Emotional Eating: Learn to H.E.A.L before you bite
As a little girl, I was overweight. As a teen, I was overweight. I used food as the main constant in my life. Now, as an adult, despite what the lovely ladies at the mall promoting their new gym told me last week, I know I am overweight and sometimes still use food as a friend. Whether it be to combat my loneliness, my boredom, my mental exhaustion or another emotion, food is the friend that never judges and is always there.
It was almost five years ago that I began seriously thinking (for the hundredth time) about the weight loss battle. It was almost five years ago that I began implementing the changes I yearned for. Somewhere in that timeframe, I had lost almost 50 pounds/22kg. I felt like a new woman. I could fit into a “size 14” ( who really knows the true sizes of clothing anymore) and was deliriously happy.
Thriving on my new path meant rules in order to keep me going. They were: to not eat past 8 pm ( 2 hours before bed- although I’m sure I broke that rule a few times), to walk every single day around the block, to drink at least half a gallon/2 litres a day of water and of course to watch what I ate. Eating purely showed me there was a direct connection between mouth and mind. Exercising showed me there was a direct connection between movement and mind. Combined, the two showed me that, to some extent, I am my own healer both physically and mentally.
Fast forward to the present and I have gained a little bit of that weight back and am slowly getting into the swing of my rules again and falling off. It is not easy changing our mindset, it is a challenge and it will always continue to be a challenge in that, at least for me, it will never be something that will be permanently fixed or cured. Two questions I usually ask myself before taking a bite is whether I am hungry and if yes, whether I am trying to covering up an emotion. In order to help myself, I came up with an acronym to continue the path of distancing myself from the physical toll of emotional eating and to remind myself that I am human and in the process of healing one moment at a time.
H.E.A.L- Hungry, Emotion, Attitude, Love.
There are 3 main questions I should ask myself before choosing to eat:
1. Am I actually Hungry? By remembering when I ate last, I consciously take control of my habits and do not eat to fill any other void. It is here that I take control of not only my emotions but portions. Make sure you know what your intention is first before you dive into the deliciousness.
2. Am I eating to cover up an Emotion? If yes, I usually drink tea or water and mentally remove myself by listening to music or doing something else. It is only later, in a relaxed state, that I dissect the emotion. Mentally removing myself does two things- it takes my mind off of the negative emotion which does not make me emotionally eat and it allows my soul to continue in the knowledge that healing is a constant.
3. What is my Attitude? Am I thinking about the past or the future or am I present? If I am thinking about the past or future, I know I will be eating to cover up an emotion or some type of stress that stems from an emotion. If I am thinking about the present then my question becomes is this food going to sustain me or deplete me? Depending on the type of food I want to eat, I decide whether it will give me energy over the long run, like eggs or whether it will be a quick energy fix like a McDonalds hamburger. Do not get me wrong. Perfect I am not. It does not mean that I cannot indulge in what I want but it is crucial that the intention is clear: you are eating not to suppress emotions.
4. I Love myself. In order for our hearts to be open to others we have to first be open to ourselves and being open to ourselves means that we constantly acknowledge and accept that we are forever evolving to become better versions of who we were yesterday. By repeating this statement every single time we go through H.E.A.L, our soul becomes aligned to the idea that we deserve better from ourselves, which will in the facet of health, lead us to make better decisions and ultimately help us lead and live our best lives.
*This article was first published on Thrive Global.