A colleague passed along this video of the Weight Watchers commercial played during the Super Bowl. It probably does not surprise you that I did not watch the Super Bowl... but I hate that I missed this ad! It is fantastic!
My favorite line is, "If you're human, eat your feelings, eat a snack."
Here is the thing... we often eat and we are NOT hungry.
We are... as the commercial sings:
We think a "snack" will assist us with that emotion. It will take it away, or make it better, or soothe us, or help us celebrate or make us feel worse... or who knows! But we eat when we feel. And that is not necessarily the purpose of food. Especially if we are struggling with weight or a clinical issue. Or we are an athlete needing to perform at a certain level. Or we are just human, and don't want to use food as a coping mechanism.
Food is fuel! Food is nutrients! Food keeps our physical bodies running so we can live our lives. Food is not really there to help us work through our emotions. And it is truly not there to make an unpleasant emotion go away. Trust me! I have tried. It does not work. Trust me.
So what can you do?
1. Acknowledge when you are eating because you are physically hungry versus emotionally hungry.
2. Rank yourself on a hunger scale from 1-10, 1 being "eat your arm off starving" and 10 being "so full you are about to burst" -- ideally you are eating in the 4-7 range when your body is physically hungry, not letting yourself get too hungry so you are overeat, or eating when you are already full.
3. Use meal timing to support cravings! Eat within an hour of waking and every 3-4 hours thereafter. This is my foundational philosophy. Use it!
4. Notice your food groups. Are your meals balanced? Get a protein, carbohydrate and fat on each plate so you are fueling your body with everything it needs.
5. Get your emotional foods out of your house! Chocolate, chips, dried fruit, cookies, ice cream, salty snacks, bread, cereal...you name it. Out of sight, out of mind!
You wouldn't let a heroin addict have drugs sitting innocently in the kitchen would you? So get that stuff out of yours!
When you are happy -- hug someone you love, laugh and giggle
When you are sad -- go for a walk, call a friend, listen to music, get support
When you are bored -- play, work, laugh, workout, go for a walk, find an activity
When you are sleepy -- go to sleep! Or walk around the block and get some fresh air to wake up
When you are stressed -- get help on stress reduction. Take five breaths, practice mindfulness, take ownership of your schedule, get your meal timing down, exercise
Use tools that do not have calories to support yourself through emotions. You likely cannot do it alone, find a community of people to support you whether it be friends and family, hired professionals or even strangers at the gym or group networks to motivate you during rough times. Use something other than food to get you through those moments.
This is tough stuff! It is real and affects so many of us. Deep breaths. Stay aware. Take care of yourself and be good to yourself. You got this.