These days in our busy world, our schedules and life’s demands certainly affect us greatly. We are pulled in many directions and multi-task beyond reason. We all do too much! It is stress and frustration that cause us to reach for the candy jar, the bag of chips, and to lose control of our portions. It is my guess that more people overeat due to tension than to depression.
It has been my experience that my level of tension is the greatest in an environment in which I am not in control of the circumstances, which has occurred in some of the jobs I have had in the past. Sometimes I need to release my tension to a crunch sensation and sometimes I have needed to soothe my ruffled feathers with something sweet, “for medicinal purposes.” In the final months of my previous job, I would carve out 30 minutes on my lunch break to run across the street to the Starbucks. This Starbucks had extra comfy chairs, nice soft music, and it was filled with people who were quiet, reading their newspapers, novels or working on their laptops. I would order a cup of black decaf and would bring in a chocolate biscotti. Each day I would savor the soothing warmth of the coffee and the delicious double chocolate biscotti. This treat plus the peaceful atmosphere would neutralize my tension and help me cope with the second half of the day. And yes, I did include the biscotti in my daily calorie count!
The point here being that you need to plan some sort of release valve in advance or else you will be grabbing something with too many calories to derail your daily intake. An idea would be to keep a bag of celery and carrots in the break room fridge to help when something makes you tense, frustrated or angry. I also recommend NOT having a candy jar on your desk, because that is way too easy to eat the whole thing! I also recommend that you stay away from the person that has a candy jar on their desk. If you want to satisfy your emotions by eating candy, then buy some Tic Tacs or a small roll of Lifesavers (not the convenience store size). I’ve done this many times! Even if you stop and you eat the whole thing, it’s not too much more than 100 calories, so it won’t kill you! Do this as opposed to going for the chocolate chip cookies or the coffee cake in the company break room. Plan for those times of tension, because they are inevitably going to happen.
Another good idea is to plan your lunches. I am queen of the brown bag because I can control my food intake by portion and by calories. If you go to a restaurant, you are very likely to overeat because the portions are too big and too many bad things are added in the kitchen. If you are going out to eat, you could too easily be in high-calorie territory and you could eat twice as much if you eat the entire meal while you are tense. I had too many days that something stressful would happen right before my lunch break! It is too easy to eat more to calm yourself because the work world protocol will not allow you to have a glass of wine with lunch. More about restaurant eating in a separate blog entry.
At home, you are more in control because it is easier to divert yourself from the goodies in the house if you aren’t stuck in a cubicle stewing. One idea is not to have temptation in the house in the first place. Personally, I have lots of treats in my house, and I have treats a couple of times a day with lunch and dinner, they are just accounted for. My philosophy is that I don’t have to run and grab a treat because it will soon be gone, because I know I have plenty of goodies: biscotti, truffles, fruit and desserts. I do have a certain amount of willpower and these treats are in my daily calorie quota, so they don’t do me any harm. It makes me feel good to be surrounded with things I like: healthy fruits, veggies and lean meats as well as little treats to go with them.
The key to success with emotional eating is to know that there will probably be triggers in your day to cause it, and to make sure you are prepared for it when it occurs. Whenever I emotionally eat, I also acknowledge to myself that “You are eating because you are aggravated” to make sure I remain aware of the behavior and that helps me keep it in check. We are all human and respond to outside stimuli that affect our emotions, so when it happens, deal with it from a position of strength, by making sure that you are prepared.
How do you deal with emotional eating? Let us hear from you!