I’m very excited to introduce all of you to my good friend, Natalie Forsythe. Natalie was my life coach years ago and has cultivated a more specialized practice supporting those who struggle with emotional eating. Having struggled in the past with an eating disorder in the past, she now coaches her clients to feel more relaxed around food and put all that time and energy into what they actually care about.
Natalie is generously offering a FREE gift to the SKINutritious community. So if you’re struggling to find freedom from the ”food crazies”, read the bottom of this article to find out more and visit her wesbite at www.natalieforsythe.com . Without further ado, here’s Natalie!
Guest Post by Natalie Forsythe
Have you ever been so stressed out or mad at someone that you beelined it straight to the freezer to grab that fresh pint of Ben & Jerry’s?
And, have you have thrown away that carton away feeling worse off than when you grabbed for the ice cream to start with?
Let me tell you, you are not the only one. This is such a human thing to do. Emotional eating is a totally natural part of being a human. Not only is it pleasurable, but it also creates a biological and neurological shift in our bodies as we process the food. So naturally, we humans use it as a tool. And this isn’t inherently a problem.
The problem with emotional eating is that it often ends up backfiring. We start out with a reasonable desire to seek a little bit of comfort from a favorite food after a stressful day at work. Before we know it, we find ourselves in the numb out zone, and then suddenly the container is empty and we feel remorseful, guilty and ashamed. This is where the cycle gets especially gnarly; what was supposed to give us comfort ends up making us feel even worse than when we started. So what do we do about that?
This article, in two parts, is going to break down the five most common reasons that people eat emotionally as wells as the practical strategies and tips to use to make a different choice when a strong emotion tries to send you to the pantry.
The Biological Reality: Stress
One of the most common times that people eat emotionally is when they are feeling stressed out. There is a survey from American Psych Association that says 1/4 of Americans rate their stress level at 8 or higher. How would you rate yourself?
In the short term, stress is actually an appetite suppressant. But, in the long term, sustained stress causes our adrenals to release cortisol, which increases appetite. So the stress and emotional eating equation is easy:
Prolonged Stress = Heightened Levels of Coritsol = Cravings for Sugar and Fat
So all we have to do is to stop feeling so stressed out. Easy, right? Just kidding…
So how do we reduce stress? Here are a few ways:
• Body Awareness and Meditation. A meditation practice is shown to reduce stress and bring more mindfulness to food choices over time. I recommend taking just a few long deep breaths a few times a day. I find this can be equally or more powerful than sitting in meditation for a half hour. Imagine taking these breaths in the moment that your boss is putting pressure on you. That is the joy of breath, you are always breathing so you can always do it, no matter where you are.
• Exercise- specifically low intensity exercise like walking. High-intensity actually increases cortisol in the short term. Get out and walk around the block. Even just a couple of minutes of movement can really release stress.
• Self massage: rub those shoulders a bit. Or one of my favorites, keep a tennis ball under your desk and massage your feet with it while you work. Or, even better, ask someone else to give your shoulders a squeeze. It can have a huge • Hot water: Of course, a hot shower or a hot tub is always awesome for stress relief, but I find even just running some hot water over my hands in the bathroom can do the trick in a pinch.
My Big Tip on Stress:
Brainstorm about what you can do in specific places when you feel stressed. What can you do to lower your stress level when you are at work? In the car, or on the train? at home? In a social situation? Take a minute right now and actually jot down a list of 2-3 things you could do in each place to reduce your stress. When we plan ahead and know what to do in a stressful situation, we are eons more likely to actually do it when the stress arises.
The Neurological Reality- Emotional Bursts
The second area of emotional eating that I want to talk about is when we experience a strong emotional burst of anger, sadness, grief, or some other painful emotion. It is so easy in one of these moments to go directly for the quick fix of a chocolate bar or a bag of chips. It is fascinating to look at what is happening in those emotional bursts, and how we can use neuroscience to make a different choice.
Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained neuroscientist who had a stroke. Her experience of the stroke through the lens of neuroscience provided her with incredible insights. My favorite one is what she calls the 90 Second Rule: When we experience an emotional reaction to something in our environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body. After that, any emotion that the person continues to feel is because the person is attaching their thoughts to the emotion and prolonging it. Simply, if we just sit mindfully with an emotional surge for 90 seconds, it will pass by. When I learned this, it was life changing.
I like to teach my clients to think of our emotions like waves in the ocean. There are moments of calm, and moments of intense emotion (this could be either positive or negative emotions.) When a big “bad” wave comes through, we can either choose to be a drowning human getting pummeled by the waves, or we can be the bird that just sits on the surface of the water as the wave moves underneath us and passes by.
It is super easy to go directly for the comfort of food when something really upsetting happens. But next time, think about riding the wave of your emotion with mindfulness for about two minutes without reaching for the nearest food.
My Big Tip on Emotional Bursts:
When you notice yourself feeling super upset, set a timer on your phone, and decide for that two minutes, you will just sit there and breathe. Notice what it feels like inside your body and what thoughts pass through your mind. Once the timer goes off, give yourself permission to let go of the emotion. In order to do this, you have to use tools of mindfulness and distraction to stop ruminating or worrying about whatever made you feel so upset.
I have a great tool that will come in Part 2 of this email series that will really help with creating positive distraction. Part 2 of this series will look at: Boredom, Anxiety and Distraction- three of the biggest culprits of emotional eating. So, stay tuned!
Get a Free Coaching Session with Natalie!
Natalie is generously offering a free gift to the SKINutritious community. If you know that you struggle with emotional eating, and you are ready to say goodbye to your eating issues once and for all, then it would be Natatlie’s honor to offer you a Free “Stop the Food Crazies” Discovery Session. (Value: $120.)
During this 45 minute session, Natalie will find out about your issues with food and then offer you a few tailor made suggestions that you can put into practice immediately. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, click through this link and fill out the 30 second form (Make “click this link” a link to http://natalieforsythe.com/complimentary-food-freedom-consultation-application) and she will contact you to schedule this free session. NOTE: Because her schedule is filling up, she is making this offer to the first 7 people who respond.