You know that feeling, when you are reaching into a packet of biscuits, or going back to the fridge or cupboard, time after time, “just one more” your mind confidently and persuasively tells you. You are deep in the moment of emotional eating.
You probably already know intuitively when you are eating for emotional reasons, but just in case you’re not sure, here are 7 signs of emotional eating I have observed in myself and my clients.
1. Intense, urgent hunger that comes on quickly.
2. Hunger comes from your mouth, not your stomach.
3. Crave certain types of foods. Sweets and cookies.
4. Hunger is not satisfied even when your belly is full.
5. Comes with or just after an unpleasant, negative emotion.
6. You can eat without being aware of what you are doing.
7. Followed with guilt and shame and mentally beating yourself up.
This article is in response to this question: What do you recommend for those in the eye of the vicious storm of emotional eating? I know this is a question that you probably have yourself. The problem with this question is that it pre-supposes something which rules out the one answer that will work. Read that again. The question assumes that emotional eating is some kind of storm that hits you, and you can do nothing about it but be swept along, like Dorothy in her red shoes, until it dumps you beaten and battered and an ice cream tub or biscuit packet heavier.
Emotional eating is not a storm that you have no control over. Emotional eating is a learned coping behaviour to avoid unpleasant emotions. Read that again…
Emotional eating is a learned coping behaviour to avoid unpleasant emotions.
A behaviour, which like any behaviour, began as a choice and a decision that was repeated over time. This decision has linked or anchored together two separate things. Emotions & Food. When I am upset, I eat to comfort myself.
To be fair, it sometimes feels like you have no control over the behaviour because often this association was made for you when you were too young to realise that it was a choice. The earliest example being your mothers breast milk to soothe you and stop you crying when you were a baby. Then maybe a sweet treat after a needle at the doctors. These are examples of food as comfort. Then there are sweet foods for celebration, family and love; birthday cake anyone?
Now, as conditioned adults, when we experience an inkling of an unpleasant emotion, it’s off to the fridge to “fix” it. Squash those emotions down inside. Cover them up with cake and cookies. The truth is, you are not even eating the food. You are eating what the food represents to you. You are attempting to eat love, comfort, care, soothing.
This association also assumes a few things. It assumes that unpleasant emotions are not allowed, (“Stop crying!”) and that I must squash them, it also assumes that I am not able to handle my emotions and comfort myself.
So, realising that this was a choice and a pattern, (perhaps at one stage unknowingly made for you by your parents) you can either choose to continue to use this pattern and coping mechanism, or you can choose to develop and practice a new behaviour pattern. You are an adult. You are in charge of your thoughts and behaviour. And not all your thoughts are accurate.
You are an adult. You are in charge of your thoughts and behaviour.
That voice in your head telling you to eat “just one more” is self-destruction in disguise. It is the voice that savagely punishes you when you are finished, bringing out even more unpleasant emotions than the ones you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Here’s the truth:
There are two strategies that will work. A short term, quick fix to break your past pattern in the moment, and a longer term more holistic solution.
Break your emotional eating pattern and state any way you can. When you feel the mouth hunger coming on, immediately stop what you are doing and go outside for a walk. Go and exercise if you can. Do whatever you can to get yourself away from the food.
If you are already eating or about to eat and can’t get away, you can break the pattern in your mind. Imagine something completely disgusting to stop you eating instantly, like steaming, gooey dog poo, vomit or maggots. Make a great big colourful picture in your mind and cover that thing that you used to like in it. Ice cream and maggots. Dog poo tim tams. Ice cream and vomit. Yum. Imagine that disgusting thing until you almost retch. If just picturing it doesn’t do it. Imagine eating it, and how that maggoty dog poo feels in your mouth and sliding down your throat. Blegh! I’m almost retching writing it.
The long term fix is to learn how to handle and process your emotions away from food. There are many ways to do this. The first is to acknowledge that you have emotions, and give yourself permission to feel all of your emotions. Even the uncomfortable ones.
Rather than swimming around in your thoughts, it is quicker to journal out the answers to these questions. or take a long walk and talk to yourself. Often simply breathing deeply and accepting the emotion will be enough for it to come and go with the breath. Yoga and meditation are great practices to learn how to do this in daily life.
Make a regular practice of doing what works for you to sort through the daily accumulation of emotional stuff that builds up. Journalling, yoga, coaching, hypnosis, meditation, long walks, deep breathing are all great things to practice daily or at least a few times per week. Make the time to give yourself regular gifts of true self-love and self-care and emotional eating will soon be a pattern that you have long since left behind, a relic of your childhood, no longer useful.
