As stress increases, self care decreases and you are more vulnerable to binge eating and emotional or compulsive eating. However, there are many self-care strategies you can use before, during and even after an emotional eating episode to reduce the chances of it happening again.
Stop binge eating before it starts
Make sure to front load self care throughout the week by finding ways to move into a sense of well-being. Important ways include:
• Eating at predictable times and feed yourself well.
• Recharging by finding laughter through a funny YouTube video, talking to a friend who is upbeat and inspiring, downloading new music to your playlist and dancing to it.
Make it count: A mindful binge
Yes, it’s an oxymoron, but it’s also possible. In the middle of a binge is an opportunity to tune in, to taste, even if just for one bite.
During, as with before and after, is filled with many tiny moments. One way to think about these moments is that each one offers the possibility of choice: To eat the next chip in this moment or not to eat it. To sit with the pain and feel it, or to stuff it down with chocolate?
Sometimes in a choice moment you can muster the awareness to gently ask yourself a tangible question.
Try: “If I had a 9-year-old girl living with me, how would I feed her?”
Not: “I shouldn’t feed a 9-year-old girl this way.”
The “shouldn’t” can trigger your rebel energy and ignite you to keep going.
After a binge: Love and learn
After is the part that can be the most damaging. What you say to yourself next is almost always hurtful and self-esteem robbing. The after is what invites the next binge… maybe in that moment, the next day or the next week.
Try acknowledging that the binge was only trying to help because you were trying to be too strong, because you needed comforting you couldn’t find elsewhere. Maybe it was befriending you, helping you with loneliness that you didn’t know how else to handle.
The greatest gift you can give yourself after is self compassion. It may not seem like it, but you are hard wired for self compassion.
- Try “hand on hand on heart.” Put one hand on your heart, then the other hand on top of that hand and say to yourself three times, “May I be gentle with myself in this moment.” As arguments and negative self talk emerge, keep going back to hand on hand on heart and repeat. Notice how this tactic can shift how you feel.