Overcome Emotional Eating with Becky Williams!
Posted by Mike Miryala on
This is Becky from Mama Meets Enneagram, and I've been a health coach for about two years and the thing that comes up over and over again with my clients is the topic of emotional eating. Now this doesn't have to look like you crying into a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream. Although that was my story whenever I suffered from an undiagnosed eating disorder. So it could just be as simple as going for seconds when you aren't really hungry. It could be eating when you're just bored. It could be feeling pressured to eat at family gatherings or just not paying attention to your body. Now I'm not going to bore you with studies and all that kind of stuff, numbers and all that, showing you how bad sugar affects your body because that may just stress you out and of course stress is going to be one of the causes that actually makes the addiction to sweetness worse.
So what I do want to assure you though is that you are not alone. Sugar is very addictive and if you've ever tried to quit cold turkey, like I have, and you ended up in a face full of donuts, you've come to the right place.
So let's talk about what does happen whenever you eat sugar. So first, when you consume the sugar, your liver is going to turn that sugar into fat. And as the liver releases sugar into your bloodstream, your blood pressure is going to rise. Very similar to whenever you consume drugs, your dopamine levels in your brain are going to light up. They're going to get higher and increase. The high insulin levels that are in your body now are going to cause that drop in blood sugar because it's trying to keep a balance. That's going to signal your body that you need more. So then what do you do? You're going to eat more sugar and you see how this cycle just keeps going and going and going. So many people believe that you can just decide "Hey, I don't want to eat sugar anymore". And it's just a matter of willpower or that I'm just not focused enough. And while I mean for some people that is true, some people it is that they're just not focusing on what they need to do and things like that. But for a lot of personality types like myself, that's just not the case. I'm assuming since you're watching this video that you're like I am and it's just very difficult to stop.
Even if you've decided and, you know, you feel all motivated by day three, you know, you're already face down and sugar again. So, instead of trying to convince yourself that you don't want sugar or you don't need sugar, which is not true. Most of us do want it. It's part of our culture and just part of our lives. What I've done is I've outlined three different ways for you to kick the sugar habit. That way you have a choice if you're going to consume sugar instead of it making the choice for you without having to go cold turkey.
Step one is to identify the cause. What is it? What is the reason that you're overeating? What is the reason that you have a sugar addiction? Is it just because you're bored and the food is there? Is it because you have the wrong foods in your house and so your body is in this constant state of "I need food, I need food, I need food" because you're only giving it things that are not nutrient dense? Is it just a habit? Is it just something that you've always done? So understanding why you're doing that is gonna be your first step.
Your step two is to swap out your sweeteners. Now, instead of just saying, okay, I don't wanna add any sweetener and I'm just gonna do, you know, I'm just gonna do black coffee now. You may not enjoy black coffee, okay? So pretty quick, you're gonna be jumping back to dumping in lots and lots of sugars into your coffee. Instead of doing that, let's make some swaps. So instead of just giving up fruit completely, why don't you swap for things like berries, which are going to be lower glycemic. Let's do some dark chocolate instead of just milk chocolate. Let's do Stevia-sweetened foods, for example, Lily's chocolates. They taste delicious, but they're not going to give you that same blood sugar spike as a different type of candy bar would. Also, nut butters. Just know that these things are very easy to overeat. So anchoring your meal with a protein. So like if you're gonna do dark chocolate, maybe put it with a handful of almonds. And that way you're anchoring protein each time. That's gonna help you to keep your proportions in check and also keep your blood sugar from doing this up and down roller coaster that we talked about a minute ago. Also sweet drinks, beverages, things like that. Those are often going to be difficult to kick as well and so one of my favorite things to do is to take a sparkling water like LaCroix, there's a new brand called Aha that I just got this past week, Bubbly, there's lots of different ones. And if you take that and then you put it with a splash of I'd say one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and just a little touch of sweetener, like stevia, that is going to help you to kick those cravings. It's got like a tart flavor to it and it really helps to curb whenever you're wanting sweet. You know sweet treats or if you're wanting junk food things like that. It has worked for me and trust me I was the biggest sugar-holic that you have ever met.
