You’ve been having a rough month. You tell yourself “I’ll get through it”. But it sucks. Then a super rough day hits you and drains you of all your energy, while driving home, the craving for pizza sets in.
Now while pizza, in moderation, isn’t the worst thing for you, you just had to have a pizza, like the entire pizza. So you find yourself at the pizza place.
you tell yourself “I haven’t had a “cheat” day in forever” , “Its ok to splurge every now and then”
You eye out the menu and your mouth just starts to water. Thin Crust … Bacon .. BBQ Sauce Pizza. That sounds amazing..
Your brain tells you “This will make you feel better”
And before you know it you are three quarters in and you start feeling guilt, but you keep eating because it’s making you feel better and besides “I’ve cheated already, I might as well get it out of my system, tomorrow I will be back on track”
Regret and guilt starts setting in and you think to yourself “Please for the love of God, somebody tell me how to stop. How do I stop feeling ashamed? How do I put away that guilt?”
Guilt can be very debilitating
The feeling of guilt is a compounded feeling to to what you are already experiencing. It is an emotional response that causes stress in the body which leads to poor digestion, indigestion and many health issues. I have asked some leading experts in the health and fitness industry on their advise on how to break free from guilt from emotional eating. I consulted with Health and fitness coaches, Minimalist Experts and nutrition and life coaches and they all shared their top answers on how to get you back up again when you stumble.
As personal trainers and online coaches, we have a lot of experience with our clients admitting to emotional eating, or eating due to stress, guilt and/or boredom. It’s obvious that if you’re working towards weight loss goals, how this kind of behavior has the potential to limit your success. That’s why we encourage our clients to try to shift their focus from the binge eating incident to get back on track towards their goals right away. If you’ve given in to a moment of weakness, we don’t judge – we simply suggest you follow these steps afterwards:
- Don’t beat yourself up about it, it happens to everyone. But by allowing your mindset to enter a negative feedback loop, you’re only more likely to continue to make the same mistakes. If you admit that you messed up, but don’t hold a grudge, you’ll instill the mindset that it’s what happens over the long term that counts. We understand this is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect.
- Get back onto your meal plan the very next meal. Forget the whole, “my diet starts fresh tomorrow/on Monday/next week” – we want to see you back on track the same day. This means spending the rest of the day opting for high protein, low carb/sugar foods for the rest of the day to try to balance out your macronutrients and not making a bad situation worse.
- Put those calories to good use and be sure to hit the gym – hard. Rather than beat yourself up about it, you’ll feel better if you commit to an extra round of HIIT or cardio that week. This will allow some of those empty calories to be used as fuel and not set you back as far.
Whew, what a loaded topic! I have felt out of control with my eating and the unstoppable guilt and shame over it. After years of healing, I realized that emotional eating is not inherently bad; in fact, we are just trying to feel better in a way that has usually worked for us. The guilt over emotional eating is worse than the actual physical or emotional discomfort during the act or what may have caused it. The first step to getting over the guilt of emotional eating is to appreciate the fact that your body is simply sending you a message. I have found the following steps to be imperative in creating lasting change around emotional eating.
Are you simply eating enough throughout your day? If you are restricting your eating (physically, mentally, or both), your body will automatically start to override your willpower to get the fuel it needs to thrive. So work with your body! It is a beautiful being that needs food to function and allow you to live your passions. Don’t feel guilty for wanting food. Trust that you and your body know what will serve it best.
Investigate the underlying problem: how does your plate reflect what is going on in your life? This is so important to do in order to create long-lasting change. Figuring out why the emotional eating is happening in the first place is how to stop it before it starts. So allow yourself to eat what you want, and promise to show up for your future self by learning what you are truly craving. If it is comfort, rest, pleasure, or anything else, ask yourself what you can do outside of food to fulfill boost that area of your life.
Get out of the guilt routine and get into your body! I cannot stress this enough. Take a walk. Jump around. Practice EFT (Google it and it will change your life). When you are more connected to your body overall, the easier it is to tap into your hunger cues and determine physical cravings from emotional ones.
