Do you struggle with food cravings? I do. I’m an emotional eater but learning the neuroscience and psychology of emotional eating has helped me quit.
People always assume that a therapist totally has their act together, but we’re human beings just like you. If I’ve had a tough day ice cream soothes my worries away. Missing my family overseas? Chocolate brownies make me feel loved. Delicious, but not at all healthy and this emotional eating is the reason my jeans kept getting tighter. But I recently found an eating plan that is working – and it’s because it is based on the psychology and neuroscience of eating.
I say ‘eating plan’ because I don’t ‘do’ diets. I’ve only done two in my whole 47 years on the planet and every cell of my brain rebelled against the food restriction. “What do you mean I can’t eat cheese whenever I want?? FK YOU!” For me it was like DIE with a T on the end. I’d rather slog away in the gym for hours than restrict my source of pleasure. Whilst that may have somehow worked in 30’s, it no longer worked in my 40’s. Recently, however, a friend told me about Bright Line Eating Plan and so far I have lost weight, my emotional eating has reduced to ZERO and there’s no part of my brain that is rebelling. It’s not about willpower…… It’s about planning.
Bright Line Eating is the program run by Dr Susan Peirce Thompson. She has a Ph.D. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and was a psychology professor. Her expertise is the neuroscience and psychology of food addiction and sustainable weight loss and she has done heaps of research on why and how people loose weight (and why they don’t). I found out that I am a 7 (out of 10) in her susceptibility scale (gasp!), which helps me understand why I can consume the entire block of chocolate-covered marzipan without even blinking. It also means that Persian Love Cake is my own personal form of heroin.
I joined her 14 day challenge for $29 USD and those numbers on the scale decreased and made me dance around the kitchen like a lunatic. (I admit that I do this most days just for the sheer joy of being able to dance!) However, the most important thing is that I’ve stopped the emotional eating. Dr Thompson’s daily 5 minute videos helped me with my ‘food thoughts’ and and what to do to get through it.
I have absolutely no affiliation with the Bright Line Eating program other than my own participation. I’m sharing this info because it worked for me and maybe it might work for you. And I think this lady is amazing!
I still talk to my own therapist about the underlying issues – the things that are making me sad, lonely or exhausted. If you would like to talk to me about your emotional eating and the underlying issues in your life that are upsetting you, give me a call on 0450 22 00 59 or book into my diary using this link.
This Emotional Survival Guide to Christmas has been written to help you navigate difficult emotions over the ‘silly season’.
Whether you are feeling anxious, stressed, lonely, sad, or suicidal even, here are my tips for getting through the next few weeks:
1. Anxious? Put your head down towards the ground
Are you freaking out in advance about family visiting? Are you breathing 5 billion breaths a minute? Is your throat tight? Is your chest feeling constricted? Are you feeling like you’re going to implode?
Find a quiet space and hang the top half of your body down towards the ground.
Give it a go and notice how heavy the top half of your body feels as it bows to the forces of gravity (a complete opposite to how ‘spacey’ and disconnected your head feels when you’re anxious). How your diaphragm is more relaxed. How your throat is more open.
It’s really hard to have anxious thoughts when your head is upside down. Give it a go. I dare you!
2. Catastrophizing? Ask yourself: “Is that really true? Or am I exaggerating?”
When we’re stressing out, it’s easy to catastrophize. “OMG if I don’t get the meal PERFECT the Monster-in-law’s going to sit there with that smug “I knew you wouldn’t be able to pull it together” face and .. and… and…. “
We create stories in our head before they’ve even happened. But is that really true? Is it likely to happen? Or are you exaggerating?
Ask yourself that very simple question and see if you can stop the BS in its tracks.
3. Angry? Bash a punchbag/cushion/have a toddler tantrum on your bed
I’m not kidding. If you hold all that rage down, you risk it leaking out at inappropriate moments. One snarky comment about the turkey can totally ruin Christmas lunch believe me.
4. Comforting yourself with food? Put the mince pie down.
Find other ways to comfort yourself. Here’s my personal Lemon Day list of things I can do to comfort myself instead of reaching for the ice-cream. Have a printed-out list stuck on your fridge door to stop you instantly reaching for the mince pies.
But then again, it’s Christmas … maybe a couple of mince pies isn’t too bad. (Just stay away from the clotted cream).
5. Stressed? Earth yourself: get grounded and breathe
Are you running around at a million miles an hour to get everything done? Is your house in a state of upheaval because of visitors?
STOP for a minute.
Take off your shoes.
Walk outside and focus on the sensation of the grass beneath your feet. (Even if your lawn is less ‘deliciously springy Sir Walter’, and more ‘Bindi-Cobblers Pegs scrub’ – find somewhere pleasant to stand and focus on the sensations beneath your feet. I particularly like warm concrete in the early evening for example.)
Now breathe…. Go on, give me a big sigh on your out-breath.
Let all that stuff go for a minute…
Focus on what you can feel in your body.
It’s just you and the ground. Everything else is irrelevant for a moment.
‘Earthing’ isn’t just for hippies. Focusing on the physical contact with the ground will bring your awareness out of your head and down into your body. We’re grounding you. It brings you right into the present moment and makes you feel 100% less stressed.
6. Lonely? Reach out to people you are emotionally close to
Whether you’re single or in a relationship, loneliness can strike hard at this time of year. Reaching out to anyone is good, but reaching out to people that you have a close emotional relationship with is preferable because they understand you/get you/speak your language.
So reach out to your close friend(s). And if the first person on your list doesn’t pick up, leave a message and then call the next person on your friend list. Keep going till you get a real live person. Tell them how you’re feeling and ask if they want to hang out.
Right about here is where your inner depresso may spark up and say “But they’re busy with their family. They won’t want to see me”. Don’t listen to him/her.
These people are your close friends. They know you. They LIKE you. Do you think they’d want you to be all on your own feeling bad?
Call them up. You never know, they could be feeling exactly the same way as you.
And if you really don’t want to tell a friend? Call a helpline. They’re not just for people who are feeling suicidal – they’re also there to help people who are struggling. The numbers are listed below.
7. Suicidal? Call a helpline (no matter what time of day or night)
This is where I’m going to be a little firm with you. Some part of you wants to live because you’re reading this message. So I need you to reach out and tell someone how you’re feeling.
Tell your friend, a family member, your GP. Call a helpline. The people on the end of the phone at these helplines want to help you. They want to hear your story (no matter how boring you might think it is). They’re trained professionals.
If you want to find out more about my Services or the benefits of psychotherapy or counselling, feel free to have a peek around my website.
I’ll then be taking a break to recharge until 18 January 2017. I have a network of psychologist and psychotherapist pals in Brisbane who would love to help you whilst I am away. Give me a call to talk about finding someone to help you.
An Emotional Survival Guide for Christmas was last modified: July 10th, 2020 by Sarah Tuckett