This weeks’ blog is from Elaine Garrigan, Johnstown Therapy Centre’s Health Psychologist
If you have spent years losing weight but find it difficult to maintain your weight it may be time to try something very different. Stop dieting and focus on yourself instead! There are different reasons why some people find comfort in food including low self esteem. If you find yourself in a year after year cycle of losing weight, then regaining weight coupled with feelings of worthlessness, which triggers comfort eating then it may be time to deal with the real issues behind your relationship with food and whether you are an emotional eater?
What emotional eating refers to is eating in response to emotional cues- eating when you are feeling stressesed, lonely or sad. The first step is to be aware of emotional triggers to overeating- Identify them and then when you are faced with the decision to eat or not you can learn to recognise and respond in a different way. STOP, take a breath and ask yourself – ‘what am I reacting to? ‘- Am I stressed, tired, anxious, or feeling down? What am I thinking?.
Be Mindful – Be present – Stop and breathe
- Identify your triggers and have a plan – if you are aware of what triggers you to overeat then you can develop coping strategies to respond. Am I physically hungry? Be mindful of situations or people that may trigger you to eat and have some pre planned coping strategies.
- Watch out for negative and critical thoughts – It is these thoughts that will cause you to overeat! Many of these thoughts are very self critical. If they are – Maybe label them as ‘Is this my internal bully speaking again’?!
- Question your thoughts – Can I handle this craving? If something bad does happen, how will I prepare myself to handle it? or – Is this worry realistic?, Is this likely to happen? What advice would I give to a friend?.
- Practice a non judgemental approach (to yourself and others) and show some self compassion.
- Use positive self talk! For example ‘ These cravings feel bad but I have strategies to deal with them – ‘I can distract myself by doing some activity or call a friend’.
- Focus on the here and now -If you are feeling emotional or stressed then take a moment to be aware of your thoughts and feelings- acknowledge them without judging them!
Make a fresh start for 2015 – There are also some very effective practical commitments you can do to help control emotional or binge eating.
- Commit to healthy eating
- Practice Mindful Eating
- Get Regular Exercise – (Start with 30 mins for 3 days a week)
- Practice Mindfulness mediation for just 10 minutes a day
This year try being kind to yourself as the first step in managing your weight. Be mindful of self critical voices that triggers emotions of guilt and thus the cycle of feel bad- eat- feel guilt – eat more begins.