Emotional Eating & The Power of Ritual
Eating for comfort and mood management is a powerful ritual. It may have served its purpose over a thousand times throughout a person’s lifetime. Diets fail because they are based on restrictions, rules, do’s and don’ts, good or bad foods and so on. Former yo-yo dieters are left with suggestions regarding their behavior and don't take into account the complex triggers and early imprints that lead to emotional eating. Strict prescriptions and guidelines tend to leave dieters more frustrated and hopeless than before.
Diets fail when emotional eating is not addressed. In my work as a counselor I aim at helping my clients find new self-soothing and comforting rituals, which will replace the engrained (and proven) ritual of eating instead of feeling.
What are some self-soothing rituals you can think of? Make a list and write them down in a journal. Be patient and gentle with yourself. How would you help a small child who is wanting more and more cookies or chips? What tone of voice would you use? What physical (or verbal) comfort would you offer? Now apply this to yourself. Remember to be kind and gentle with yourself. This kind of change takes time. Healing is not linear.
Case study Roberta: Roberta was a night nurse and worked long and demanding shifts. She would come home in the morning, feeling depleted an all levels: physically emotionally, spiritually. In order to “fill herself up” she would overeat and go to sleep. This pattern combined with sleep deprivation led to weight gain over time. Roberta tried various weight loss programs but was unsuccessful in keeping the weight off over time.
When we started our counseling sessions she was very open to trying something new, so I suggested the following ritual and morning routine for her: Roberta would come come after her night shift, boil water, choose a low-sodium broth (instead of tea) and pour it into a beautiful ceramic bowl, which a friend had gifted her. She would sit on her sofa, wrap a light shawl around her shoulders and sip the broth slowly. It did the trick! This new ritual was customized to her unique situation and needs. I am happy to say that Roberta was able to shed the extra pounds, slowly and lovingly, and managed to stay at her healthy weight from there on out.
Self-Care Exercise: Create your own tea ritual. It can be a powerful practice and ceremony when you feel like regulating your mood with food. In many cases you simply need "time out", a breather and relaxation. Get your favorite tea, a beautiful mug, light a candle and give yourself permission to R E L A X and enjoy the moment.
I am here to support you on your weight management and emotional self-care journey! Reach out to me to me to schedule your initial complimentary consultation. I look forward to hearing from you.