Have you been finding yourself caught with your hand in the cookie or almond jar? Emotional eating is your body’s way of crying out and saying that you need to pay attention to what’s going on in your life. You don’t serve yourself in any way by beating up on yourself for eating, rather you can nurture yourself and break free of your compulsive desire to eat by paying attention to what’s really bugging you and feeding yourself from within.

Almondresized Earlier this week I had way too many of the dark chocolate covered almonds that have been sitting in the canister on my kitchen counter. Normally seeing them so accessible wouldn’t bother me at all but this week I was especially challenged with doing a lot of emotional eating.

My approach to overeating now is very different from my former method of beating up on myself. Here’s what I do:

When I notice that my eating habits have changed and I’m eating more than normal, I take an attitude of curiosity and kindness to get behind the source of what’s really bothering me.

Generally I live very comfortably and peacefully surrounded by tons of foods that most dieters would deem ‘bad’ or ‘fattening.’ The ice cream, cookies, chips or candy often finds its way to the garbage after it has spent enough time uneaten. I’ve even been able to make the switch to going gluten free without much resistance. Despite the fact that I’m overweight, my relationship with food is continually becoming more relaxed and peaceful. No more dieting for me. I haven’t lived under that kind of restriction for nearly 7 years.

On a regular day, I would enjoy foods like chocolate or cookies in moderate amounts because I don’t like the way that I feel after I’ve eaten too much of them. When I’m in a space of nurturing myself, I pay close attention to how my body feels and that’s what determines what I eat and how much I want. I used to read labels like crazy and pay close attention to the calorie counts and serving size, but now my body tells me everything I need to know based on how I feel after eating the food. In keeping with Connirae Andreas’ Naturally Slender Eating Strategy, I eat to feel good, and too much food or the wrong types of foods, make me feel bad, so I usually don’t consume them. I have a keen awareness of how the many different foods I love affect me and now I know that when I eat to the point of dragging myself down rather than picking myself up with energy and zest for living, that’s when it’s time to gently explore what’s really going on. Because it’s not what you’re eating. It’s what’s eating you! So I know that when I overeat, the problem is not food. It’s what I do with what I have.

Despite the fact that the serving size on the canister is 11 almonds, I can usually walk away happy as a clam after savoring 4 of them and have no problem leaving the rest of the jar untouched for days, perhaps even weeks at a time.

As a former dieter, I take tremendous pride in knowing that I can be surrounded by those foods that used to have me tied up in knots without feeling the urge to eat them in excess. It’s deeply healing to me to know that I’m in charge of what I eat and I’m no longer a slave to my cravings. But lately those chocolate almonds have been getting to me. They’ve been beckoning.

Paying Attention to How I Feel

On days when I observe that I’m overeating, I notice that I don’t feel good after I eat. I’m not light and buoyant and filled with energy, instead I feel uncomfortable and sluggish, maybe even desirous of taking a nap. Not very productive.

I know that there is a vast difference when I eat something and it hums in my body. After having eaten way too many of them yesterday, those almonds are definitely not humming now.

Thinking back on my week, I realize why I chose them. I’ve been doing a lot of reaching beyond comfort zones in terms of promoting and expanding my business. After being interviewed one day last week on TV by host, Rhina Valentin’s on her BronxNet TV, Open show, I freaked out after seeing myself on video.

I was overcome by the shock of seeing myself as hugely obese.

Add that to the burden of mourning a loss of missing my father from whom I’ve been estranged for years, and I’ve been feeling very fragile, dealing with my stress by hiding from my family and spending more time working n my office, trying to avoid their concerned looks and “Are you okay?” questions.

I realize that I’ve I fallen into the rut of not taking care of myself and listening to what I wanted. But mostly on top of everything else, I’ve been bugged by the prospect of getting older.

Hitting the Big 5 0

Back on December 22, I hit the Big 5 0. And up until that point, I’ve never given any thought to age, because I’ve always felt like an overgrown teenager. In my mind’s eye, I’m still a 16 year old girl. But somehow that perception changed after I had my 50th birthday.