“Having ongoing training is essential for our team and our business. It’s important to look after the people that look after others. Kylie has the experience, professionalism and knowledge to engage with our team and help them understand about human behaviour and why people do what they do. In the wellness and health industry it’s a different sales and service delivery and it’s imperative to keep on top of these understandings to perform at our best to help others. We couldn’t recommend Kylie high enough.”
“I have worked with Kylie over many years. She has helped me as a Business Mindset Coach, as a motivational speaker for my gym clients at both Vision Personal Training & now at Flow Athletic.
I bring her in to train my Personal Training teams in mindset, communication and how to coach our clients better and excel in our own personal mastery as fitness leaders.
At my recent Fitness Business event, my gym owner colleagues were blown away by her talk, saying she is the best speaker they have ever seen.
After every event we always get rave reviews about her talks and training.
I highly recommend her work.”
“I finished the Spiritual Awakening Course yesterday and I found it truly amazing. An incredible next step after our coach training. I feel so much more enlightened and “opened-up”. It has really opened my eyes to the power of the universe and the energy flowing in each of us. I loved it – thank you.
I am feeling so lucky at the moment. So many things are just falling into my lap. I visualise it and set my intention to manifest it and it comes. Things such as getting more clients, needing help to put my business online, not knowing how to get known in my local community etc. Courses / insights / clients have just fallen into my lap at the right time.”
Of course I am still learning and growing, but the course has really helped. Thank you”
“Before I met Kylie I was feeling very lost working full time in law in Sydney CBD. I’ve known my whole life that I was here to help people, but I just didn’t know exactly how. So when I found Kylie, it just was really fitting that it was going to help me ground my magic. I started the coach training and had an amazing time. It was beautiful to go through the process of having a mentor that had that spiritual element and that holistic element, as well as the very grounded science-based knowledge as well. So that really helped me to conjure that for myself.
I started my business before I even finished the course. I just started putting myself out there. And now I’ve gotten it to a point where I’ve got really grounded solid message, and two years later am running a multi-6 figure coaching business as a leading pioneer in my niche, helping clients all over the world.”
“Before I signed up with Kylie I had a busy PT business… I was exhausted and on the brink of burnout and no matter how hard I tried, I had reached a ceiling in my income that I just couldn’t break through. After completing my NLP Coaching certification, I found my true voice and the energy of my business has been completely transformed. I’ve created an online program, up-levelled my entire business and totally smashed my previous income goals. I make decisions more confidently and I can help my clients create change in their life even faster. On a personal level, NLP gave me the inner strength to leave a toxic situation and rebuild myself which lead to me discovering the love of my life! Today I am living the life that I’ve always wanted – but just hadn’t been able to put into words. I have never been this happy or this powerful. If you want to manifest the life of your dreams I would not hesitate to reach out for help from Kylie.”
Before attaining my NLP Coach certification, I was an online trainer who was getting excellent results for “some” of my clients. I used a mixture of experience, intuition and an exhausting “helicopter-parent” style of accountability coaching. It was like the 20% of the clients who weren’t getting good results took up 80% of my effort, and it was draining my passion for my business. This meant my income was never predictable, I worked way too many hours, and I was constantly putting out spot-fires for energy-vampire clients.
Completing my Certification with Kylie has been the best decision of my career. The very next month after finishing I created a new and improved program with better boundaries and made $30,000 in new sales. I now have a repeatable system to coach my clients and I can get them both immediate AND long-lasting change, sometimes in less than 40 minutes.
In the past 12 months, I have doubled my freedom and fulfillment in my business I have created raving clients who snap up my offers and I’ve breathed fresh air into my business creativity. My income has remained the same, whilst I have halved the amount of work I was doing. This has given me the freedom to be a present mum and earn an excellent income from home.
I signed up with Kylie because I knew that to have a bigger effect as a PT I needed to improve my understanding of how the mind works. Through NLP Coach training I now have great coaching techniques that break through all sorts of negative behaviour patterns. I’ve noticed big improvements in all areas of my life including my own personal finances and my client retention. This has allowed me new freedom to work on scaling my business and helping even more people with less one on one time from myself. The coach training has given me the ability to fully unlock the power of your mindset and those that don’t have this skill are only tapping into a small amount of their potential.
This morning I had a kick-ass coaching session with Kylie Ryan.
We’ve been working together for a couple of months, and she’s the perfect person to help me integrate the rapid transformations I go through regularly. I’d been getting this vision of my fully mature creative and entrepreneurial self. His discipline, commitment, and command of wealth was 10x what mine is now, but it wasn’t really about money for him. Our coaching sessions usually roll with me saying, “Kylie, I want to be, do, and have EVERYTHING” and Kylie helping me find the archetypes and parts that aren’t integrated and bringing them together. MAGICK HAPPENS EVERY TIME.