Are you an emotional eater?
Emotional eating is one of those things that creep up on us. One day we are taking good care of ourselves eating healthy, maybe exercising, the next moment something sets us off and we are eating everything or anything not nailed down. We know what we’d like to do; we just can’t seem to do it. Here are some signs that you are involved with emotional eating too frequently.
1. Do you tend to over eat certain types of food over and over again? When something throws us off or it’s a certain time of the day or event, we end up going to our staple foods. We all have our go-to foods, but for us, it becomes mind less eating. We look forward to the first few bites, but then it becomes this mechanical eating; we don’t even remember ingesting most of it. But, it’s gone off the table and chances are we are the only one there.
2. Do you find when you have a bite of certain foods; you’re eating goes out of control? You know those foods, the ones that if we start with them, then we are in trouble. We know we are better off having nothing, than having something, because just that first taste will set us off and running in circles with the food. What do I eat next? We start obsessing about the food, should I have it should I not, leading up to the first bite. When we finally cave in to having it, we truly enjoy it for the first moment and then the guilt washes over us, but we keep on going.
3. Many days after school, work, or the days outing, I come home and go directly to the refrigerator. We don’t even think about it, before we turn around we are inhaling whatever is the closest thing in the cabinet or refrigerator. It has become such an automatic behavior, we are not even aware of what we are doing, until we are knee deep in snack foods.
4. Do you find after you lose weight and receive compliments or attention, you start to regain weight back? We are constantly asking ourselves why. Why can’t we just appreciate feeling good? Do we feel unworthy or not entitled to feel good? Or is the need for it serving so much more powerful then caring about how we feel about ourselves and our food choices.
5. Do you feel like you’ve been around this food merry go round so many times that you are afraid you will never lose your excess weight? Most of us that have been engaged in emotional eating have been on this cycle for so long, it’s hard to even approach it one more time. Each time we try it becomes harder and harder, and our successes becomes more short lived and we are right back to the food again.
If this sounds like you, you are not alone. Many of us feel very isolated that we don’t have someone to talk to or that really understands. People just seem to say, can’t you just put down the cake or go for a run. They don’t really get what we are going through. Being overweight and being involved in emotional eating are not the same thing. For an emotional eater the weight is just a byproduct of unhealthy thinking patterns. If you would like to shift you’re though process and you would like to learn how to break out of this cycle, you are in the right place.
Take the first step….
You may know someone—or that someone might be staring back at you in the mirror—who yo-yo diets, engages in compulsive overeating, is constantly makes poor food choices, and/or is in a never-ending cycle of weight gain and loss. A closet full of clothes of many different sizes is a sad but true testament to their lifestyle.
Are you a Compulsive Overeater?
A compulsive overeater knows he or she is overweight. Remarks from concerned friends, such as, “Let’s exercise together so you can lose weight” or “Why don’t you just go on a diet” are emotionally devastating. A compulsive overeater has many faces: those that make self-deprecating jokes about themselves, “I feel like a beached whale,” others that accept they can’t maintain a “normal” weight and continue to overeat, those that become reclusive, refusing to attend any events that they don’t absolutely have to or becoming workaholics that use their work as an excuse for not having a personal life, “Can’t go, have to work.” Still others will put on the face of denial, never acknowledging there is a problem, “The cleaners keep shrinking my clothes!” and then there are those who will try every new fad diet, supplement, or exercise program to no avail, hiding their compulsive overeating behavior.
Compulsive overeaters often hide behind their appearance, barricading themselves against society. They feel guilty for not being “good enough” and shame for being overweight. They use eating to cope with these feelings, often turning to episodes of binging and eating to forget the pain. Often, after such an episode, they become focused on getting the weight off at whatever cost—sacrificing good nutrition and eating habit—which can lead to a multitude of health problems. Compulsive overeating is a vicious cycle that is often repeated over and over again. They may or may not have a true concept of what normal eating habits are.
One such person was Lauren Grant, the founder of The Hungry Heart. She first became aware of her issues with food when she was in high school. She spent many nights watching television and overeating which led to weight gain. She tried many diets and would lose weight but when she eventually and inevitably “cheated,” she would feel guilty and turn to food, thinking it would provide the comfort she desired, ultimately gaining more weight. Eventually she would start dieting again and the vicious cycle of compulsive overeating would be set in motion again.
