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Tip #9 (Freshman 15 Solution) How to Avoid Emotional Eating

When most people think of emotional eating, they think of eating when depressed, upset, or angry. That is only half of it. Emotional eating also includes eating when euphoric, giddy, excited, or nervous.

I noticed this when I was in college. When I was a freshman I lived in the dorms and there was an unwritten rule that whenever a girl kissed a guy she had to buy ice cream for all the girls on her floor. There we sat, ten or more giddy eighteen year-olds diving our spoons into multiple cartons of ice cream and jabbering excitedly. They don’t call the inherent weight gain “Freshman 15” for nothing. Although it was fun at the time, we all paid for it! Since then, I’ve learned not to eat when feeling strong emotions of any kind.

Emotional eating is impulsive eating and keeps you from listening to your body’s signals. It is a distraction. You are so focused on your emotions that you ignore your body’s warning signs that it is full.
Emotions often last much longer than the time it takes to fill your stomach. You feel an urge to keep eating until the emotions are stifled, especially when you are feeling negative emotions like sadness, anger, or you are eating to fight fatigue.

After you realize you have overeaten, your mood tends to swing to feelings of guilt and shame. You not only feel physical discomfort, but you feel regret. You may even feel worse than you did before you started eating.

If any of this sounds familiar, keep reading because there is a better way to deal with emotions than eating!
Many professional therapists urge people to shift their energy to exercising, but that is effective only to a degree. Exercise does help to level out emotions, but it is only a band-aid and not a cure. It lifts your mood, but sooner or later the stressful thoughts that trigger emotional eating will bubble again to the surface. Like eating, exercising does not help people discover and quiet the source that causes the recurring emotions to keep coming back.

What I am going to introduce to you in the next tip is the most effective way to end emotional eating that I have found. It is most useful for people who feel trapped and who overeat on a regular basis due to stress, worry, excitement, boredom, or any other emotion.

Tip at a Glance

Read Tip #10, “The Work® of Byron Katie,” to start breaking free from the habits in your life, including overeating, that cause you grief. Think about which negative emotions you have that commonly lead to overeating. Being aware of your emotions that trigger overeating is the first step in overcoming them.

Tip #6
Hara Hachi Bu

You know that feeling you get when you are just about full? You want to keep eating more, but you can tell if you do you will have a bellyache later.

The Japanese call this concept Hara Hachi Bu. This is a teaching in which people should focus on eating only until they are 80% full. Since you can eat faster than your body digests, you don’t get the full signal until after you have finished your meal. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up eating more than you need.
It can be tricky at first to apply the Hara Hachi Bu rule because you don’t feel completely full or satisfied when you are only 80% full. And if you’re like me, your eyes are bigger than your stomach so you just want to keep enjoying your meal.

However, applying just this one rule could be the magic you need that helps you not only stop overeating, but lose weight. Because each pound you gain or lose is basically 3,500 calories, consuming 3,500 less calories over a period of time means you have just lost one pound. Pretty simple! Stopping when you are 80% full could mean you eat 100 less calories than normal. After a year of following the Hara Hachi Bu rule, you could lose ten pounds!

Tip at a Glance

Don’t worry about finishing everything on your plate…just stop when you feel like you are almost full. Since you can eat faster than your body digests, you don’t get the full signal until after you have finished your meal. So, slow down, eat less, and you will still be full in the end! Just remember…Hara Hachi Bu!

Tip #12
Play an Empowering Role

Shakespeare said, “All the worlds a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Each moment in each day we can choose what role we will play. Our habits turn us into predictable characters. We expect to act certain ways because that is how we have done things in the past. That is the label we have given ourselves, that is the role we identify with, and that is how we see ourselves. Self perception is very powerful and can lead us to blindly play a role that is not in our best interest.

For example, one night at nine pm I was making dinner for myself. It had been a long work day and I was just about ready to hit the sack. As I sat there stirring my scrambled eggs dinner over the gas burning stove, I started to feel sorry for myself. “Poor, tired me,” I thought. “I work so hard and never get a break.” If I could illustrate how I saw myself in that moment, I would draw a haggard old woman with white scraggly hair bending her tired achy back over her measly supper. It was a pathetic image!

The moment I had identified myself as a poor hard-working person and planted a large “victim” sticker on my forehead, the more I wanted to convince myself that it was true. I wanted to play that role. Luckily, a couple seconds into my fantasy, I caught myself, was amused by it, and decided to switch to a more empowering role.

Be careful about what label or role you have given to yourself. Once you believe that a certain role belongs to you and it goes unrecognized, you are constantly trying to prove it is true and you become stuck playing that role.

How does this relate to overeating? If you identify yourself as someone who cannot break free from overeating, you will keep playing the role. That role will determine your actions.

Next time you slip up with your health goals, be careful how you label yourself. If you apply the “failure” or “weak” label to yourself, you will likely start playing that role. Then you have type-cast yourself and you expect to disappoint yourself. Be conscious of the role you are playing and if you don’t like it, create a new empowering role. Start thinking like a character with a winning attitude and you will soon have one.

Tip at a Glance

What will you call yourself today? What role will you play? Identifying yourself as someone who is working on self-improvement is much more empowering than calling yourself a weak failure.
Choose a role that empowers you. For example, when I was feeling like a victim, I changed my role to be a person who is hard-working and successful. When you choose your role, you win the mind game and come out on top!

If you find it difficult to start playing a more empowering role, come up with some adjectives to describe the type of role you want to play. Do you want to be more courageous, more decisive, more compassionate? Ask yourself, how would I react in this situation if I was more courageous and decisive? How would I act if I had more compassion for myself? Imagine it and then start executing that role, as if it were you already. Pretty soon, it will be.

Tip #13
Stop Crying Wolf

This is a really easy trap to fall into. Have you ever told other people you were on a diet? Then, have you ever eaten something that contradicts your diet and made a joke about it? “You know me, on a never-ending diet, always cheating, ha ha!”

If this happens over and over again, pretty soon your family and friends will expect you to talk about your diet, joke about it, and then break it. You will start playing the role of the little boy who cried, “Wolf”, and people just won’t take you seriously.

Because others see you playing this role, they might start joking about it with you. Instead of supporting you in your goals, they are supporting you in playing your role. That makes it harder to stop because others find it amusing.
If you want to break free from this endless cycle, stop joking about your bad eating habits. When you stop

adding fuel to the fire, others will most likely do the same. This way, your friends and family can support you in achieving your goals instead of in postponing them.

Tip at a Glance

Commit to your health goals. If you fall short and go against your goal, don’t use that as material for a chronic joke. Others won’t take you seriously and after a while, you won’t either.

*Just as a way to say thank you, I am offering a special 15% discount on the book for those who read these free chapters. The code is THANKS and applies only to G . Type in the code and save, thank you!

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