The holidays are officially here and that usually means lots of cheer. We eat with family and friends for regular meals but also to celebrate. Sometimes we eat just because we can – which is comforting.
Comfort eating and stress eating are things we often hear about (and maybe even do), but is it a real thing or just an excuse to eat more food?
When we feel sad or down about something or even just bored, eating can often help us feel better. Grabbing a bag of our favorite treats, eating a large pizza with friends or snacking on some nibbles in bed can lift our spirits, but usually only temporarily. When you've finished eating bad foods, it's rare not to feel sluggish, tired and even worse about yourself.
Why do some people participate in emotional eating?
For most of us, we've grown up with bad foods being used at treats. Most of our parents didn’t offer us carrots and apples when we got a great report at school or behaved well all day. Many children grow up associating good behavior and good times with junk food. On birthdays, we go out to a restaurant and celebrate with our friends, making unhealthy choices most of the time. We have birthday cakes full of sugar and don't even feel bad about it, because after all, it's our birthday! This habit that makes us associate junk food with happy occasions and feeling good is one of the main reasons why people eat emotionally.
Another reason why chocolate and sweet foods tend to be the ones we reach for first is because sugar is addictive and gives us temporary pleasure. While we're eating sweet foods, we experience high levels of enjoyment, which is why we reach for the candy and sugary snacks when we're sad.
How do you know whether or not your emotions are tied to your eating habits?
When you feel low, do you eat your favorite foods to feel better? If so, it's very possible that your emotions are tied to your eating habits. Are you more likely to make healthier choices when you're happy? This is another indication that your emotions are playing a big part in your diet. Food should provide healthy nutrition for our body, and shouldn't be used as a tool to help us feel happier (especially if you're binge eating or gorging on junk food).
How can you detach your emotions from your eating habits?
The holidays can bring about a lot of stress so detaching your emotions from your eating habits can be difficult to do as it takes a lot of time and effort. One of the best things which will help you with this is to find other things that make you feel better when you're down and/or stressed.
Go play, find a sport you enjoy and start or join a game, listen to some good music and dance around the house, go for a walk or do some yoga or other exercise; and if you're tempted to reach for the snacks, make sure you keep healthier options available to choose from such as fruit, raw vegetables or low-calorie crackers and rice cakes. Sometimes our emotions can get the best of us, but if you have a plan in place with all the activities and healthy snacks loaded in your arsenal, you’ll find yourself ahead of the game.
We live in a fear-based world. We are taught to “do as you would be done by” or to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet in the next instant, we are told that thinking of ourselves, of putting ourselves first, is “selfish.” On top of these contradictory and confusing messages, we often receive the message as little children that we are “not good enough” or that we are “unlovable.”
We can be our own worst critics and may not even be aware of how hard on ourselves we are being. Our internal automatic negative thoughts become unconscious; yet they have a power that is not to be underestimated. They can lead to low mood, depression and anxiety.
There is hope, however. With commitment and practice, it is possible to discover these negative automatic thoughts (NATs) and to transform them into thoughts stemming from kindness, compassion, and self-love. Our thoughts are so powerful that they can change our chemical make-up.
Here is a simple meditation exercise that you can do that will transform within minutes the way you feel about yourself. Try it and see for yourself. Notice how you feel before you do the exercise and notice how you feel afterwards.
With consistent practice, you can truly change your most important relationship: your relationship with yourself. Then you can watch how your relationships with others transform for the better as you experience the power of loving yourself.
Notice how your inner state has transformed. Tell yourself a positive statement such as “I am worthy of love”, or “I am loveable exactly as I am.”
The above meditation is a version of the ancient Taoist Inner Smile meditation as taught by Master Mantak Chia. It is one of the most foundational practices for developing self-love and as Master Chia himself says, “Love heals.”
Registered clinical counsellor Elizabeth Morelle says that this, combined with the practice of changing negative thoughts as they arise can be very health giving. “It is an investment of time that is well worth the effort,” she says.
