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Updated: Jul 19, 2019

emotional eating

When do you struggle? Maybe that depends on what you struggle with, but honestly, the triggers I am about to talk about probably apply to all of us. HALT-B stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired, and Bored. One of our pastors on Sunday even showed how Satan knew to tempt Jesus when He was tired and hungry after fasting (Matthew 4 from the Bible).

What is that "thing" that you wish you could conquer? Most of the people I work with have issues with emotional eating. It may be a big or small problem, but it is real and we know that the choices we make when we eat for our emotions are usually unhealthy. Recognizing when you are most vulnerable is a helpful tool as you seek to make wise choices.

Hungry - Hangry? We have all heard that expression. When we are not adequately fueled, we may not have great control over our emotions. Here's the tricky part, we need a mix of vitamins and minerals from our food. They keep our body working, but they also keep our mind focused appropriately. Solution - eat regularly scheduled meals consisting of a variety of healthy food. Then you won't be tempted to go for that donut 🍩 that someone brought into the office.

Angry - What do you do when you are angry? Does this one cause you to eat? Shop? I cannot relate to this one as a trigger for bad behavior, because when I am angry I am sure the person deserves to be yelled at, so I am just practicing justice 😜🤣. But seriously, take a moment to breathe and assess your anger and the root cause. Giving intentional thought will help your perspective and take your mind off of the destructive behavior.

Lonely - Many people use food as a substitute for emotional connection. We were all created to be in community. Yet it's so easy to isolate. Maybe you have listened to some lies in your head that no one wants to connect with you. Take the uncomfortable step and reach out to someone else. Pick up the phone and actually call someone, and/or go help someone in need. As you give of yourself, that fast food 🍔🍟 will begin to lose its appeal.

Tired - Whoa, this one is big for overeating. When do people binge or choose the most unhealthy food? The two popular times are mid-afternoon, 3:00ish, and bedtime. At bedtime the solution is easy - go to bed! Sure it may be hard at first if you have a habit of eating at that time. So get there gradually. Begin with planning out your bedtime snack. Celery and peanut butter instead of a candy bar. Then eat less at night until you find your cravings have subsided. What about the mid-day slump? It's hard to take a 10 minute nap at your desk. So run up and down the stairs for a few minutes, or do squats and jumping jacks in your office or the bathroom. Studies show you will feel better and be more productive then you would have if you had napped, and definitely more then if you had a bag of cookies.

Bored - This one gets me. I am a people person, but I have to do some solitary work. Anyone who works from home at all probably struggles with eating out of boredom. I just want a change of pace, so walking to the kitchen and getting a handful of nuts seems like a good solution in my crazy brain. This is also why so many people eat while watching TV. They are actually a little bored and want something to do in addition to watching their 2nd or 3rd show. Let's blame TV dinners from the 60s for that one. Solution? Turn off the TV and go for a walk or read a book. Or, if you really want to watch your favorite show, plan some exercises that you will do at the commercials or one of my favorites - spend time foam rolling and stretching!

You get the point. Here is your recipe for success:

  • Become aware of what sets you off and how you deal with your emotions when that happens.

  • Make a plan that is fun and not shaming.

  • Celebrate every success!

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