (2010). How to Heal From Emotional Eating: Insights & Advice. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 22, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/weightless/2010/06/how-to-heal-from-emotional-eating-insights-advice/