We’ve learned that eating for emotional reasons doesn’t serve us well. We've identified when we may be eating emotionally with the Post-its by asking “what’s up?” when we want to eat but are really not physically hungry. Now, what do we do with the emotions that we were soothing with food?
We feel them. Then we deal with them.
Emotional eaters suffer because when faced with an emotion, the useful information that the signal was trying to give them gets covered over by food. In this way, we substitute food and feelings of regret around food for addressing our inner lives. Emotion needs to be digested and integrated.
So, we need to replace your response to emotional triggers from soothing to processing them. Here we will learn to make sense of emotions in a productive way - as signals - that help us with our ultimate task: to change what you can in your life, and accept what you cannot change.
Experience the emotion, use it as information, address the information the signal was giving you, and the emotion will pass.
Step 1: IDENTIFY WHAT YOU ARE FEELING
A. WHERE CAN YOU FEEL IT IN YOUR BODY: Notice if it is a pain in your head, a tightness in your chest, knots in your stomach or a lump in your throat?
B. GIVE THAT FEELING A NAME: FEELINGS WHEEL
Common CURRENT emotions that send us to the fridge: Stress, Anger, Loneliness, Unhappiness, Disappointment, Boredom, Exhaustion. Ask yourself questions about what it could be given what is going on in your life. You will know it when you come upon the right answer. You will be able to feel it:
- Is it the fact that my mother is sick?
- Is it the fact that my friend wasn't supportive of the project I have been working on?
- Is it the fact that I wasn't asked to chair a committee at school?
C. WHAT’S IN THE WAY OF YOUR FEELING IT?
We are looking for the center of the concentric circle image below. These are your feelings at your core. The rings around the center are the reasons you may not be in touch with what you are feeling.
IGNORING FEELINGS: Your resistance to acknowledging your feelings is an unconscious fear of feeling pain. As with most fear, the fear of feeling it is WAY worse than actually feeling it. The feeling itself only lasts 30-90 seconds.
STEP 2: FEEL IT. STAY WITH IT. EXPERIENCE IT!
It always gets easier. Lean in to the feeling. Don't push it away. Breathe: Breaths in for 5 counts (A to B), hold for 3 counts (B to C), out for 5 counts (C to D), hold for 3 (D to A).
- Verbalize what you are feeling.
- How bad is this feeling on a scale of 1-10?
- Can I tolerate this feeling?
- Will something bad happen if I just sit here and feel it?
Step 3: Break it down without triggers/emotions
Analyze the situation with a calm head like a business decision. What is going on?
- Do I have needs that are going unmet?
- Do I feel misunderstood/unheard/disrespected?
- Anger – have I been attacked?
- Sadness – what have I lost?
- Anxiety – what am I afraid of?
Step 4: Address the emotion in a healthy way - fix it.
THIS IS THE KEY TO EMOTIONAL WELL BEING! Only you can do this for you. Change what you can. Accept what you cannot change.
- GET HELP: Talk to someone with a balanced perspective (friend, parent, therapist)
- Internalize a MODEL: What would “NANA” do – can be a combination of people that you use as a guide.
- VISUALIZE: What would you say to someone if you could say something? Can you say something to this person?
- What can you do?
Step 5: COMMUNICATION of your needs
To be able to communicate your needs to another person, it should be done in a nice tone as directly as possible. You will need to see what is comfortable for you. No mean tone. No anger.