Almost as if by magic, I’ve started having some problems with fuzzy thinking and having trouble remembering names and places and going blank when I’m speaking, searching for words. To give it a name, I guess it means that I’m beginning to go through Menopause.

I gotta say it really pisses me off and I’m not havin’ it. I’m okay with getting older, but I’m not going to do it lying down. So I’m recognizing a need for me to take extra time for myself each day to nurture my needs to protect against the effects of changes in my hormone levels.

I’ll be consulting my doctor soon to check on this, but I know that I’ll be doing a lot more stress relief work to keep me balanced emotionally.

Geneen Roth mentions that there are two types of foods; hummers and beckoners.

For all intents and purposes those blasted almonds were beckoning me to eat them this week. They drew me like a magnet each time I came downstairs and took a break from working. Rather than taking an extra few moments to sort through my fridge and clear out some of the old foods, I gave in and ate the almonds to take the edge off of my hunger.

One day I was so anxious, I actually chose to eat a  handful of almonds for dinner instead of sitting down to a nice meal.

What I Learned About My Emotional Eating

For me, I’ve learned that in order to keep my emotional eating to a bare minimum, I need to have good quality foods available that I love to eat. When my fridge is packed with boxes of take out Chinese, leftovers and foods in big pots, that I don’t enjoy, I tend to reach for whatever is closest.

I do myself a special kindness when I take time each week to do some gluten free baking or cooking for myself and use my FoodSaver to package things in individual servings. But I haven’t done that for awhile, so missing that point of extra special loving care, the beckoners have been beckoning. I’m making a promise to myself to clear out my fridge sometime this weekend and get more of my favorite hummer foods. What’s a hummer food?

Basically a hummer is a food that you often enjoy eating, something that makes you feel good from the inside out. My favorite hummers are homemade chicken noodle soup, toast with I can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spread, peppermint tea with milk and sugar, oatmeal, fruit and cottage cheese, cereals, applesauce and Dannon whole milk yogurt, strawberries and blueberries and bananas.

Here’s The Takeaway for You

This is what you  must know about emotional eating. It has nothing to do with food. It’s all about how you feel. In my Blogtalkradio show this past week, I broke it all down for the listeners by explaining that you have to pay attention to your FAT talk.

Have you been finding yourself caught with your hand in the cookie or almond jar? Emotional eating is your body’s way of crying out and saying that you need to pay attention to what’s going on in your life. You don’t serve yourself in any way by beating up on yourself for eating, rather you can nurture yourself and break free of your compulsive desire to eat by paying attention to what’s really bugging you and feeding yourself from within.

When you start focusing on how you look, what you’re eating and obsessing over hating your body, it’s a mask and a familiar distraction that is an old habit that threatens to keep you ignorant and unaware of paying attention to what’s really bugging you.

But I urge you to go deeper and explore what’s really behind your FAT talk. Look at the FeelingsActions and Thoughts that are prevalent in your life and explore how those might be causing you to feel upset and reach for food when you’re not hungry.

In my new Blogtalkradio show, “Lovin’ the Skin You’re In,” I describe a form of stress relief called tapping or EFT that can help you to manage your emotional eating and feel more relaxed and safe around all foods. I’ll be going into more of that on my next episode this coming Wednesday. But for now, I want you to pay closer attention to what foods are calling you.

What do you notice about what foods are calling your name this weekend? Be aware that if your fridge is packed to the rafters and you can’t gain easy access to what you really want, the beckoners will get you. Have fun this weekend noticing the difference between the two types of foods.

Let me know what you discover. Well I’ve got to run. If the snow hasn’t overcome Manhattan, I’m heading into the city today to do a book signing at the Harlem location for the plus size women’s retail store, Ashley Stewart. I’ve got my fingers crossed. I really want to share this insight with the gals I’ll be meeting. Looking forward to it.

Make it a sparkling day!

Much love,