Lucy* – a patient of mine from clinic- was hesitant to admit that the strength of her weight loss efforts was slowly dwindling away. When I asked her what her biggest barrier was to maintaining her weight loss, she spoke to me of one thing in particular:
At first, her weight loss efforts were strong.
She wrangled in her husband as her accountability partner, and they both were making consistent improvements toward their health. Her weight was slowly coming down.
However, little by little, itty bitty changes back toward old ingrained habits caused her weight loss efforts to lose momentum. She started noticing:
- Unhealthy food items were making their way back into her pantry
- She began drinking soda again (even “just diet” soda)
- Her husband started eating junk food along with her (making her feel defeated and frustrated that she now lost her closest accountability partner!)
Lucy and I began diving in to her emotional eating behaviors.
What about emotional eating was contributing to these old behavioral patterns?
To Lucy, her learned behaviors stemmed from what her mother always used to tell her growing up. Questions or statements such as:
How are you feeling?”…
Everything will be better with…”
…you guessed it… FOOD.
And not just any food…
Lucy went on to explain how Sunday church gatherings and social events “were always better with cinnamon buns.”
Memories of warmth, the act of giving, and caring for others always stemmed back to food. But again- not just any kind of food!
Rather- rich, sweet and guilty treats! Lucy admits.
The connection here was clear.
Lucy was associating her emotions directly with learned behavioral patterns around food from her childhood.
Sharing unhealthy treats (like cinnamon buns) was equivalent to emotional feelings of caring, nurturing, and providing comfort to herself and others.
I challenged this association with her.
Would it be possible for you to still be a caring, nurturing, and loving woman without gifting cinnamon buns?” I asked.
As I’m sure you know the answer…
YES. Of course!
Take this moment to PAUSE, and think about your life.
To what event(s) do you “bring cinnamon buns”?
When do you convince yourself that [this situation / this person / this moment of time] will make yourself and others feel better if I just bring [a big tray of cinnamon buns]?
Rather than reach for the food…
Put aside a few minutes of your time to reflect on HOW you can demonstrate CARE, COMPASSION, GIVING BACK, and WARMTH to others without reaching for food.
- Can you set aside a few minutes of your time to make a beautiful card for someone in need?
- Can you bring a funny card game to a social event to share a few smiles and create new memories?
- Can you surprise someone with flowers instead of food as an act of giving?
- Can you be an active listener to someone who needs a listening ear, to demonstrate how genuinely compassionate you are?
When it comes to gift-giving, I would argue that the best gifts you can give to another person are ones that are both personal and meaningful.
You know what two things– in your life- are likely at the top of your list of importance and value?
By being intentional with your time in a way that creates non-food related memories, you are not only recharging your own emotional tank full of warmth, giving, and caring…
You are gifting all of these same beautiful feelings and emotions to others.
Are you someone who struggles with emotional eating?
- Do you find yourself gifting food often, or consuming food emotionally to feel better?
This is very common and you are NOT alone! Lots of women in my Program go through similar struggles. It’s not easy overcoming emotional eating but having regular accountability coaching and a wonderful group of supportive women cheering you on, makes defeating old engrained (emotional) habits that much easier to overcome!