See the picture with the candy wrappers? Has that ever happened to you? Ever looked up after a particularly long day or a long week to realize that you have succumbed to mindless eating, also known as, eating your feelings? I hope that you have never experienced this. But I am betting that you have, with one food or another.
It’s been said that food is the most used (and abused) anxiety drug in the US. What makes us eat in unhealthy ways or try to eat (or not eat) our feelings? In my experience, usually we are trying to avoid feeling something: anxiety, loneliness, discontent, uncertainty, etc. If we would only allow ourselves to feel our emotions, we wouldn’t need to feed them.
I’ve made a concerted effort to grow and develop healthy habits surrounding food because I haven’t always had healthy food habits. Like many of you, I’ve taken a good look at my emotional triggers and have worked to handle them in healthy ways. I am happy to tell you, most to the time, I do really well. However, I still hit the occasional bump in the road.
A couple weeks ago, after a particularly particularly challenging week both professionally and personally. I found myself taking it my anxiety on poor unsuspecting chocolate products. It’s been so long since I’ve been triggered to eat my feelings that it took me few minutes to realize that is what was happening. I was almost glad it happened because it gave me the opportunity to take a look at my behavior and figure out how to stop the spiral and manage my emotions in a more healthy way.
I have a feeling I’m not alone in this. I’d love for us to share with one another the things that work. Please feel free to leave comments below or to send me emails directly.
Here are 10 things that I have found work really well.
1. Acknowledge you are in a negative behavior pattern. Then, ask for help. I ask God, my spirit guides and angels for help. I say something like, “please help me feel my feelings, find ways to manage them and make choices that support my body’s health”.
2. Ask yourself what you are feeling and allow yourself to feel that feeling. Journaling REALLY helps! If I am still trying to avoid my feelings, I go on to number 3.
3. Ask “why am I trying to avoid feeling”? Again, journaling is a huge help. Most often, I’m avoiding my feelings because I am in fear of being powerless. By allowing myself time to reflect, I am able to see where my own personal power lies.
4. Design a strategy to either change thinking patterns or modify behavior/circumstances to resolve the negative feelings. Thinking “I can make a new choice” is often helpful. It is steeped in forgiveness and understanding of my own behaviors. By recognizing we are each human and may make mistakes, we allow our own human experience, learn and move on.
5. Forgive yourself for the slip up. Being human, we are going to slip up sometimes. The trick is in how you quickly you bounce back and get back on the right track. If you don’t do this step, you’ll end up with what Gabrielle Bernstein calls the “F-its” in her “Finally Full” course. You know… “I’ve already (fill in the blank) so I might as well (fill in the blank). I also make a conscious choice to forgive anyone I need to forgive. Just by intending to forgive, the process begins even if I don’t feel forgiveness in that moment.
6. Treat yourself gently; offering loving kindness and nurturing. Book a massage. Or a book a reiki session. Maybe take an extra yoga class. Sometimes you could have a cup of delicious tea. On rare occasions, maybe even have a glass of wine. Sometimes, fatigue is at the root of unhealthy eating patterns and you can eliminate the pattern by getting some rest.
7. Congratulate yourself for recognizing the pattern and getting out of it quickly, as quickly as you became aware. As Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.”
8. Begin to deal with the circumstances that caused the stress or negative feelings. Notice that this is number eight, and not number one. The first seven steps are always composed of self care. This is a critical gesture of self love. Many times, by already staring the forgiveness process our circumstances will have already begun to change in a more positive direction.
9. Eliminate any temptations and throw them away. Replace any trigger foods with healthy options. Maybe stock up on gum. For me gun chewing is an anxiety reducer. It’s probably also the next habit I need to break, so use that with caution.
10. Set an intention to be kinder to your body and allow yourself the freedom to have human and emotional experiences.
If you struggle with unhealthy eating regularly, please consider getting professional help. A licensed counselor or therapist who specializes in eating disorders can save your life. Gabrielle Bernstein also offers a wonderful course I personally recommend called You can view that class here.
I hope this helps and serves you. If so, please share. I’ll see you back here on Thursday for the tip of the week.
All my love.
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