Day 7 - Learning to Cope With Your Emotions Without Using Food

Today is all about learning to cope with your emotions without using food. Heads up: my take on this is a little different than most.....

But first, how was yesterday? Did you eat something pleasurable? Did your brain explode? Did your waistband??

My hope is that the answer is YESSSS! and then NOOOOO!
That you can get a tiny glimpse into a world where delicious, incredible food is the norm.

Because life is too short to eat rubbery low fat mozarella. #tweetit!
Jk. I do not even understand what Twitter actually is;)

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Okay...so there are TWO things I need you to understand:
1. Emotional eating is normal.

In Linda Bacon's book: Health at Every Size she highlights the fact that even unrestrained eaters (people who don't diet, never have, aren't trying to control their weight) eat emotionally. As mentioned in the previous post on pleasure: Emotional eating is a valid part of the eating experience.

That said, it has been found that those in diet mentality (the mentality ruled by all of those black/white, good/bad, rule-y thoughts I've been trying to get you to dump) emotionally eat much more often that those who don't diet. This is a big, important concept to grasp, if you want to end your addiction to numbing out with food. It's not clear why the correlation exists but I think it makes sense that, if you spend your entire day thinking about food and stressing about food, you create tension in your body and brain. And then, when the tension becomes too much - because of the multiple stressors in your life - food becomes the pressure valve that blows.

This is to say that ALLLL that other work we've been doing: making peace with food, rejecting diet mentality, hushing up the food police, etc are all important steps to reducing emotional eating.

2. Emotional Eating is a REALLY good coping mechanism
I've said it in a previous email but I'll say it again: food really can, very effectively, take you from a state of stress into a state of relaxation - eat enough and you'll get there. There are consequences, sure, but that doesn't stop food from being a fast, cheap, readily available and effective sedative.

If you want to reduce your emotional eating you are going to have to build new coping mechanisms.....and that's going to take time. It's not something that happens over night and you aren't going to be able to stop resorting to food as a tool until you have other, stronger - equally compelling - tools in your tool belt.

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Your Homework

1. Understand that getting out of diet mentality (that encourages and amplifies emotional eating) is really getting to the root of the problem. Keep working the tools from days 1-6.

2. Start to build new coping mechanisms....WHILE YOU CONTINUE TO EAT EMOTIONALLY. It's the only way. If you think you can simply replace an old and trusted way of coping (i.e. cookies) with something new (i.e a hot bath or meditation) while in the midst of difficult emotions or stress, you are in for unpleasant surprise. We humans don't like to change that easily.

Instead, I want you to think about DIVERSIFYING your coping mechanisms - so the next time you find yourself using food to manage feelings, add on a new coping technique - eat the cookies AND have a hot bath, eat the cookies AND got for a walk and get some fresh air, eat the cookies AND meditate - hell, eat the cookies while meditating. I don't care.

The main thing here is to start to slowly build the muscle of "coping without food". And then, as you work to leave diet mentality behind, and this new muscle grows, you will soon find you can cope with difficult moments without cookies (or with FEWER cookies).