Changing negative thoughts is one aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been found in studies to be at least as effective as medication in reducing symptoms such as pain and negative mood in patients with fibromyalgia.
Loving yourself is an art that can work wonders for your self-esteem, your confidence, and your well-being.
Let me know how loving yourself changes things for you!
In today's world, our hours are busy and full. Meetings, classes, work, house maintenance, children, pets, and more take up our time. However, thru it all, you must remember to take care of yourself first, even though it can be hard.
You are the best advocate of yourself and because of that you must support yourself and keep your best interests in mind at all times. Here are five actions that you can take to support yourself.
Take Care of the Basics
It might sound silly and may even make you roll your eyes, but you must take care of the basics. Your body is a machine that needs energy, rest, and maintenance.
● Rest: Try to make sure that you get adequate rest every night. Not getting enough hours can harm you but never getting out of bed isn't good either. If you have trouble sleeping, don't spend much time on your phone before bed, make your room ideal for sleeping with appropriate noises and light settings, and get a comfortable bed, a comfy set of sheets, and nightclothes (or better, sleep in the nude, it’s healthier than you might know).
● Energy: Make sure that you are getting enough water throughout the day. Soda, coffee, and energy drinks may be tasty, but they aren't as healthy for you. In addition to water, making sure that you are eating appropriately from your food pyramid can help keep you feeling good throughout the day.
● Maintenance: Partake in regular exercise. Whether that's going for a walk, riding a bicycle, or going for a swim, make sure to move your body with intention every day if possible. Listen to your body. If you are experiencing problems mentally or physically, go see a doctor or other medical professional.
Click the button below and schedule a discovery session with me if you would like help with creating your own personal self-support plan.
Focus On Your Hobbies
It would be great if everyone loved their jobs, but for a lot of people, that's just not the case. During your free time when you aren't working, make sure to spend time doing your hobbies.
These are the things you do because they make you happy. They don't have to earn money or be useful. Their purpose is to satisfy your soul. So, whether that is rock climbing, drawing, knitting, singing, playing a sport, collecting, dancing, scrapbooking, or something else, take time to do it.
Spend Time in Nature
Going for a simple walk outside can be great for you. Scheduling picnics, hikes, or nature walks is a great way to take care of yourself. Being among the land, animals, and plants is a great way to soothe your soul and remind you of your place in the world. Look up the state parks near your area or visit your local park. Most naturalist public places are either low-cost or free.
Discover Your Personality
It is hard to know what is best for yourself if you don't know yourself. Taking one or more personality quizzes can help you to understand your strengths and weaknesses as well as what kind of person you are. Knowing this information can help you better navigate work, relationships, career paths, and more.
There are a multitude of personality tests available on the internet. Some are free while others have a small fee. Some popular ones are the Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, and HIGH5 Test. Each test is different and tests for different things. What you want to know about yourself will determine what test you should take.
Make a Plan for the Future
It can be easy to just float through life, not worried about making progress or moving forward. While this may be easy, it is not helpful. A great way to take care of yourself and grow as a person is to plan for the future.
Where do you want to be in five years? How do you want your life to look? Will it look different than it is now and in what ways? Your plans don't have to be to buy a new house or remodel your bathroom.
It can be as simple as planning to buy a new toaster or planting flowers around your home. Looking towards the future can help you take steps of advancement and avoid being stuck in one place.
All five actions of taking care of the basics, focusing on your hobbies, spending time in nature, discovering your personality, and making a future plan are great ways to support yourself. In order to thrive in this life, you need to have your basic needs met.
You need a hobby fueling your soul. You need to reconnect with the Earth. You need to understand yourself. And you need to have thoughts and plans about the road ahead of you. These five actions will help you to support yourself.
I help people every day as an integrative life coach put action steps into place to make themselves a priority. If you’d like more information on working with me, click here.