Lucy is a health coach who heals women’s relationship with body image and food. She teaches individuals to cultivate healthy habits, to tap into the flow of abundance, and feel amazing in their bodies and lives every single day. Lucy studies nutrition at college, where she is a part of the Campus Kitchens Project, an organization that fights food waste and hunger at the same time. You can find Lucy at any time cooking large meals with her family, singing at open mics, making green smoothies, biking by the James River, or playing with her cat, Murphy. You can find her on her website or Instagram
The most powerful way to BREAK through the cage of guilt that surrounds emotional eating is to get in tune with ourselves! It is as simple (and as complicated) as that. The greatest part of my journey towards minimalism is the fact that I have gotten more in tune with myself: body, mind, and soul. Here are 3 ways that embracing simplicity in your life can help you get in tune with yourself to overcome emotional eating and stop feeling guilty now!
-With less distractions in our lives, it is much easier to listen to what our bodies are telling us. LISTENING TO YOUR BODY is going to change your relationship to food dramatically.
-Focusing more on utilizing simple ingredients in our cooking will make it more likely that the food we eat (even if we’re eating just because of stress, binge eating, etc.) will give us ENERGY and make us feel alive ALIVE rather than making us TIRED and making us feel GUILTY.
-Living a more minimalist life will give you more time and more money. More time to get in tune with yourself, more money to take care of yourself, less chances to feel guilty about binge eating a whole box of oreos.
Ashlee Fazio is a minimalist expert who shares the life-changing benefits of embracing a simple life. She shares advice, stories, and lessons from her journey on her blog at destinydweller.com as well as on the Tiny Steps Toward Minimalism Facebook community. Feel like minimalism can help you get closer to the life that you want? Shoot her a message here to set up a FREE session and explore this!
As a Life and Wellness Coach for many years I have helped numerous clients tackle their emotional eating issues. This can be a confusing topic as many relate it to an eating disorder. The truth of the matter is, they are indeed very different. Emotional eating is something we typically do in the moment. The moment of sadness, loneliness, stress, worry, confusion, boredom, etc and yes, even joy. As humans we live through our emotions daily so, for many this can be very difficult to control. When we eat to fill a “void” we may be experiencing, we usually reach for those so called “comfort foods”. Foods that are high sugar, high fat, and processed. Why do we do this? Well, it starts in our brains. Our brains are always looking for those endorphins that bring us “comfort” or “pleasure”, that high so to speak. These foods can eventually destroy our health both mentally and physically.
After we indulge in these comfort foods, the most crucial emotion comes to the surface. That emotion is GUILT. We soon feel guilty for eating or binging. We mentally beat ourselves up for doing so and in return, we feel sad, empty, and shameful. Well, that’s how the vicious cycle begins and can continue unless you get the proper help and guidance you need. Guilt is one of the hardest things to deal with because that guilty feeling or emotion is felt after you have done something you know is “wrong”. We punish ourselves mentally and then the cycle starts all over again. In closing, let me say that acknowledgement is power! Learning to acknowledge what is happening and creating a new way of dealing with it, can help you regain your power and your health.
Coach Shelley is a life and wellness coach and you can find out more of on her Facebook page
Lose the restrictions:
After analyzing my 2 year path of emotional and disordered eating, I realized that what triggered my own disordered eating patterns was being diagnosed with food sensitivities. Of course there were underlying emotional issues that were also linked but this seemed to be the trigger. This deprivation had often left me feeling isolated and left out. And the unresolved emotional issues manifested through this deprivation. I developed an unhealthy relationship with food, labelling foods as “good” or “bad” and this is when my orthorexia hit full throttle. When you start to make too many restrictions you end up wanting those off limit foods more than ever before, because they are forbidden. We always want what we can’t have, don’t we?
Every time I would binge, on “good” or “bad” foods, I immediately started making up new rules and restricting my eating choices for the next day. I would feel terrible and wallow in my misery until night, and the next day it would start all over again.
It was only when I started to loosen up around food and let my rules go, that things started to change.
Now, apart from my food sensitivities, I eat what I want when I want and I feel less tempted to binge. When you no longer view foods “off limits” it becomes easier to resist. You may not even want it at all anymore.
I choose to nourish myself with healthy whole foods that my body responds well to because I want to look and feel my best. And if I want a piece of that cake, I’ll have it, and then get on with my life.
Try loosening up around food and letting go of restrictions and see how your relationship with food starts to shift.
