Emotional Eating: 5 Tips for a Lifelong Challenge

by : Carol Solomon, Ph.d.

Here's a note from my inbox:

Hi Carol,

Thank you so much for this week's newsletter. I have often saidthat food (simple carbs and sugar) are as addictive as drugs andalcohol. Although, I try not to limit myself to a low-carblifestyle (I now know that restricting any food only backfires),I do know that eating just one cookie is extremely difficult forme.

I know that eating a bagel, even a low-carb bagel, is going toleave me feeling like I want more to eat even though I may notbe hungry. I often feel like the alcoholic who cannot have justone drink. I am still trying to balance not restricting anyfoods with the reality of the reaction that I know my body willhave if I have simple carbs.

This emotional eating is truly a life long challenge for me andI am not sure that I will ever get to the point where I feelcompletely at ease about eating. I have gained weight over thesummer. I feel like I won the battle but I have lost the war.

Luckily, there is always a new day and although today wasn'tperfect (I did manage to have just one cookie--although it wasthe size of my hand--it wasn't the worst either.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. Thank you for everything. DR

Dear DR,

Thanks for your note. It can certainly feel like a war when youare trying to find peace with yourself and your urges. It isalways harder to unlearn habits, especially when they result intemporary comfort.

I think the hardest part of this is giving yourself permissionto eat, without feeling terrified of what will happen when youdo. It takes time to develop trust in yourself. It also takessupport over time.

IDEALLY, you will become able to give yourself permission to eatanything AND choose foods that feel good in your body. You havealready developed an awareness of how different foods impactyour body and your cravings.

So you are making progress.

Feeling like you have a CHOICE, and honoring what feels good inyour body is empowering.

While I don't know if you will ever feel completely at ease, youcan get to the point where you are:

1. not beating yourself up

2. know that you can get back on track quickly, and . . .

3. not feeling so discouraged when you have a lapse

Here's some tips to help you along the way:

1. Be sure to acknowledge your successes (no matter how small).

2. Cheer yourself on for the smallest win.

3. Share your successes with a friend, someone who understandsyour struggle.

4. Keep a journal of what went well, and why - it is importantto keep a positive focus, and NOTICE and ACKNOWLEDGE yourselffor what you did that worked.

5. Practice relaxing around food as much as you can - it's justfood . . . really. Try to be calm, purposeful and present inyour body. Don't forget to breathe and be grateful for what youhave.