Feeling trapped, Lauren started going to therapy, learned as much as she could about compulsive overeating, and joined various support groups. Unfortunately her problems with food remained throughout college. Initially she thought her overeating was due to the stress of finals but soon realized it had to do with a stressful family situation; but even though she intellectually understood the underlying reasons for her eating behavior she still needed the food to deal with her emotions.
What changed for Lauren? She finally acknowledged the root of her problem and took stock of her life—honestly dealing with her issues with food for the first time in her life. She realized that she had to stop blaming her childhood for her overeating and be responsible for her own happiness.
Having overcome her own battle with food, Lauren set out to create a program that would help others break free of their issues with food, naturally and permanently. Thus, in 1996, The Hungry Heart was established. Lauren chose the name because as she says, “Compulsive Overeaters don’t really eat because food tastes so good, but because we’re emotionally hungry. People overeat for many reasons such as stress, boredom, and loneliness. To them, food is comfort or a reward. But the two most common threads that run through our issues with food are not feeling good about ourselves and not taking care of ourselves.”
Lauren and her team of Certified Nutritional Counselors and Clinical Hypnotherapists have all overcome their own issues with food—yo-yo dieting, food obsessions, starving, binging, excessive exercise—that drained their energy, stole their time, and destroyed their quality of life. They understand what it takes to permanently change your relationship with food once and for all.
The Hungry Heart’s systematic 8-session program teaches clients how to stop the diet/binge cycle and lose weight naturally and permanently—addressing the core issues that have led to this behavior. Clients enjoy favorite foods without guilt or weight gain. The program is results-driven and includes behavior modification, hypnotherapy, and nutritional counseling.
Are you a compulsive overeater? Take our quiz to find out! Click here.
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10 Practical Tips on How to Stop Binge Eating
As a former binge eater, I had tried it all. I knew how I wanted to approach food, but every time I would try to get a handle on my overeating I would end up back in the diet/binge cycle. Over years, I started making some changes to my food and thought process that significantly changed my reaching for food when I would feel stressed or anxious. I liked to share my top 10 tools on how to stop binge eating that truly helped turn my life around.
- How to Set Yourself Up for Success. Learn how to approach food in a healthy manner, not on a diet, not feeling like your holding your breath to get to the next meal, and not in a way that will set you up for obsessively thinking about the next opportunity to eat.
We’ve heard it before, but are you doing it? Eat frequently throughout the day. It starts with the basics, of eating good combinations of fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins and carbs every 3 hours. If you go too long without eating you will set yourself up to overeat and feel out of control, feel like you don’t know how to stop binge eating. So set yourself up for success and eat good quality fuel every few hours.
- Plan. Plan. Keep healthy food available for the full day. If you don’t have good quality food on hand, you will end up turning to whatever junk is nearby. Just like you wouldn’t send your kids to school without a game plan to eat, you need to have your game plan. You wouldn’t show up to a meeting without your report or presentation materials, you have to be well fed before you go in, and if it’s going to be awhile, bring something with you so you can last the duration. We are much better off when we have good fuel in our system. When clients ask how to stop binge eating, the best tool I share is to have a food game plan.
- What are you saying to yourself: How we communicate with our selves will affect how we feel, how we handle life challenges, and what ends up showing up in our lives. We can be our own best friend or our own worst enemy. If your internal communications aren’t serving you, then you need to learn how to shift them to helpful resourceful communications.
- Meet Your Personal Needs: A lot of times we don’t even know what are needs are. We are so busy taking care of everyone and everything else that we end up last in our own lives. We then end up rebelling and turning to the food and end up binge eating to meet our personal needs. So learn to identify what is going on in your emotional life and how you can support yourself as you handle it. If you don’t know how to handle the situation, that’s when you need the support even more. So learn to truly be your own best friend.
- Create a Balance Life: Many times we let work or kids, or parents needs overshadow the other important parts of our life that they get crowded out. We stop focusing in or prioritizing time for ourselves, exercise, eating well, time with friends, socialization, or self-care. We then start to feel bad about ourselves. We need to take charge and reprioritize our time and energy. Pull out your calendar and schedule fun and exercise, just like you would anything else that makes it to your to do list or calendar.
