Ending Emotional Eating

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In a previous blog post I talked about Understanding Emotional Eating. Now that you know the definition it is time to explore what to do to end it. Emotional eating is eating when you are not physically hungry and it is used to calm or push down emotions. Many emotions can trigger emotional eating: sadness, loneliness, boredom, or anger.  Some signs that you could be emotionally eating are when you are looking for food after a stressful situation or some triggering event, or you are eating and getting overly full often. In order to determine the emotion, it takes a little detective work. I call it getting curious. Ask yourself, “why am I wanting sugary food when I am not hungry; what could be going on?” Then get silent for a moment and check inside.  I like to take a deep breath at that point in time. Then ask yourself, “how am I feeling?” happy, sad, mad, scared, or anxious. Then ask yourself, “What can I do right now to handle this feeling?” Some ideas are:

  1. Walk around the block. If you are at work, walk to the bathroom. The point is, just move.
  2. Write a little in a journal that can be in the form of a binder, little tablet in your purse, or on your phone (I have a phone app that lets me write in a journal).
  3. Talk to a trusted person and let them know how you are feeling.

During this process, I like to tell myself that I can have the food if I really want, but only after I figure out what is going on. Generally, by the time I figure out what I was feeling I am no longer hungry. Those food cravings are really a call to look deeper at what is going on inside of you. When you do not take that opportunity to consider the emotions underneath the food craving, you are reinforcing that overeating is a solution. The problem is that the food is not the solution to your feelings. It does not really solve the issue and can make it worse, because you end up feeling overfull, guilty that you overate, and possibly depriving yourself of food at your next meal.

Emotional eating is actually helpful, because it is a call to check back in with yourself- as long as you use it that way. If you do engage in emotional overeating, just move forward. Check in with yourself to understand what happened and what feeling you were trying to subside and move on. Guilt can be your worst enemy and lead to additional overeating.  Be kind to yourself and begin to understand your emotional eating. It can help you put food back in its proper place as nourishment for your body.

Do you have tools that help you end emotional eating? We would love to hear them. Let us know in the comments below.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders.  If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her hereSign up for her FREE Top Tips to End Emotional Eating here. Check out her website at www.FeedYourSoulTherapy.com.

Spring Cleaning: Let it Go!

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I have a confession. There are clothes in my closet that I have not worn in many, many years. I look at those items most days and move through to the next article of clothing that I know I will want to wear. I know that having clothing that I do not wear can be an energy drain. The clothing that I do not wear have some things in common:

  1. They do not fit comfortably.
  2. I do not like the style or I do not think I look good in that particular style.
  3. They look old.

I know having clothing in my closet that I won’t wear is not good for me. It reminds me of mistakes in buying that I made. It reminds me I wasted money. It reminds me of something I do not like.clothes

Clothes I am letting go of.

What you will not find in my closet are clothes that do not fit me because the size is too large or too small. I have found those are the clothes that used to remind me that I was not the size I wanted to be.  Also, sometimes I would keep clothing from when I was larger, just in case I regained the weight. I would keep the clothing because when I started my next diet, I would then be able to fit into them. I felt burdened by those clothes and ashamed that I had yet again gained weight. I have since learned the value of having clothing that fits me as I am right now. For me, living in the reality of the present moment helps me to consider being a little better in the next moment. I know there are people who will say that keeping the clothing that is too small is motivation to lose weight. That has not been my experience. I found that keeping those clothes that are too small remind me that I have not been successful.

So now I am cleaning my closet and finding that there are other clothes that feel like a burden to me, because I know I have not worn them for ages. As I am sorting these clothes something interesting is happening; I am resistant to letting them go. I am unsure if I want to get rid of them. I think, maybe I will wear them some day.   I’m noticing the emotion of guilt for buying clothing that I really do not like. How could I do that? I now realize that when I shop for clothing, I can tend to get what I think I should like.

As I take this step to let go of what I do not want, I can begin to feel the freedom of keeping around me only items that celebrate me and how I want to look.

This is my new commitment. I will:

  • Shop in a more leisurely manner (no kids, no time table).
  • Buy clothing that makes me feel good, not what I think I should wear.
  • Let go of clothing that does not suit me.

I am focused on moving forward and find that having clothing that celebrates me right now is positive and helps me achieve this goal. Lately, I have been teaching my clients the idea that positivity propels us forward and negativity propels us backwards. Since I want to move forward, I am inviting a positive mindset which includes discarding items that I do not use (including clothing).

