From emotional eating to intuitive eating (for weight-loss and health)

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emotional eating, intuitive eating, mindful eating, binge eating, affective eating, mindfulness practice
From emotional eating to intuitive eating (for weight-loss and health) - Image supplied by ShutterStock.

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“Intuitive eating is an approach that teaches you how to create a healthy relationship with your food, mind, and body–where you ultimately become the expert of your own body. You learn how to distinguish between physical and emotional feelings, and gain a sense of body wisdom. It’s also a process of making peace with food—so that you no longer have constant “food worry” thoughts.  It’s knowing that your health and your worth as a person do not change, because you ate a food that you had labeled as ‘bad’ or ‘fattening.’” (intuitiveeating)

Intuitive eating is conscious eating and it is the cure for emotional eating that many of us struggle with. Because we’ve been unconsciously eating over and over during the years, this habit took over our lives without even noticing it. Of course we didn’t notice, we were unconsciously eating sugary and junk food until we became addicted.

The causes for emotional eating reside in our brain and the way we manage our feelings. When we feel like nothing can make us feel good we go to food for pleasure. We know that food is always there to comfort us.

Studies show that eating sugar and fats release opioids in our brain, the same substance we find in hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.

No wonder we become addicted to certain bad foods so quickly.

So, if it’s that bad, how are we going to solve it?

We mentioned intuitive eating or mindful eating. That is the solution to get rid of emotional eating and in this article we will explore ways to go from emotional eating to intuitive eating. It might take time and determination, but don’t you want your freedom back?

Change patterns in your brain

Patterns in your brain are actually habits you’ve created while telling yourself stories: “I feel crappy, but this evening I will grab some pizza and watch my favorite TV show, that will make me feel so good.” Well, telling this to yourself and doing it over and over again sent a message to your brain and the brain made the connections. Now, the only good thing in your life is eating because it is constantly accessible.

While becoming more aware, think of why are you eating bad food if it ends up making you feel miserable? Tell yourself: “I will enjoy this evening with a cup of tea that will definitely make me feel better than a bag of chips.” Things don’t change instantly, but give it time and pay attention to the stories you tell yourself.

Don’t rush

Craving certain foods make us rush to the kitchen and grab them without even thinking why we need to eat. Before rushing to start your junk food feast take 5 minutes and think if you need to eat, how will that make you feel and what can you do instead of unnecessarily eating?

Think of healthier ways to boost your mood. I can think of some: going to gym, replacing junk food with healthier food or herbal tea, reading, accomplishing small tasks.

Believe me, I still go through emotional eating, I have never been a fan of the gym until 7 days ago, but little by little things can change.

Practice meditation

Do you have 15 minutes a day for yourself? Think of this time as a gift. Practicing meditation is life-changing. It benefits you on all aspects of your life. It will definitely help you going from emotional eating to intuitive eating.

Research shows that meditation helps us become more aware, calm and focused. People who meditate experience less stress so they are less inclined to eat food for comfort.

Practiced daily, meditation can be the next best thing you do, and you will feel better and better. Maybe you won’t even need food to make you feel good, meditation will do it. Meditation will also help you eat mindfully (intuitive eating).

Break the pleasurable association you created with your snacks

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) has created an exercise to help break the pleasurable connection you have with your favorite unhealthy food.

Close your eyes and think of something you emotionally eat, like potato chips for example. Now think of something that is gross for you, maybe mold or worms. Now imagine a bag of potato chips with mold and worms. Make it real, just like you make the pleasurable connection real, you can also make this pleasurable connection real.

It might seem a strange exercise but it will help you cut the pleasurable connection you have with the foods that make you eat emotionally.

Start eating mindfully

While the techniques above will help you create a start to get to intuitive eating, the destination might as well be the same with the journey.

You can go from emotionally eating to intuitive eating by practicing mindful eating. Bring your awareness to the table. Notice what and why you eat. Make eating a pleasurable experience that is healthy and nourishing at the same time.

To start eating mindfully, you can check this article.

You will find plenty of resources there to get started.

Life is too short to spend it eating bad food and feeling frustrated. Take back your control and go from emotionally eating to intuitive eating step by step!

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Georgiana Green is a freelance writer who writes about a wide range of topics including natural remedies, meditation and mental health. She practices meditation on a daily basis and is always researching natural remedies. She also loves nature and traveling to new destinations.