- Problem Solving Skills: Learning how to overcome challenging situations and people are key to managing a healthy life. If we don’t have healthy boundaries, it is very easy to get overrun by other’s needs. If you are not sure how to solve an issue, start utilizing your resources, which can help. Think outside the box, research it, talk to friends or knowledgeable people in the area you need help in and then pick a direction. The key is don’t stay stuck. Try an idea if it works great, if it doesn’t move on to the next idea. If we do nothing for too long, we end up feeling bad about ourselves and lack of control and many times turn to food. When we don’t know how to stop binge eating or don’t feel good about other areas of our lives, building our problem solving skills and resources are the key to success.
- Develop a strong sense of self confidence and self-esteem. We want to feel good about ourselves unconditionally. Even if things aren’t the way we would like them to be, we can still feel good about who we are today and the direction we are moving in. Feeling good about ourselves and feeling whole and complete, allows us to make the best decision we can in the moment.
- Stop Self Sabotaging Behavior: If we beat ourselves up emotionally when we get hit with life challenges or are not sure how to stop binging, fix things in life or make them right, we end up spiraling down and feeling even worse. If you recognize that you have patterns in your life that are showing up over and over again that aren’t serving you, it’s time to shift your thought process and let go of the thoughts that are taking you down that path and shift them to a healthier approach.
- Create Health Boundaries with Family/Friends/Work. Learning to say “No” is a tough one for many of us people pleasers. We like to make everything right or perfect for everyone, and then we end up sacrificing ourselves and end up turning to the food. Determining your own limits of what you can manage comfortable is important, but feeling comfortable sharing it with others is even more important. So you can stand up to yourself, even when others push back or try and put their agenda or needs onto you. Learn to prioritize yourself, they may be sad or strike out, when you first start setting boundaries, but in the long run, you will be healthier and you will develop healthier relationships. If people can’t respect your needs, then maybe you need to revisit how much time and energy you put into the relationship.
- Learn to Be Your Own Best Friend: Learning to be our own cheerleader and support system will set us up to feel better when you get hit with the daily ups and downs. Visualize a big bright white light surrounding and supporting you.
These steps are really big tools that will have significant change in your life and approach to food. If you would like more ideas on how to stop binge eating feel free to touch base and ask for help. We are a community that works together and helps others break free of emotional overeating, binging, yo-yo dieting and just constantly making poor food choices. We are a safe, discreet environment, where you will get positive results. The Hungry Heart is an 8 session systematic process that helps clients overcome their issues with food. If you are ready to end your battle with food and feel good about yourself, then click the link below and let’s get started.
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Are you an Impulse Eater? True/False
- Do you eat large amounts of food very fast in a short amount of time?
- Do you eat desserts or leftovers, even if you feel full?
- Do you sneak or hide food occasionally?
- Do you eat when your day if your day is stressful?
- Do you feel the need to eat most of the time?
- Do you give into cravings for certain foods and then overeat?
- Is your typical meal last less than 15 minutes?
- Do you usually NOT leave food on your plate?
- Even if you are not hungry, if good food is available, do you eat large amounts?
- Do you typically multi task while eating?
- Do you eat in several rooms in your house?
- Do you skip chewing food completely before swallowing?
- Do you eat too much after dinner?
Impulse Eating Behaviors Include:
Eating too much or too fast
Eating leftovers or dessert when full
Eating sweet, high-fat food as a regular habit
Hiding or sneaking food
Overeating and eating beyond being full
If you like the food, you will finish what’s on your plate regardless if you are full
Eating in locations other than the kitchen or dining room table
Your activities always seem to center around food
Night time eating
Tools to Overcome Impulse Eating:
1. Create a New Habit: If you are feeling stressed or anxious and are thinking about food, you need to create a new habit. It will accomplish two goals, one remove your focus on the food and two get you involved in another activity. So instead of eating the cake on the counter when you come home from a stressful day, why not go straight to taking a shower, calling a friend, go for a walk, join a group, read a book, or play tennis. If you get involved in an activity that you would enjoy, then your day just continues and food is fuel so you can enjoy your next activity and have something to look forward to.
