Make a mantra
To fight emotional eating, I repeat a mantra as I pick out what I'm going to eat. When peering into the cupboards or refrigerator for something to feed my inner beast, I repeat "Food is for nutrition." When driving by McDonald's on the way to work, I fight the urge to turn in for one of those delicious sausage biscuits and hashbrowns with the same thing "Food is for nutrition." And when I gaze longingly at the chips and candy in the vending machine, I repeat "Food is for nutrition." With that baseline principle in mind, I am being mindfully aware as I determine what to eat. It takes tremendous discipline to remind myself that my emotions aren't hungry, but that my body is starving because it wants me and others to respect it and make it better with nutrition.
You see, I too have always had the habit of using comfort foods to stuff my emotions all the time, and it is a constant battle to keep it in check. (I joined this site first in 2004, and here I am back again today after letting myself go wild and crazy again and feed my feelings instead of my body over the past 4 years--blah--but thanks to fitday because I do have a place to come back to regroup!)
I started back "seriously" into caring for myself with discipline and a good attitude on Labor Day--setting into place the mantra "food is for nutrition" and 3 simple rules that will allow me to succeed:
1. No more than 2 diet sodas/day. (I set the bar low on this, but since I was drinking 25-40 cans/week, this is serious progress.) Aim to replace with water or tea.
Accountability Report: Since Labor Day, only 3 cans consumed total.
2. Eat at least 3 vegetables/day. (Again, a low bar, but something I can meet.) If I'm eating vegetables, I figure it will be in place of something else.
Accountability Report: Since Labor Day, success on all days. 3 vegetables is a minimum so far. Because I'm eating veggies, I'm not eating "junk"
3. No deep fat fried foods at all 'til after Christmas. I know that saying "no" can be a trigger, but I'm seeing this as a personal "lent", where I'm giving it up as an effort to prove to myself that I am in charge of my choices. Hopefully, I never want a deep fat fried friend back as a first choice food. This rule also keeps me from eating out much at casual dining places, which keeps me away from temptations of giant portion sizes and beers with the chicken wings and cheese sticks and breaded fried everything platter.
When things aren't calm and happy in my life, I developed the coping mechanism to grab junk food to stuff it all down and back. And not just any food, all foods and lots of varieties--I didn't just want chocolate, I also needed chocolate with peanut butter, cheesy chips with way too much sour cream dip, fruity chewy candy that was sweet and fruity candy that was sour, and then I'd also want the deep fat fried bar snacks with cheese sticks, chicken wings, onions rings, and beer. And then I still wouldn't stop there--'cause there's nothing better than a full plate of pasta with cream sauce and meat and cheese, and then dessert pastries and ice cream too. Sadly, I don't have a few favorite foods I crave, I just crave lots of tastes of all of the worst ones. So...facing that kind of craving monster staring at me every morning as I face an ever rising tide of negative emotions brought on with work stresses and crazy roller coaster bipolar husband. It takes discipline to do it every day because junk is so alluringly convenient and always suits the immediate gratification need, but I remember that the long term matters more and that "Food is for nutrition." It's a fuel, like gas is for a car--you wouldn't put sugar and sour cream in your gas tank and expect it to run, would you?
Maybe someday it will be easy, but for now, it's mindful, it's conscious, it's control, it's discipline, it's daily struggle, and it's choice--and I'm in charge, not the marketing agents who make that bag of Doritos look and smell so good...
Here's to hope and making today the best it can be.
My mantra: "Food is for nutrition."