ARE YOU USING FOOD TO CONTROL EMOTIONS?
Last time, I talked about quitting dieting! Scary, I know! But did it make you think...? Did you think of all the diets you have been on? How they have helped you in some way at the time but ultimately failed?
Have you ever thought for one second that stopping all forms of dieting might be the answer? Probably not - because the diets are in some way helping you to feel good by being in control, or under control. And that is OK. But I want you to think now, if the endless diets themselves are actually helping you overall? Were you aware that there is a deep human desire to be 'in control' or 'under control'? It is important to our brains to have choices, but also not so important to make choices and this plays into how you choose your diet and the foods you eat and how that makes you feel about it. When it comes to emotions it is important to understand that we cannot and should not try to control them. They are there for a reason. But often, when we feel that we cannot control our emotions we just turn to food. We want to mask emotions, dial them down or get rid of them. Emotions can be so powerful that the behaviour we choose to deal with them can be a little extreme. Tell me - have you ever felt so stressed, anxious, depressed, angry, sad or even so happy that you reached for food, and it made you feel better? Do you believe that the food made the emotion really go away? This is just an illusion of control and it's temporary. I would like you to think about this... Our emotions are part of us. We all have them, and there are so many different emotions that we have and they are there for a reason. How many emotions can you name? Take a minute to sit down and write out as many as you can think of and if you feel like it you can let me know what number you came up with. It's healthy to have a large emotional vocabulary, and in many clients I work with, this is one thing that they lack.... that large emotional vocabulary. This means that they cannot express how they feel and the result is a specific behaviour around food. So today I wanted to write about 2 things which help when I work with typical yo-yo diet clients and eating disorder clients. Both of whom are likely to be having binge eating episodes and I invite you to try these 2 things for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference.
IMPLEMENTING CONTROL The first thing that I implement is a structured eating pattern. It includes having breakfast, lunch and dinner and either 2 or 3 snacks per day in between those meals. We try not to leave any more than 4 hours between any periods of eating. By defining meal times, you are giving yourself some rules which equate to control, so it is helpful in the short term. Eating regularly helps balance your blood sugar and creates more balance in the parts of the brain that regulate our emotions - especially if you include quality protein, carbs (from plants and wholegrains - not cakes!) and healthy fats (including omega 3). Your brain needs all of those nutrients so I don't advise cutting anything out. (What I am not saying here is don't eat cake.... what I am saying is that plants and wholegrains are a quality source of carbohydrate. It is important for you to understand that cake may well be a source of carbohydrate but it is also much higher in fat and sugar to make it more palatable.) MANAGING EMOTIONS By implementing the dietary needs above you will already be starting to help manage your emotions and your hunger by working on the chemicals which are activated in the brain. However, that alone will not be sufficient to stop emotional eating or binges completely. It will certainly reduce them, as it is does with every single person I have worked with. So, in addition to the dietary changes it is a good idea to start to notice your emotions and give them thanks rather than trying to hide them or get rid of them. To do this, the next time you feel a strong powerful emotion which is driving you to think about food or eating, then I want you to take a big deep breath and feel the emotion. Where is it in your body and what it is trying to tell you? Take a few more breaths and understand that the emotion will pass... it may be uncomfortable but it will pass. Now, say "thank you brain" and then you still have the choice to go eat the food, or not eat the food. You may well be hungry and need food, but please just acknowledge that there is something else going on there. Use the breathing time to create a space between feeling an emotion and acting on it. **If you are not adhering to the regular eating pattern then this is not going to be so effective so always ensure it's in place and has been consistent. Over time you are going to become better at understanding what your brain is trying to tell you and practicing delaying the total amount of time between feeling and acting up on the emotion. Does that make sense? I would love you to try these things and let me know how you get on. Depending on how long you have dieted for in your life and how many times your weight has yo-yo'd or how many or severe your binges are this can take some time but I do recommend sticking with it for 6 weeks to see what happens. I am open to all questions and comments so do start a conversation here. If it helps you it is no doubt helping others. Or if you are shy just email me 😁 Have a great day! AJx