Do you have a closet with clothing that you have not worn in over a year?  Do you have clothing that you are waiting to wear when you lose weight? Consider letting it go! Let us know below that you are going to take a step to clean out your closet.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders.  If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her hereSign up for her FREE Top Tips to End Emotional Eating here. Check out her website at www.FeedYourSoulTherapy.com.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Tips to End the Fear of Bathing Suit Shopping

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I love to swim, so recently I went shopping for a bathing suit. I knew it could bring up some negative thoughts. I decided the good feeling I get from swimming was more important than any negative feeling about trying on a bathing suit. I survived and got a suit that will fit my needs.

Soon after that shopping experience, I read an article about a study of women’s perception about themselves in bathing suits.  The researcher, Marika Tiggemann (a psychologist at Flinders University in Australia) found that women feel more negative about their bodies when they are in the store trying on bathing suits as compared when they are wearing their bathing suit in public. She concluded that the negative thoughts were triggered by the bright lights, the intense look at the body and the large mirrors.

Here are some ideas to survive the trip to the store to try on bathing suits:

  1. Don’t spend too much time at the mirror.
  2. Counteract the negative voices that might be telling yourself that your body is not OK.
  3. Remember the fun you will have swimming.
  4. Don’t focus on the size of the suit (it is really just a number).

Many women feel self-conscious about their bodies, and being in a bathing suit can really magnify those negative thoughts.

I guess the option is to not go swimming, which I am sad to say many choose to avoid being seen in a bathing suit. My desire to swim is much greater than any self-conscious feelings I have. Maybe you are like me, considering myself a work in progress and trying to improve feelings about my body, knowing that swimming is great outdoor activity that leads to increased health and self-esteem. Hey come on and join me at the pool, the water is great! Do have any bathing suit purchase experiences? Let us know below.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders.  If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her hereSign up for her FREE Top Tips to End Emotional Eating here. Check out her website at www.FeedYourSoulTherapy.com.

This Mother’s Day: Ask For What You Want

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This year for Mother’s Day I decided I would ask for what I want. I was specific about the whole thing: where I want to go, what I want to do, and where I want to eat. I have morning, noon, and night mapped out. Normally I go with the flow and do not get so specific. I realized how much I was relying on my family to read my mind and figure out what I really wanted to do and I would sometimes be a little disappointed and resentful when plans weren’t what I thought they should be.

I decided I was not going to beat around the bush this year nor make little subtle suggestions; I was going to outright ask for what I wanted. I think sometimes we expect our partners, family members, or our children to know what we want. I have to remind myself that they cannot read my mind.

Do you ever really ask for what you want? I know that “no” is the response the other can give, but I decided it was important to at least ask specifically for what I wanted.

If you are a mother and have a specific idea about how you want to spend Mother’s Day, ask for it. You deserve to ask for what you want. If your mother, wife, or partner has not told you what she wants to do, ask her. She might surprise you with her answer.

Here’s to all the mothers. I plan to have a great day because I am going to do exactly what I want. What do you plan to do? I would love to hear what you have in store for Mother’s Day. Feel free to post it below.

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders.  If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her hereSign up for her FREE Top Tips to End Emotional Eating here. Check out her website at www.FeedYourSoulTherapy.com.

Are You a “Normal Eater?”

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So many people struggle with eating issues whether they are binge eaters, emotional eaters or not. This struggle begs the question, what is “normal eating?” Below is a good check list (given to me by Mary McCloy RN, LMFT) to see if you are a normal eater.

  1. Go to the table hungry and eat until satisfied.
  2. Eat nutritious foods, but don’t be restrictive.
  3. Eat 3 meals a day or 4-5 or eat all day long. You decide.
  4. Leave the food/table when you don’t want more.
  5. Food does not take up all of your time/energy, except when you are eating.
  6. You eat and then you are done. You don’t think about eating again until you are hungry.

I had never thought about how a “normal eater” eats. You might find there could be more added to this list or some you do not agree with. The point is that eating is very individual and normal is also individually interpreted. I do know that “normal eating” involves a lack of obsession and compulsion and a lack of constant vigilance. It is a process of nourishing your body. If this is tough for you to do, it could be time to seek support.

Are you or someone you know a “normal eater?” What are the signs you see in a normal eater?

Kim McLaughlin, MA is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in helping people with eating issues and eating disorders.  If you are concerned that about overeating, weight or your use of food in general please contact her hereSign up for her FREE Top Tips to End Emotional Eating here. Check out her website at www.FeedYourSoulTherapy.com.