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Minute 1: Stay Grounded
Emotional eating happens when you lose your connection to your grounded self. Stress itself is not what makes you reach for something to eat. In fact, stress is often a good thing and your grounded self knows this! We need the physical stress of exercise to keep our bodies in good shape just as we need the stress of intellectual and emotional challenges to keep our minds healthy.
Nine times out of ten, what really leads to emotional eating is getting caught in a "mind storm" of worst-case scenarios, projections, misinterpretations, and all the emotional overreactions that come with these thoughts. This "storm" turns a manageable challenge into something that makes you feel helpless, overwhelmed, ashamed or afraid—and sends you to the kitchen to find something to stuff those extreme feelings. When you can stay grounded in the moment of stress, you have many more options.
Here are some simple ideas to keep you grounded when something (or someone) pushes your buttons and your feelings start to spiral out of control:
Take a few deep breaths. (You can also count to 10, if that helps.) If the stressful situation involves someone else, take a timeout and agree to continue the discussion in a few minutes.
Remind yourself where you are. Take a look around, noticing and naming the colors and shapes in the space around you.
Notice the physical sensations you are experiencing. Whether it's a sinking feeling, turmoil in your stomach, tension in your hands or jaw, restricted breathing, or heat on the back of your neck, try to name the feelings that go with the sensation. Is that sinking feeling fear, or dread? Is the heat a symptom of anger?
The idea here is to stay in your body and in the moment—with what’s real—instead of going inside your mind where all those unreal scenarios are just waiting to get spun out-of-control.
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant.
See all of Dean's articles.
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