Another thing too that I don't think people realize is sugar is not just in honey buns and sweetened cereals and things like that. It's also disguised in other things. So doing a swap out for your breads, for your pastas, tortillas, things like that, those actually may be causing your sugar cravings and you don't even realize it. So you may not be eating cake but if you're eating flour, tortillas or processed foods, things like that, and maybe making those sugar cravings resurface even though you think that you're doing well and you can't figure out why you're still craving.
So the third step is to wean yourself off of sugar. Are there still processed foods in your pantry? Ideally you want to toss those items into the trash and swap them out for healthier options. So, for us, for our family, I didn't want to go into the pantry, take all of these foods and just dump them in the trash because that's a waste of money, right? We are a family of five, we're on a budget, we have a new baby, and so all those things are going to be part of this. I don't want to just go and even though I would love to just have a perfect pantry, that didn't make sense budget-wise. So swapping these things out just means, hey, when you run out of the sugary cereal, you just don't replenish it. You just don't buy it again. And then the next time, you can swap it. This is a really good way to get your kids on board too with eating healthy, is just not adding those things back in. Getting rid of the super sugary foods though, as soon as possible, is the best thing. So you don't have to throw out everything, but if there's something that you just know, you know, if you're gonna down a whole sleeve of Oreos, get rid of them, okay? We don't want to have temptation sitting there in the pantry because it's gonna cause extra stress, stress leads to cravings, there you go back on that rollercoaster ride again.
Okay, so, despite having swapped out processed foods and refined sugars for healthier options, your desire for sweet taste may still be strong and that's okay. The process of weaning yourself off of that need is going to help to reset your taste buds and conquer your addiction. I know that I used to think that fruit was not very sweet. I'm like, why would I want an apple for a dessert? But as I stopped consuming so much sugar, now an apple with like a little bit of almond butter, a little bit of peanut butter, those kinds of things taste sweet to me. Whereas before they didn't. And so you're actually going to reset your taste buds and it resets your body truly on a physical level to help you with this addiction.
Also, it's important to practice moderation whenever you're enjoying sweets. So start by diving in and storing foods in their actual serving size. So let's say that you're going, I keep going back to the nut butter because that's one of my favorite things :D. So let's say that you want to do nut butter and celery or some type of snack. Go ahead and pre-portion it out so that you know exactly how much it is. So when you're sitting down to eat something, you get to eat the whole thing. And so on like a mental level this is perfect because you're like oh I get to eat all of this food but you've already pre-portioned it so that way you're not overeating. You see how you can reset your mind by doing that?
Okay and slowing down is another key here to be able to enjoy your food. So something that I have my clients practice is called the 20-minute meal. A lot of times we're gonna sit down, we're gonna scarf down our food in front of the TV or during work or when we're on a call and we don't even realize how much we're eating. We don't realize how fast we're eating. So I have a special challenge for you. At your next meal I want you to start a timer, grab your phone, start a timer on it and turn it over. Don't look at the timer. When you are done with the very last bite, turn your phone over and see how long it took you. Just write it down. No judgment. I don't want you to even think about after you do that. Just write down the number and be done. The next day at the same meal, so let's say you do it for breakfast, the next day at breakfast, I want you to do the same thing. Grab your phone, set your timer, put it down. Each day, I want you to work on adding at least one minute to your meal. The goal at the end is to have a 20-minute meal. The very first time that I did this, I even knew what the experiment was and my meal lasted four minutes. My entire dinner lasted four minutes and I even knew that I was timing myself to see how long of a meal I could do. So we just are not aware, we're not paying attention to those hunger cues, we're not paying attention to our fullness cues and we're basically overeating or under eating all the time. So by slowing down and savoring every single bite, your foods not only gonna taste great but you're gonna eat until you're full and then those cues can kick in. So there's no way to know if you're full if you're not paying attention, if you're sitting and watching a show. All right, I hope that makes sense.
We all have the ability to reduce or eliminate sugar cravings but we're just too busy, too fast-paced to listen. And our bodies are constantly trying to give us these cues so we have to tune in and listen. I want you to try this 20-minute meal. I want you to implement the three quick steps that I've given you and be proud of every ounce of progress that you make. I want you to remember, this is progress over perfection. You can do it! I believe in you!