Is Emotional Eating Toying with your Emotions?

Did you know that hunger can actually be a (tacky) disguise for undesirable emotions? This means you might not be hungry, you could actually be stressed, bored, lonely, or anxious to name a few. Yikes! Annnnd, this type of hunger can be damaging to your health and wellness for more reasons than just unnecessary consumption. It can lead you to make poor decisions about what you put in your body. So not only will you eat when your body doesn’t need food, you’ll eat something lacking nutrition, feel guilty about it and the emotional void your body was tricking you into filling will remain empty.

But don’t fret, there’s a fix!

Mindful eating takes practice but once you create healthy eating habits, the destructive ones you used to do unknowingly will disappear.

First things first, how do can you tell if it’s ‘emotional’ hunger or ‘real’ hunger. Here are some quick tells:

  • Emotional hunger usually comes on rapidly. All of a sudden you need food now and you can’t stop thinking about it. Real hunger generally comes on gradually, you start to feel a bit of a grumble, then maybe your energy drops slightly, you start to think about food but aren’t panicked to eat immediately.
  • When you’re truly hungry, any food will satisfy you. When negative emotions are demanding attention, you’ll crave foods junk food, sugary options that’ll spike your blood sugar, and nothing else will do.
  • Emotional hunger doesn’t get full. Remember that time you looked down and realized you’d eaten an entire bag of M&M’s AND Swedish Berries without realizing it? That was your emotions making food decisions for you.
  • Signs of real hunger shows up in your belly and energy levels. Emotional hunger is largely in your head. You crave specific things, so much so that you can vividly image how they’ll taste and smell.
  • You don’t feel good about what you ate after giving in to emotional hunger. Guilt, remorse, shame, these yucky feelings show up when your mind tricked you into thinking that a tub of ice cream was exactly what you needed.

Mindful eating is a great combatant to emotional hunger.

Getting in tune with how your body feels when you consume different foods and paying attention to the differences mentioned above about emotional hunger vs. real hunger can help you make healthier choices and ultimately feel better.

Mindful eating tips:

  • Don’t stray from your grocery list. If it’s not accessible you won’t eat it. If salt & vinegar chips are your weakness don’t buy them. Instead, fill your fridge and pantry with healthy options that you like.
  • Eat without distraction. No phones or Netflix. Pay attention to what you are doing; taste your food, take a pause for a minute every few bites to let the food settle and to determine how satiated you are. Chew slowly, taste your food, take smaller bites.
  • Start with a smaller portion knowing you can go back for seconds. Take pause before you head to the stove for more, different foods can take various amounts of time to send signals to your hunger hormones about whether your body needs more or not.
  • Eat when you have an appetite, don’t wait until you’re starving. Coming to the table with extreme hunger can cause you to eat more than your body needs and to make unwise food choices.

At the end of the day be real and be kind to yourself.

Sometimes you just want Swedish Berries because you like them. As unhealthy as emotional eating can be, restricting yourself isn’t healthy either. Treating yourself is pleasurable, do it mindfully by putting a certain amount on a plate vs. settling in for a full season of House of Cards with an XL bag of Miss Vickies.

Lastly, when you observe emotional hunger, seek out tools for working through what’s causing it outside of the kitchen. It could mean talking to someone, exercising, relaxing with a good book and hot bath or having a dance party. Try out different methods until you find something that works for you!


How to Find Purpose in Daily Tasks to Increase Happiness & Productivity

Have you ever had one of those mornings where you wake up grinning and before your eyes are all the way open you're out of bed, head swirling with thoughts of how you're going to successfully rock your day?

Your mission is clear, you know what path you're on and you know what impact you're going to have.

And then you have mornings like this:

Pancakde Faceplant Oil and Grain.jpg

Yes, this morning pancake face plant could be due to a hangover BUT the cause I'm referring to is an unmotivated, lost, "what am I doing with my life" feeling.

According to Dan Pink, author of Drive, "if then rewards don't work". Intrinsic motivation does. The desire to do things because they matter, because we like it, because they're interesting drive us to perform more than rewards and punishments do. If money and fame were the solution to all of our problems we wouldn't hear about celebrities being depressed or see their self-destructive behavior on TMZ.

So if the pancake facial is a result of having to head to your 9-5 or whatever daily tasks lay ahead of you, you need to find purpose in them (or change them - which is a bigger purpose-filled conversation that we'll explore in a future post).

And trust me, I can relate. I'm unmotivated to do some of the tasks I need to do as part of my job. I get paid to do them, they're easy for me to do but the thought of doing them fills me with dread and I drag ass executing them. Why? Because they don't fulfill a purpose that resonates with me. You could pay me twice as much to do them and I would still feel the same way - and I know this for a fact because I have been paid twice as much to do them. It changed nothing.

So, how did I change this? By reframing my experience.

Face it, there's gonna be some things you just have to do, you can't change that but you can change how you look at it. It will take practice and commitment but isn't feeling happy worth it?  Need more motivation? Depression and stress cause sickness and disease, if you're health is important to you, then yes, it's worth it. Put on your favorite pair of heart shaped, rose colored glasses and look at the task from a different point of view.

Ask yourself how what you're doing is helping others.

Turn sifting through your emails from a soul-sucking project into an intrinsically rewarding one by adapting a different mindset. For example, turn replying to inane client questions about what banking solutions they should choose into a task that's helping others become wiser with their finances so they can put their kids through college without going into tremendous debt or working 2 jobs until their 70.

Find the sunshine.

According to Shawn Achor, “the reality you attach to the things going on in your life…changes how your brain responds to it” and “If you see your inbox as stressful, you’re much slower to respond to those emails and your stress rises. It’s inviting people to realize there are multiple realities in the moment and you can choose the most valuable one.”

Instead of seeing your full inbox as a pain in the rear, look at it as an opportunity to connect with others. Who might you meet via email, what opportunity might you be introduced to, who's life are you going to impact in a positive way simply by hitting 'reply'?

“When the human brain is positive, you’re 3x more creative, intelligence rises, and productivity rises by 31%.” ~Shawn Achor

In sum, put yourself in control of the situation or task, do not let it control you or dictate how you feel. Instead:

Ask yourself how the task is helping someone now or in the future. For bonus points write it down *by hand*

Write down the things you're grateful for that result from doing that task. (Ex: it's paying for a surprise trip to Disney land for your kids that they're going to remember for the rest of their lives)

Set a goal doing this task will help you achieve. Whether it's mastering a skill or funding a purchase.