Journaling has been a game changer for me. I journal everyday now as a morning and night routine. I write down my feelings, thoughts, how my day went, my goals, gratitude, things I love about myself, etc. This has helped me vocalize my feelings and appreciate what I am and what I have.
Journaling is a great way to express yourself, as emotional eaters are often very secretive and keep things to themselves. This also helps to identify some underlying causes of your emotional eating patterns.
Focus on positive things and practice self love by listing all the great things about yourself.
Buy yourself a nice journal and make a routine of regularly expressing any thoughts that come up. If there is negativity try to replace it with something positive. Write down 5 things you are grateful for, 5 things you love about yourself, and 5 goals that you want to accomplish. And do it everyday.
I resisted seeing a therapist for so long but it was also something that I wanted and needed to do for years and years. Of course my unresolved emotional issues resurfaced through food and emotional eating. After 2 years I decided enough was enough. I called a therapist who was specialized in emotional eating disorders and started talking to her regularly. This was the first time I ever talked about my issues openly and without restraint. It felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest, as I finally had the courage to speak my truth, openly and fully.
A counsellor or therapist can help you by visiting the issues that you have concealed and talking about them out loud. They can help you voice your concerns and find solutions to them. Finding support is a critical step in healing. There is no shame in reaching out for help, in fact it is a courageous act. Humans tend to think that in order to be strong, they need to do everything by themselves but this is far from the truth. A counsellor knows what you are going through and can help you find relief by resolving the underlying root cause of your emotional eating and guiding you every step of the way. There is always support and there is always help.
Laurence is a certified holistic nutritionist based in Vancouver, Canada. She helps her clients from all over the world reach their health goals, rediscover the joys of food, and how to properly fuel their bodies to feel their very best. You can find more on Laurence’s journey on her website , Facebook and Instagram
Using food for comfort, to feel better, and to cope with emotions we’re not ready to tackle isn’t a problem on its own. It’s a natural coping mechanism that almost all of us use at one point or another. Emotional eating turns into a problem when we make it a habit. That’s what gets us stuck because it basically stops us from discovering other ways to find comfort and connection.
When emotional eating becomes a habit, it runs on autopilot. That’s why your first step needs to be mindfulness of your triggers! One of my favorite ways to bring some attention to your feelings is the HALT technique. HALT stands for Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, and Tired. Whenever you feel the compulsion to eat, pause for a minute, and ask yourself where in HALT you stand.
There are two big wins in this: 1) interrupting the automated emotional eating cycle, and 2) noticing and naming your feelings (even if you’re not quite ready to face them right away). Give this a try and get to know your emotions a little better! That’s step one in your journey to making peace with food!
Fabiana Simões is a Health Coach helping professional ladies take charge of their health and eating. Her passion is seeing driven women break free from diets, empowered by foods, and energized to chase their goals. You can find out more on her website
We are 100% responsible for how we feel because all of our feelings are created by the thoughts we choose to think. Learning that a simple sentence in our brain can change the way we feel about ourselves, our circumstances and how or what we choose to eat removes the option of becoming a victim to food. Take a moment – what were the sentences running through your mind when you last experienced food guilt?
All of our feelings are created by the thoughts we choose to think. Learning that a simple sentence in our brain can change the way we feel about ourselves, our circumstances and how or what we choose to eat removes the option of becoming a victim to food. Take a moment – what were the sentences running through your mind when you last experienced food guilt?
This is how you choose to take back control. You choose a different thought. Yes, you might have been overwhelmed and ate a box of cookies, and yes you might have felt devastated, angry or embarrassed and ate until you felt nauseous. The suffering that comes after is optional. What might a better thought be that will SERVE you in actually changing your behavior?
Try these on, and see how they feel: “I am capable of making a different choice next time.” “I have a body that needs my attention.” “I can handle this.” “I am stronger than my cravings.” These generate feelings of motivation, positivity and encouragement. Refuse to suffer, choose a better thought and take control of the feelings that come with it.
Tanessa is a weight loss coach for working professional women. She teaches women the tools & strategies to reach their natural weight, feel confident in their bodies and stop overeating – permanently. You can find more information on her website or you can join her community
If you are an emotional eater and would like some additional support, join our Facebook group where we share strategies on how to break free from emotional eating and reach your happy weight. Join our community here