I recently asked some of my readers what I should talk about on my next blog. I got a couple of answers that I found interesting because of how they overlap. One asked me how to deal with guilt over bad food choices, and one asked how to deal with emotional eating. These two questions really do overlap, and they effect many people on the weight loss journey.
I have spoken of emotional eating before, and the vicious cycle that it can start.
You feel bad about something, so you make some bad food choices, which makes you feel guilty and full of remorse, so you eat more. This makes you feel bad and the cycle continues.
Bad food choices are when we pick foods that are not healthy or beneficial either for healthy living or weight loss. In this case it often means that the CHOICE was bad, not the food itself. What’s the difference?
As soon as we label a food as bad, we attach guilt to that food, and the emotions as well. Let me clarify.
Having a small ice cream cone (one of my weaknesses) ONCE IN A WHILE is OK as long as it doesn’t become every day or a giant double dipper cone when you do have one.
Do you like chocolate? Allow yourself to have it once in a while, but a good quality chocolate (dark is best for you) and really savour it. I buy dark chocolate bars and break them into squares of no more than 1 ounce. When I eat those, I let them melt slowly in my mouth rather than just chew and they’re gone.
A lot of times we can avoid emotional eating if we look at what is causing us to make these bad choices. For example, we have had a bad day, so we decide to dive into a quart of ice cream or a jumbo bag of chips.
Maybe we need to ask ourselves a few questions. Like for instance “Why do I feel this way?” “Am I over reacting?” and most importantly “Is this bag of chips going to do ANYTHING to fix the problem?” Another question to ask is “How long will it take or what do I have to do to burn this off?”
So how does this relate back to the original questions?
Let’s say you make a bad food choice for whatever reason. It happens. It is NOT the end of the world nor is it the end of your weight loss journey. Stop the cycle illustrated above before it begins.
You may regret the bad decision, but don’t let it lead to eating more, and feeling guilty for doing so. You have to acknowledge it, but you don’t have to dwell on it. “Darn it. I intended to have a healthy snack but I had a chocolate bar, 2 bags of chips and 12 cookies” OK maybe you didn’t have all that, but whatever you had, you need to say this instead.
“That was not the healthy snack I intended to have, but the day is not over. I am going to get right back on track because I know I can better.”
I have to say this, and please hear me out. If you have some major emotional issues that cause you to constantly overeat no matter how hard you try to stop yourself, you may need to seek some outside help. It may be a trusted friend to talk to all the way to a diet coach or even a counselor or other professional help. If you need professional help, by all means seek it out.
As for the issue of bad choices as opposed to bad food, look at the other illustration above. It is labelled “More of these and Less of these”. It does not say NONE of these. Something I heard Richard Simmons say a long time ago is that if we say I am never going to eat (fill in the blank) ever again, that is the food we will fall off the wagon and binge on. Moderation is key.
For example, I like to use snack size Ziploc bags to take snacks when I go out, even sometimes sneaking food into the movies because let’s face it, there are often no real healthy choices at the movies. That could be the subject of another whole blog post.(I know – I am a terrible human being for smuggling snacks)
I also recently went to my local dollar store and bought some really nice little reusable containers to hold a snack size amount of veggies or nuts or other healthy snack that I take to work or to shows.
When I am out of town at a hotel when performing or on holidays, I try to get a fridge in my room and find a local grocery store to buy stuff to make meals. Eating out in restaurants is a nice treat now and then but if you spend a lot of time on the road, it can get to be “the same old – same old” not to mention a lot of meals with grease, fat and other unhealthy stuff.
It really does come down to a little pre-planning and sticking with it. You can have a plan ahead of time to deal with negative emotions before they turn to an eating binge. These can be negative emotions about a bad day or negative emotions about what you just ate.
You can make a plan ahead of time to make good choices so you won’t deal with the emotional consequences of bad ones. For example, when I know I am going out to eat with a group of friends, I try to find out the restaurant ahead of time and through the wonder of the internet, I can often find the menu online.
This lets me do some pre-planning as to what I am going to eat. It lessens the chance I will make bad decisions, and experience the guilt of a bad choice. Another little hint if you are eating out with a group – order first.
If you order first you will be less swayed by what others order. You won’t deal with the “oh that sounds really good, I will have the same.”
Be proud of yourself when you make those healthy choices. Be proud of yourself for having the courage to share with a friend the struggles you are having around food. Feeling proud is better than feeling guilty any day.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!