Food is everywhere. Of course, we need food to nourish our bodies and it does help us celebrate life, however, we often overeat when we are stressed, depressed, angry, lonely or anxious. We need to be aware of these triggers in our lives and do what we can to undo the habit of reaching for food every time we have an emotion.
Think about the last time you overate. Was it when you went out to dinner starving and ordered everything on the menu? Are you in a habit of ordering a large box of popcorn with a soda or a box of candy when you go to the movies? Do you reach for a pint of “Ben and Jerry’s” ice cream after an argument with a family member or your spouse? Do you eat half the cookies or chips as you pack your children’s lunches?
Take heart! Here is a list of steps to take action right now and prevent those “trigger” from getting the best of you:
1. Write your triggers down in a journal so you are aware of what they are before you reach for another bag of chips.
2. Change rooms or location of where you are – a shift in surroundings can really make a difference in your mood and keep you away from the kitchen. Walk outside or out to a garden if you have one.
3. Take a 5 minute breather – walk around the block, go up and down the stairs, sit and do some deep breathing exercises. My favorite deep breathing exercise is take a deep breath in for a count of 4 – hold it for a count of 4 and exhale for a count of 4. Do it 4 times! You will be amazed how much calmer you will feel and you won’t need those bag of chips.
4. Eat 300-400 calorie mini-meals every 3-4 hours throughout the day to keep your blood sugar levels even throughout the day. Not only will this help you keep your weight down but this technique will help beat those cravings for sugar.
5. Give yourself a reward – get a facial, manicure or pedicure or all three. Take a hot bath or read a good book instead of focusing on food.
6. Make exercise a habit every single day – find a physical activity you can do and look forward to and will commit to on a regular basis. Exercise releases endorphins, endorphins make you happy without food.
7. Just BE – take a moment and sit with your feelings and let them wash over you. Whatever emotion comes up, let it come over you and write about it in your journal and you will discover it is less frightening to deal with than you might have thought.
8. Outwit your cravings – give your cravings 15 minutes before reaching for those Ding Dongs – drink some water and see if you can outwite those triggers by doing any of the above first. You will be pleasantly surprised at how differently you will feel.
It takes time to undo bad habits, so give yourself a full 30 days to get good at recognizing your personal triggers and make a committment to at least one strategy listed above to undo those cravings. Your life does not have to always be about food. Find alternatives that will work for you. Your mind and body will reward you for your efforts.