How You Could be Setting Yourself Up for Overeating

Feeling upset over something can often lead to emotional eating. We want to distract, avoid, or numb ourselves from feeling our feelings, but did you know that feeling upset is a choice?

The feelings you feel are driven by the thoughts you think.

So, in order to manage your feelings, you need to manage the way you think about things.

Did you know that you get to choose the thoughts you want to think?

I didn’t know this for the longest time. I always believed that the thoughts in my head were just the way it is. This is not true.

Yes, thoughts can pop up in your mind automatically, but you don’t have to believe every thought you think.

See, thoughts are simply sentences in your mind.

Sentences are things, and things can be changed.

You can decide what you want to think.

You get to decide what you want to make things mean.

Say something happens: Someone cuts you off on the road; your friend forgot your birthday; you step on the scale and see the number. These are just circumstances. A circumstance has no meaning until you assign it meaning with the thoughts you choose to think about it.

Here are some examples of thoughts you can choose to think and the corresponding feeling each thought creates:

Circumstance: Someone cuts you off on the road

Optional Thought #1: What a jerk! (or in my case, %&#$@!!!)

Feeling: Anger

Optional Thought #2: Wow, he must be in a hurry.

Feeling: Neutral

Circumstance: Your friend forgot your birthday

Optional Thought #1: She doesn’t care about me.

Feeling: Hurt

Optional Thought #2: I know she loves me; she must be really busy.

Feeling: Forgiving

Circumstance: You step on the scale and see the number

Optional Thought #1: I’m so fat. I’m such a loser.

Feeling: Self-hate

Optional Thought #2: This number is simply data on my self-care journey. The scale does not measure my worth as a person.

Feeling: Self-kindness

When you generate the feelings of anger, hurt, or self-hate, these feelings feel terrible in your body. It makes sense that we as human beings have come up with ways to distract ourselves from feeling these feelings. We do this by overeating, over-drinking, over-spending, etc. Anything to not feel the crappy feelings we feel.

But now you know that you are creating those feelings in the first place. This is very empowering! When you make the conscious choice to redirect your feelings by choosing to reframe the story you’re telling yourself about a circumstance, you directly change the feelings you feel.

When you generate feelings of forgiveness, self-kindness, or even feeling neutral about something, there is no need to distract yourself with food to shut those feelings down.

The less you upset yourself with your own thinking, the less you overeat.

If you really think about it, most of the time when we make ourselves upset, we get over it in less than a day, and sometimes within the hour—even without the numbing mechanism of overeating. Why? Because our mind has moved on and is now focused on other things.

So, if you’re not going to be upset over it tomorrow or even a week from now, why make yourself upset about it today?

It will take practice to catch your thoughts and actively swap them out for another, but making an effort to change how you are looking at a situation can definitely help you avoid all of those unnecessary extra calories you’re likely to consume if you don’t take any action at all.


How Choosing Fascination Over Frustration Will Help You Have a Happier Holiday

I was at Trader Joe’s with three items in my shopping basket heading towards the express check-out line when I noticed the woman next in line with at least 30 items in her cart.  I thought, “That’s interesting” and chose the next line over.

As I was standing there, a man blatantly cut in front of me with his cart full of wine bottles and a bag of bananas.  Again, I thought, “That’s interesting” as he continued his transaction, avoiding all eye contact with me.

Then, as I was leaving the store, I noticed the same man loading his car that was parked in a handicap spot—with no handicap sticker or placard.  His behavior in the store made even more sense to me because of a coaching term I learned long ago: How you do one thing is how you do everything.  I thought to myself, “People are fascinating,” and went on with my day.

When I shared this story with other people, some were impressed with my self-control, while others wondered why I didn’t speak up for myself.  I thought about it and came to the conclusion that I prefer peace over conflict when it comes to small things like how many items are in someone’s cart in an express line, or someone cutting in front of me.  They made those choices because of the way they think, and they are not likely to change their behavior no matter what I say or do.  Instead of meeting with defensiveness, I chose to maintain my own sense of peace by quietly thinking, “That’s interesting/People are fascinating,” and going about my business.

I wanted to share this story with you now because Thanksgiving is in two days.  You may be traveling, shopping, preparing meals with others, volunteering, or sharing the Thanksgiving meal with people whom you let get on your nerves.  Then there is the craziness of Black Friday shopping, perhaps more family time, and then travel back home.

Along the way you are likely to meet with people who are in a hurry or who are not considerate of you as they try to get their own needs met (cutting in line, taking the parking space you were waiting for, etc).

You may also meet with people who are so frazzled by their own holiday overwhelm that they truly are oblivious to others around them (blocking the aisle with their cart, stopping in the middle of foot traffic rather than moving to the side, etc).

And let’s not forget the rounds of Dysfunctional Family Bingo that are bound to played at many dining tables across the nation

Instead of getting mad or frustrated with others, try looking at their behavior as “Fascinating.”

Say things to yourself like, “That’s interesting,” or try to guess what they may be thinking that’s causing them behave a certain way. This will help you not take it personally, as it’s never about you anyway.

To some this strategy may seem passive, but I disagree.  When I practice this, I am actively preserving my sense of wellbeing.  I know I can’t control what other people say and do, but I can control how I feel about things, and I prefer to feel awesome.

How do you want to feel this Holiday Season?

Fascinated or Frustrated?

You get to decide.