Whether you suffer from emotional eating issues or not, anyone can suffer from moments of unplanned, or mindless eating.
If you find yourself tempted to overeat, or catch yourself in the middle of a full-on binge, these techniques can help you get past the temptation of eating something you might regret later!
So, before you eat that tempting (fill in the blank) :
1. Think it through. Imagine yourself indulging in whatever you want. Imaging eating that cookie or cake or ice cream… whatever it is, and savoring every last bite. Then what? How easy will it be for you to get back on track with your goals? Will you “blow” the rest of your day with other bad foods? What about the next day? Think through the consequences of your actions– is it worth the aftermath?
2. Eat something healthy immediately! Even if it doesn’t sound good to you and you don’t think you’re that hungry. Often times we’ll start dreaming of unhealthy things when we’re starting to get the slightest bit hungry, or even just plain, old bored. Eat a piece of fruit, some raw almonds, baby carrots… anything you like, as long as it’s healthy. It will squash your hunger and keep you on track, buying yourself some much-needed time to mentally re-group before you make your next food choice. If you can’t talk yourself into eating something healthy, then you’re probably not truly hungry, and need to figure out what’s really causing your cravings.
3. Drink some tea. Maybe it’s just me, but when I sip a cup of tea, I instantly feel calmer and healthier. The soothing, warm liquid reminds me of how good it feels to take care of myself, and helps remind me of my goals.
4. Find a “fun” distraction. Some people binge on junk food because they associate it with being “fun.” Often times, a certain food can remind you of a pleasurable experience from your past. Instead, find something else to do that brings you pleasure. One of my favorites? Playing the Nintendo Wii! Not only does it distract me from my urge to eat, most games are pretty active– bonus calorie burn! Playing with your dog or meeting up with a friend also works!
5. Be aware of your “food cues.” For me, there are many. Overcast weather makes me crave cookies and hot chocolate, certain TV commercials make me crave pizza, chips and soda. Cues can be everywhere! When possible, avoid the cues you can (i.e. record your TV shows and fast forward through commercials), or when you can’t avoid them, try to develop a new behavior to associate with it. Now, when I see an overcast day, I try to imagine how nice it would be to read a good book, bundled in a cozy blanket with a mug of green tea.
6. Relax. Often times, binges result from some sort of anxiety. Take a hot shower or bath, light some candles, read a book or take a nap. Taking a nap is my favorite way to re-set my brain– you wake up refreshed and ready to get back on track!
7. Find a suitable substitute. Have you tried raw chocolate pudding? Or raw macaroons? How about banana soft-serve? With the abundance of quick and delicious, nutrient-dense treats out there, why are we still talking about junk food?! Do yourself a favor, and give them a try! You may never want a traditional dessert again!
And if all else fails, go ahead give into your craving! Maybe it won’t taste as good as you remember, and you can move on. Or maybe it is as good as you remember, and it’s worth it! Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up about it. One choice isn’t going to make you or break you–> your life is a series of choices, and it’s what you choose the majority of the time that matters.
And if you resist the urge, congratulations! You may have realized that whatever treat you wanted is not as important to you as your long-term goals. You just flexed your “discipline muscle!” Just like any other muscle, you have to train it before it gets strong, but eventually your old habits will become less and less tempting!