Hey Folks! We’re excited to welcome Certified 21DSD Coach Keri Brewster. Keri’s article is part of a series of articles contributed by our Certified 21DSD Coaches. Enjoy! – Diane and Team
I’m going to tackle a topic near and dear to my own heart – emotional eating.
I often find that my clients aren’t just suffering from an addiction to sugar; they’re also suffering from using food to heal (or sometimes conceal) emotions. I know this feeling well as I used to struggle with emotional eating myself. Sugar was just the vehicle to help me “eat away my feelings.”
Some of my triggers were/are: get togethers with family, arguments with my husband over plans/money, raising teenagers, so on and so forth. When these things occurred, it wouldn’t be too long before you’d see me stuffing my face with all kinds of unhealthy foods and berating myself afterwards. I notice that things are different now. I've changed my relationship to food—yes, it can still bring me comfort, but (a) it's not wrecking my health and (b) I'm able to recognize when I shouldn't be eating.
I don't know if any of you have such an intimate relationship between food and emotions, but I have ever since I can remember. So the fact that I recognized that it was a problem and actively worked to sever that relationship is nothing short of miraculous.
According to Wikipedia, emotional eating is defined as: “ ‘an increase in food intake in response to negative emotions’ and can be considered a maladaptive strategy used to cope with difficult feelings.”
That description fits me perfectly. While I have good memories that are triggered by the smell of my Grandma’s home cooking, emotional eating usually had a negative side for me. I would eat when I was lonely, sad or even angry in an attempt to literally stuff my feelings. It's an insane cycle, but I didn't know any better until I faced it head on and learned to deal with my emotions rather than stuffing them. The question remains, how do you deal with your negative (or sometimes even positive) emotions when you're used to using food as a buffer?
First off, you have to recognize that you're doing it. Just like any other problem in your life, if you don't think it's a problem, you can't begin the work it takes to solve it. Keep a journal, talk to a trusted friend and get their honest feedback, maybe even talk to your doctor or a nutritionist.
Learn how to handle your negative emotions in a more positive way. Does this mean to ignore your negative feelings? Absolutely not. What I mean is, learn to express negative emotions in a more meaningful way, especially if you need to express them to someone else. Or, if you're like me, learn to be okay with having negative emotions. I didn’t feel safe expressing them growing up, so this was something else I needed to learn.
Find ways to celebrate things without involving food. This is difficult, but not impossible. It might even involve telling people no. One of the easiest ways to do this is through gift cards or pampering. Find out what stores the people in your life like or try to find out something that they'd never buy for themselves, and get that for them. Family celebrations can be just as much fun at the nail salon as at the buffet.
Do any of you struggle with emotional eating? Share your tips for overcoming emotional eating below and help out your fellow 21-Day Sugar Detoxers!
Keri Brewster is a CHEK certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach who, like many others before her, was addicted to sugar—not just in the physical sense, but it also had a psychological hold on her.
Through the 21-Day Sugar Detox, she has learned what it takes to overcome emotional eating and completing the 21-Day Sugar Detox in a busy family. She can help you integrate the program into the busiest of families.
She especially enjoys helping working moms come up with quick and easy solutions to common roadblocks that come up during the program.