Emotions rule all of our behaviours, particularly when it comes to food.
And if you are like many other people, stress often leads to emotional eating, stress eating and binge eating habits you’d rather not have.
So in this podcast we cover:
- The kinds of effect emotions and demands have on us (including myself)
- How to put your emotions into perspective
- How to go from unconscious autopilot action to conscious positive action
- 3 steps to overcoming emotional eating and changing habits
Hello and welcome back to the GFE podcast.
I just wanted to say that I really appreciate that you take the time out of your day to listen to this podcast and I hope you take some of the things you learn and put them into practice in your daily life. That’s the whole point of doing these podcasts is to share information that helps empower and inspire you to live a healthier and happier life. To me those are 2 very important things though I’m sure you will agree that they are not the easiest things to achieve when we live in an environment that is relatively unhealthy and influences us otherwise. That’s why we need to have constant reminders all the time, things such as good podcasts, support groups, even facebook pages that we follow. Everything we surround ourselves with acts as a reminder of our goals and brings our actions back into alignment with what we want because it’s very easy to stray.
I hope you’ve had a good week. My week has been a bit up and down. Now that I’m getting very close to submitting my thesis I had a minor crisis of thinking it wasn’t good enough and I worked myself up into a bit of a state over a couple of days but it was really over nothing. After having a good talk to myself about the internal pressure and expectation I was putting on myself I calmed myself down. It probably didn’t help that it was that time of the month, sorry to get personal, but I wanted to share this to demonstrate the types of influences that are constantly coming up in our lives that drive our emotions and behaviours.
Hormones drive many of our behaviours, for us women we have good months and bad months. Admittedly this month was a bad one for me hormonally, most likely due to a bit of additional stress. But it’s also interesting that we often put these massive, massive expectations on ourselves and all this extra pressure that really isn’t necessary.
Have you done that before?
Or perhaps you’re doing it now?
Although stress often does get sparked from external events, the way we react to the stress is an internal issue and it is something we can have an influence on.
I could have kept going down that negative spiral but I told myself to hang on a second. I used the power of awareness and a bit of self-reflection to stop and take a look at things, and this is something we often have to do.
I asked myself: ‘What was I really stressing about and why was I putting all of these additional expectations on myself? ‘
Of course there is good reasoning behind it in one way. I want to go on with future studies to get a PhD, so having high marks works to my advantage in finding a good PhD project and supervisor… BUT at the end of the day with the things that I do I can only do my absolute best and that’s exactly what I’ve done the whole way with this thesis. I’ve put in more than 100% effort and the rest of the matter lies in someone else’s hands (the marker) and is out of my control. But if I do absolutely everything I can in my own circle of influence then all I need to focus on is getting it up to the final standard I was looking for and then submit it.
Okay Jedha, breathe, you’ve got this.
So I left it for a day, then went back to the paper and realized that I actually thought it was a great paper! I have to think that because it’s my work of course but I can let all of those feelings of anxiety go.
But I tell you what, life is often like this for us on so many levels, wouldn’t you agree?
We’ve got study or work deadlines and demands, we’ve got family to contend with, we may have health issues to deal with, we’ve got goals we want to achieve, and we’ve got to live our daily lives with numerous demands. It can be like a roller coaster ride right?
Now if you’ve ever taken a ride on a roller coaster you’ll know the emotions that go along with it. There’s nervousness and excitement at first, followed by fear and panic, then there’s exhilaration and satisfaction. So many things in our lives are like this but what is at the centre of everything is emotions.
Emotions are driving our behaviours every minute of every hour, especially when it comes to food. We feel down so we reach for a treat, we feel bored so we get something to eat, we feel lonely or sad and need comfort so we eat some food. We celebrate a birthday, we eat food. Our children are good, so we offer them treats. Think about all of the numerous occasions attached to various emotions where we eat food.
Take a moment to think about your day-to-day life. Where are you reaching for food unnecessarily?
Food is a great human comfort, something we all love. But we do reach for food more times than we are actually hungry and unfortunately we can’t just eat and eat without suffering the consequences. I know we ALL wish we could because let’s face it; food is good!
