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Getting Control of Emotional Eating: My Secret Strategies for Getting off the Out of Contol Roller Coaster

By Ritamarie Loscalzo

emotional eating and cravings roller coaster

emotional eating and cravings roller coasterHave you ever felt like you’re on a roller coaster when it comes to your health habits?  You know what to do, but you don’t always seem to be able to follow through?

You’re not alone.  This is a problem shared by many.  So quit chastising yourself.

Comfort eating most likely started when you were very little. Some well meaning adult offered you a lollipop to soothe the hurt when you scraped your knee. You felt better and a neural pathway was created. The event was repeated and the pathway got reinforced. Now every time you feel a certain way, you reach for food to soothe the associated emotions.

I know it often feels like it’s out of control and you’ll never be able to stop the roller coaster long enough to get steady, but, in my two decades plus of clinical experience, I’ve noticed that many people do succeed at getting off the out of control ride and achieve the energy, strength and excellent health they desire.

Today I’m going to share a few tips from Chapter 5 the Vibrant Health Mindset Course I created witht eh help of Registered Dietitian and nutrition counselor Jane Harden, RD, LD, MS .   We have devoted a large part of a chapter to techniques you can use right away to tame the emotional eating demon and get your diet habits under control.  Ready?

Here’s a short-cut process to use when you’re caught unprepared for the situation at hand, and can be used to get you out of trouble.  It might take a few attempts to get this to work because the emotional eating response is burned into your brain.

Strategies for Overcoming Emotional Eating

The first step is to identify the emotion you’re feeling that has caused you to turn to food for comfort.

1- Are you tired? It’s very common for people to turn to food when feeling weary.  The problem is, the food usually makes the tiredness worse.  If you’ve identified that you’re tired, take a break.  Even sitting quietly and closing your eyes for just 5 minutes could offer the refreshment you need.

2- Are you lonely? Eating when lonely is a common reaction, yet once the food is gone, the loneliness returns.  If  you discover that you’re lonely, call a friend, go for a walk and talk to a neighbor or go to a health food store and strike up a conversation in the produce aisle.  You never know when a new best friend is ready to appear in your life.  If loneliness is a common situation, join a meetup group in an area of interest.  There are hundreds of groups on all interests –  art , music, hobbies, health…you name it.

3- Are you angry? Many of my clients and patients reach for food to stuff their anger.  Instead, work trough the anger.  If you are unable to confront the target of your anger directly, write a letter.  Even if you never send it, you’ll experience relief.

Work through the list…there are really only 4 emotions…all others fall into one of these categories.  Here’s an easy way to remember them – they rhyme:  scared, mad, glad, sad.   What causes you to eat emotionally?  Once you create new behaviors in response to the emotional triggers, you’ll create new neural pathways and the emotional eating  pathway will shrivel from disuse.

Outsmart Your  Cravings

Here’s an example of a worksheet we’ll be sharing during the live teleclass training portion of the Vibrant Health Mindset process.  Complete this in advance so when emotional eating strikes, you’re prepared.

  1. Make a list of the emotions  and the circumstances that trigger emotional eating. Is it visiting your mother, going to restaurants with friends, fights with your partner? What situations (and feelings they illicit) are most likely to trigger you to soothe yourself with food?
  2. Once you’ve identified the emotions, make a list of the foods that you’d typically turn to to soothe your pain.
  3. Describe how you feel after eating the food(s).
  4. Describe what, if any, physical or emotional symptoms eating these foods causes in the short term.
  5. Make a list of what continuing to eat these foods may keep you from achieving in the long term?  (ie vibrant health, strength, stamina, clean arteries, exotic vacations, enjoying your grandchildren, etc
  6. List at least 3 things you can do instead to soothe the bad feelings?

Here’s where you can use the fun list activity we teach in an earlier chapter .

Using this technique alone can help a lot.

To deepen the process and learn much more about the steps to creating a mindset that results in vibrant health, join us for the Vibrant health Mindset e-course and teleseminar series.  It’s a life changing process.


The Video below will give you an idea about the class.

Question of the Day:  what do you do to handle strong and uncomfortable emotions?

Answer below.

Love, health and Joy

Dr. Ritamarie

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Medical Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, drritamarie.com, and the experts who have contributed. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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