No, I’m not talking about ogling over Idris Elba for 2 1/2 hours (however tempting), I’m talking about the long and rocky road to freedom from food addiction. Let me begin…
Hello, my name in Nicola and I am an addict.
Ok, I may be a little dramatic with my reference but there is no doubt in my mind that we all (to some extent) are undergoing a sordid affair with food. From TV shows such as secret eaters and my own experiences with midnight munchies! But don’t worry, I’m here to tell you that there is a way to become free from food.
Most of us (all of us if we were willing to admit it) make food choices that are influenced by our emotions. This may be the case for some more than others but if we truly thought about the reasons we stick our hands in the biscuit tin, I guarantee you its most likely because of that snide comment from the shop assistant at the supermarket or the lecture you received on your latest project at work. Think about it – can you relate? Oh, and let’s not forgot Boredom, the worst emotion of them all!
I have read all of the girly magazine articles that advise you to ‘drink a glass of water before choosing to snack’ or ‘go for a walk’. And yes, dehydration is very often mistaken for hunger and going for a walk can most definitely help you to work out whatever issues you may be experiencing at that moment, but realistically, leaving my desk at 3pm in the afternoon is not the most convenient time to get up and head out for a walk…
Instead, here’s some of the tools that I use to try and figure out my cravings in the moment whilst arming myself with the knowledge to recognise and attribute my cravings in the future.
1. Identify your emotional triggers
You’re dying for a big packet of biscuits or that family sized packet of Doritos… Why?
Take a moment to stop and consider what it is you want to eat. Is it something that will benefit your body or something thats nutritionally void? Likelihood is, if it’s no good for you then you want it to satisfy an emotional need.
The next step is to think about how you are feeling in that moment. What has just preceded that moment or what is imminently about to happen? Jot down three emotions that you are feeling, what are they, why do you think you are feeling them? Is there anything you could do to overcome these feelings without giving in to your cravings. This is my own adaption of cognitive behavioural therapy, practicing alternative perspectives to how you see/experience certain situations and creating constructive roadmaps to manoeuvre them.
Sounds like a lot of work? It is. This will be harder than eating rubbish or even harder than going for a walk and ignoring whatever the issue might be. Don’t be discouraged – this is a process, not a destination. Over time by keeping track of these events and feelings you may see patterns emerge that reveal negative eating patterns and triggers to avoid. Healthy wellbeing will always be a process.
A great example of this is Jason Vale. In his book ‘5lbs in 5 days’ he explains how many people fail at weight loss because they tell themselves the ‘can’t’ have something. He goes on to explain that you can have anything you desire, only you don’t want it. That’s why you’re here, reading this blog and making plans for a healthier lifestyle.
2. Deal with your stress
No man is an island. We all need a tight support network of friends or family or both! By reaching out to others you are getting the emotional support you crave. Try enlisting a friend for support, you can make a deal to send a daily text for motivation. What is your major trigger? Is it a particular time of day or event? Have your friend send you a text at that particular time to help you over the hump and you can do the same for them.
When you are stressed, whether you give in to cravings or not, your body produces an excess amount of the “stress hormone” Cortisol. This disruption not only contributes to weight gain but it tends to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area. This is known as “toxic fat” because of the pressure it puts on your internal organs – contributing to cardiovascular disease. So by not seeking help or ignoring your triggers (walking it off etc), you end up running round the seven circles of hell. Not only putting on weight with the extra calories you may be consuming but also holding on to more in the most unflattering of areas!
This is probably the only tip I have for you that does take some dedication and isn’t always possible in the “real world”.
Focus on your food when you eat – pay attention to what you’re eating. Don’t talk on the phone or watch TV or work at your desk while you eat. Focus on the taste, the texture, the amount. Doing so can help you identify when you are truly satisfied, rather than eating mindlessly until you are “stuffed!”.
You will also be able to understand how different food make you feel – what leaves you feeling bloated or lethargic. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you are allergic or intolerant to that particular food but it may indicate that it simply doesn’t “agree” with you. By doing so you will feel better and may even lose a few pounds through water retention.
Keep your food clean
Keep your portions small
Eat little and often
If you would like help with any of the subject above, feel free to get in contact via the comments below.