Posts tagged #emotional eating freedom

Why I Threw Out My Scale (Plus 3 More Gentle Ways to Measure Progress as You Heal Your Relationship with Food)

Earlier this year, I was reenergized to clean up my apartment by watching the Netflix series “Tidying Up” with Japanese decluttering expert Marie Kondo.  If you’ve ever spent time decluttering, you’d know that the hardest thing can be getting rid of the things to which we have emotional attachment.

To counteract this phenomena, Marie has her clients do one two things:

1) Pick up the item and hold it in their hands

2) Ask themselves: “Does this bring me joy?”

I love this question because a simple “Yes” or “No” answer helps you bypass the emotional attachment to make a clear decision on whether or not to keep something.

As I picked up the scale that had been sitting in my bathroom for years.  Immediately, I was taken back to the memories I had with this item. For years, when I was dieting and struggling with food, I remember feeling anxious and excited each morning when my my internal dialogue would go something like:

“I’ve been so good this week…. I’m soooo gonna see the numbers go down…. Oh wait, let me pee first so that doesn’t mess up the number”  (If that’s TMI for you, sorry I’m not sorry :P)

From here, one of two things would happen

SCENARIO 1

If the scale went down, I would rejoice!!!  “YES, my efforts are paying off!!”  Then, I’d go through my day feeling proud, confident, and excited.  

SCENARIO 2

  If the scale went up, (which inevitably it would at times due to hormonal fluctuations, water weight, etc.)  I would feel devastated and proclaim to myself: “Why bother?  I’m going to be fat forever!”  The saddest part of this is that this type of thinking would often lead me to eat emotionally.   I was victim to the dieting mentality. Studies do show that dieters can often be triggered to overeat emotionally by having a bad scale day.  What a crazy, insidious cycle!!!

Returning back to the present day, with the scale still in my hand, the clear answer was, “No, this doesn’t bring me joy.”  Since making peace with food and quitting dieting, I also realized that the scale had been collecting dust since I hadn’t even used the scale in a few years…  So into the Goodwill donation box it went...

While the scale can be useful for certain things (weighing your luggage or for people who can be completely objective about the numbers), for me and my clients, it would set off a cycle of self-loathing and sometimes binging.  So if you you are all like me or my clients, I invite you to let go of what’s not working for you and what is not bringing you joy. There plenty of options to measure your progress in a way that is more gentle and useful for the long-term.  

Why I threw out my scale.png

So if you’re ready to ditch the scale, here are 3 More Gentle Ways to Measure Your Progress

  1. By your choices - Perhaps you decided this week you’d cut your sugar intake in half and did that consistently for the week.  Excellent! That’s amazing progress and will lead to the external results you are looking for. Or perhaps like a client of mine, you practice different mindfulness tools and measure your progress by how often you practice...then soon realize that your binges are getting smaller or have disappeared!

  2. How your clothes feels - Perhaps you have a particular skirt or pair of jeans that is a bit more snug.  You can use this as a more gentle way to check in with how you’re doing in your efforts.

  3. Tune into how your body feels - Weight loss isn’t everything.  After all, have you met people who have lost weight but feel miserable?  After your efforts, do you feel more energetic? More calm minded and centered?  Celebrate those internal wins because they are what will keep you going.  

I’d love to know your thoughts! What tip resonated most with you? Please comment below!

Mindfulness - A Practice that Can Help You Beat Binge Eating & Emotional Eating

I recently finished up a course on Mindful Eating through Mindfulness Based Eating Awareness Program (MB-EAT), which was developed by Dr. Jean Kristeller.  I decided to participate in order to deepen my own understanding and knowledge of mindfulness as a means to break free from the diet culture and have a  more peaceful relationship with food.

What is mindfulness, you ask?  Mindfulness is simply the act of being fully present.  Our minds are often thinking about the past or imagining the future rather than being FULLY in the present moment.  Mindfulness itself has its roots in Buddhist meditation (Vipassana) and is a key element in many spiritual practices & religions.  But whether you are spiritual or not, in a world full of distractions, 24/7 connectivity through our cell phones and the internet, mindfulness is definitely becoming more challenging and equally more more important.

How Loneliness & Isolation Perpetuates the Binge Eating Cycle

 Just as physical hunger is the signal for us to eat, and thirst is the single for us to drink water, loneliness is a signal for us to seek connection.  Unfortunately, what keeps so many people stuck from seeking the connection and support they need is shame.  Shame is the belief that inherently there is something wrong and broken with us and therefore we are unworthy of true love and belonging.  This differs from guilt, which is a signal that we have acted out of alignment of our values. While guilt says we’ve done something bad or wrong (that could be changed), shame insidiously tells us we are bad or wrong.

The cycle so often goes like this for food and so many other addictive-type behaviors:

Feel intense loneliness and shame —> binge eat —> isolate oneself and feel more lonely and shameful —> continue binge eating

I’ve seen from my experience and that of my clients that feeling out-of-control with food in itself is painful.   Add on top of that feeling like you’re alone and the only one struggling with the issue and the experience can be excruciating.

A Brain Science Perspective on Binge Eating + How to Break Free from the Habit

I’m sitting her in a coffee shop where I just enjoyed some tea and a cupcake (gluten-free for me ;), having fully enjoyed experience of eating.  To think, in the past I feared cupcakes and would avoid them at all costs…

Flashback to 2013….I remember a particular morning I woke up, feeling bloated and disgusted with myself.  I had binged the night before going completely mindless with food. For me, binge eating started as an occasional occurrence in middle and high school, but once I started my first year of college, it had become an daily nightmare.  I was in my 4th year of college at the time, which had been incredibly stressful with the number of classes I was taking, trying to balance my extracurriculars and social life, and uncertainty about my future career.

I look back with compassion on the writings of my younger self.  I wish someone could have told her that overcoming binge eating wouldn’t always be a linear process.  There were some days I would learn a new concept or tool and do really well my eating.  “Yes!!! Finally!  I’d tell myself… this is the answer.”  Inevitably, the new “diet high” would wear off and I would be back to where I started.  Then I’d beat myself up and wonder if something was wrong with me or even binge to escape the sense of unworthiness I felt.

Looking back, I wish someone had told me to be gentle with myself.  After all, I was doing my very best.  I wish someone had told me that change and healing isn’t always linear.  At the time, I think it’s something I understood theoretically but didn’t fully embody especially having come from a culture and expectation of “Straight  A’s” all the time.

So let me tell you this, if you struggle with the dieting-binge eating-repeat cycle, there is nothing wrong with you.  You just need a better understanding of yourself and your biology.

Do you reach for food under stress? - Four Keys to Retrain this Habit

Here’s the thing - there will always be stress in our lives.  Change inherently causes stress, even if that change is something positive, such as get a new job or going on a date with someone new.  So it’s important to start developing other methods and strategies to handle it better.

Are you someone who turns to food under stress?  If you want to start shifting this pattern, I recommend to start making peace with your emotions and finding other ways to manage them.  Here are 4 keys to break the stress eating habit.