Anger, fear, disgust, happiness, sadness, surprise and contempt are the 7 universal emotions every human being is hardwired with from birth.
I want to help you decode these 7 emotional triggers and how it correlates with stress eating, aka “eating our feelings,” aka “comfort eating,” something we work really hard on with our clients to help them be aware of and learn to manage so they’re able to absolutely dominate their goals!
Some obviously have a greater bias towards certain emotions because of their personality, upbringing and environment, but there is no hiding away from the fact that these 7 emotions can strike at any given moment, taking control of all reasonable decision making, if you lack awareness.
This is how you can decode your own emotional state to prevent stress eating…
Self-Awareness & Honesty
Being honest with yourself is the first step. which a lot of people find this really painful and difficult to do. Just take this slap square in the face and be totally honest with yourself, self-awareness is essential to fixing this problem (any problem for that matter!). What emotions or stressors really rule your head and lead to overeating crap?
Some people will get really depressed and seek comfort by binging on junk, not putting any limits on this so it quickly becomes a binge fest! Others overindulge when they’re super stressed thinking the short term mental stimulation from eating junk foods will cure their issue- This method actually does the complete opposite. Some people eat like crap when they’re happy, rewarding themselves with a treat like we do with dogs!
If you’re completely honest with yourself, you’ll quickly discover which emotions lead you down to route of comfort eating.
Being aware of what your triggers are is the first step!
Develop a Winning “Go To” Response
It is totally normal to have emotions which trigger feelings of wanting to stress/comfort eat, we’re all susceptible to it on some level. The big thing is being aware (which we’ve covered) and then creating a winner’s “go to” response when you become triggered, to catch yourself before you start frantically attacking the cupboards, storming the junk food aisle at the grocery store or flooring it to the closest fast food take-out window! This isn’t about disconnecting emotions, it’s about understanding them and taking control! Your feelings do not control your actions unless you allow them to!
This could literally be as simple as acknowledging the emotional trigger has presented itself and then drinking 2 cold glasses of water slowly. This does two things:
It slows you down, so you have time to process the fact you were going to reach for comfort food and gives you the opportunity to reconsider your damaging, goal destroying action.
The water will actually fill you up so you’ll “feel” less hungry.
At this point reaching for a clean, healthy meal will allow you to take control of your mind and level up your discipline!
The above was a short-term solution to a long-term problem, you need a more permanent way of fixing this to minimize feelings of stress and remove negative triggers from your life forever. So, seek to implement positive adjustments in your life which naturally reduce the occurrence of your triggers. If you’re always sad because your relationship sucks and consistently leads you down a stress eating path,do yourself a favor and, change that relationship. Hurry too, the longer you exist in those circumstances the more out of shape you’ll be both physically and mentally!
If fear or anxiety of change always sets you off to wanting comfort food, then you must question what is causing this emotion to constantly reappear, then address it. Fear of new things is normal. The way we get over it is by moving towards it confidently (even though we are afraid) and acting in spite of it!
The amazing thing is, not only will you look much leaner and be healthier for it, your entire life will improve as a result of this mental toughness exercise.
Find yourself some accountability, there’s nothing like it!
When you are accountable to somebody else you respect or look up to, who has achieved what you are trying to, (this part is really important!) you will suddenly try so much harder to control your emotions.
You won’t let someone down who you respect, so you will naturally change your ways to align yourself with their winning mentality. That person can be a friend, a colleague, a coach you actually hire or even better… The expert team at Nutrition Solutions who are always happy to hold you accountable and provide guidance!
Don’t feel bad about being somebody who gets beat by emotions on times, that happens to everyone, the difference between winners and losers is being aware of this, taking responsibility and immediately getting back on track!