But we simply just don’t need as much food as many of us eat. And what often drives our food intake is our emotions.
So it makes sense that if we try to understand our emotions just a little bit more, then maybe, just maybe we can stop all of this emotional eating, stress eating, binge eating and even some of our bad habits.
I know this kind of stuff is something that almost every person deals with in one way or another and yet it’s something we don’t talk about too often is it?
And perhaps that’s why none of us can deal with our emotions effectively, is because we don’t talk about it enough. But we are going to talk about it here because food is wrapped up in our emotions to a large extent.
So let’s think about emotions.
In any given day we can experience a wide array of emotions. We wake up feeling tired and not really wanting to go to work. We get a bit stressed on the way to work or when having to drop the kids off to school. We finally get into our day and feel a bit calmer. Then we might meet a friend at morning tea and have a very uplifting conversation so we’ll be feeling happy and vibrant for a couple of hours. Until the boss says we haven’t done something right or something else happens and we are plummeted into a state of frustration and irritation.
Now I think you get the picture right?
I haven’t even got through to the end of the day yet but I’ve already been tired, unenthusiastic, stressed, calm, happy and vibrant, frustrated and irritated. Every day is a mish mash of emotions that come and go. And this is the most important thing to realize about emotions is that they come and go, come and go, come and go.
When we can start to take a slight step back and be able to observe how this happens every day, we can start to have more influence over the reactions that occur as a result of them. Often what happens is we feel an emotion and then we’ll react. This happens without us thinking about it. It happens on autopilot. What we need to learn to get better at is to feel the emotion and then make a decision on how to act.
So instead of reacting with an unconscious autopilot reaction, we can act with a conscious decision. Can you see how this can make a powerful difference to what we are doing?
It’s the difference between feeling bored and reaching for something to eat, and feeling bored and finding something constructive to do, or just sitting back and letting the boredom pass.
It’s the difference between feeling lonely and sad and reaching for the chocolate and saying some kind words to yourself and realizing you are probably not alone, or maybe taking a hot bath to nurture yourself instead of reaching for the chocolate because often when we feel lonely and sad it’s not that we need something from something or even someone else but we need to give a bit more self nurturing to ourselves. So we can begin to change our unconscious reactions into positive conscious actions, ones that support our goals not go against them.
When we can start to take a slight step back and be able to observe how this happens every day, we can stop reacting and start acting.
Once we can realize that our emotions are just energy in motion we can see that we experience many different energies within one day and we can choose not to get involved.
So how do we do this?
Well first you just need to become more aware, so start observing your behaviours. What happens when you experience different emotions because the awareness takes you one step closer to making a conscious decision to act.
Then start to choose a different action when you can. It will come intermittently at first, or it might come in waves, or you might take 2 steps forward and one step back but the more you build awareness into your daily routine, the better you get at it an before you know it you are changing your habits, you are not reacting to emotions and reaching for food, and you are moving closer and closer to your goals instead of further away from them.
If you listened to podcast #56 we talked about how many of our emotions and habits come from our childhood, the environment we grew up in and also from the society we live in. Unfortunately we are not taught too many skills about how to eat properly and we already established that emotions aren’t something we talk about openly that much, so this stuff does not come naturally to most of us.
So today we’ve covered emotions, stress, and emotional eating in a way that you might not have considered before. Most of our actions and habits are on autopilot but we can change that.
Step one is to realize that we do experience a wide array of emotions every single day. These emotions are temporary, although they are compelling at the time, they do pass.
Second is to start observing your own reactions to emotions. What behaviours follow certain emotions? See if you can start to be an observer of your own habits.
Once you start to observe something, next time the emotion or habit arises, choose a different action.
Just keep on doing this and you will start to see your life transformed. And you will also find you are much happier because you are not at the whim of every emotion you have.
Give it a try this week. Be like a fly on the wall and sit back and observe yourself. Then by the end of the week see if you can take a different course of action than you normally do.
This stuff really works so give it a try and please come and let me know what changes you have made over on Facebook or leave your comments below 🙂