2. Set Yourself Up for Success Before Urges Hit: If you know you are always looking for sweets at 3pm in the afternoon, or when a vendor brings junk food in and leaves in the lunch room, you feel it calling your name, set yourself up for success beforehand. Eat healthy sweets that will meet your need, before that craving or situation surface. By doing so your blood sugar will level out and when you are presented with the sweets it won’t be calling your name. You will be able to skip without trying. Before I would take my kids to a birthday party, I would always have a hot chocolate or give my kids organic ice cream, the reason is when we go to the party, all the junk food and desserts wouldn’t be calling us. Our need for sugar and fat were already met. We didn’t’ feel deprived and we could concentrate on the people and the fun without a second thought.
3. Don’t Go too Long without Eating: If we go too long without eating, many times it sets us up to eat quickly, and overeat. We will make poor food choices if we are starving. Eat every 3 hours so you keep your energy up and you are never too hungry this way you aren’t as likely to feel out of control and overeat. Also take time to sit down, relax and enjoy your food. Appreciate your time to eat and that you are nourishing your body. By slowing down while you eat, it puts you in a different space then the rushing around we may be doing to get things done.
You are worth taking care of. What change are you willing to make today? Learn more about our program here.
I first realized I had a problem with food approximately 30 years ago. I remembered reading an article about a woman (Boone, Pat) a famous young woman who had a problem with bulimia. She ate and then threw up. Her family was very concerned about it. Attention! Well I decided to try it. The overeating and vomiting was not very appealing, so I tried just not eating. I began exercising more than usual, and then 200 sit-ups, and 200 jumping jacks every night before bed. Well-it sure worked. I was elated. I lost weight and felt great. –for a short while. My parents became concerned and commented on how thin I was becoming i.e.; attention. It didn’t matter to me that it was hurting my body; I just knew I got what I was looking for –attention.
Having four brother and two sisters, the attention was spread thin in our home. I grew up the sixth child. My siblings were all very athletically gifted. My father was as well. Our home was all about sports, 100% teams, games, and trophies. I on the hand am not athletically gifted. I spend most of my adolescents trying out for various teams, always to making it to the final cut (because of my last name). I worked very hard at my school work and carried an A+ average through high school. I realized early on that the grades didn’t matter as much as the sports. At ten years old always being “the baby girl”, my mom got pregnant and my little sister was born. I think that really went through me. I had no athletic talent, but after all I was “the baby”, it’s an odd thing to look back at your life so clearly. Today my little sister is my dearest closet friend in the world. She is the one who urged me to seek help for my eating disorder. She is the one in my family I can talk to about all this,-my weaknesses, my sessions with Lauren, etc.
I would bounce back and forth with bulimia through Junior High and High School. I would pig out with girlfriends, and then vomit when I got home. Not a daily event, not yet! I left home at 17 and the cycle really kicked in. I remember coming home for a visit weighing approximately 95lbs. I’m 5’5” so that’s pretty thin. All I knew was it was great to get attention.
The feelings surrounding the behavior were shame, guilt, helplessness, failure, and being out of control. I remember going to visit family and or friends and feeling awful it there weren’t my snacks out. I would avoid get-togethers because I’d have to control my eating. I sure missed out on a lot. I’ve tried numerous diets in my 30+ years with this disorder, low calorie, no food at all, juicing. I never joined any weight loss programs, mainly because on “the outside” I looked healthy. It was “the inside” that was all messed up. People use to always ask me how do you stay so slim. Huh-if they only knew.
I sometimes joked that my sister, remembering back when she was in high school. She was athletic and larger so my mom took her to Weight Watchers. The irony was I was 26, in full out of control bulimia vomiting 6-7x a day and purchasing huge amounts of food, gorging and then vomiting.
How I got my Freedom from Binging and Purging
My life has improved greatly since becoming part of the Hungry Heart program. I’m not afraid of food anymore. I can enjoy my daily life and look forward to the future. I can be open about my past eating disorder and hopefully be able to help someone else with my honesty. I feel strong about myself worth and inner strength. This program has opened up a whole new world for me. I can actually enjoy my food, knowing that I am nurturing myself and loving myself by doing so. I’ve been able to better enjoy all the aspects of my life. My energy level is higher. I sleep more restfully. I have discontinued taking antidepressants. Life is pretty great!