In my last post, I discussed the root cause of the loneliness-eating cycle, why we do it and how our reasons for both our actions and beliefs have validity and truth—and aren’t all in our head as self-help may have you believe.
With all this being so, how do we break this cycle and use falling off track from loneliness as an opportunity to catalyze (not derail) our nutrition and well-being? Because if we don’t, we calcify these emotional protection patterns, which leads to more isolating and eating (and clients discover leads to psychosomatic weight gain!).
On a physiological level, the more stress we feel, the more desensitized we become to stimulants like sugar, salt, alcohol and the gambling game of social media scrolling. As time goes one, we need more cookies, chips, drinks and screen time to give us the same dopamine hits that we used to get with lesser amounts of these stimulants.
In the same way that not one diet works for everyone, we all compete, avoid or accommodate in different ways and times. Yet if we address the root cause of our loneliness, we can uplevel our lives by feeling more deeply connected to our bodies, purpose and others. Falling off track goes away as a side-effect of this emotional intimacy.
The stress-eating cycle is replaced with an upward food and life freedom cycle:
- Next time you start thinking about food, identify what’s triggering your stress-eating cycle? Discover your triggers here.
- Identify if you’re competing, avoiding or accommodating. Being able to have the clarity to label your stress response is 50% of this process. So many clients find stress relief from being able to identify and label what they are doing (because then they can choose differently, if they choose). Take my Comfort Eating Quiz to identify your primary style.
- Tune into what you need. Pro-tip: give yourself some time for the answer to come to you. Listen to the secret Insatiable podcast episode that comes the day after with your Comfort Eating quiz results to go deeper.
- Discover what the situation or person needs. Pro-tip: don’t assume you know. Get clear! Listen to the secret Insatiable podcast episode that comes the day after with your Comfort Eating quiz results to go deeper.
- Brainstorm 3 alternative paths where everyone gets what they need.
Client Examples of Breaking Their Stress Eating Cycles: By discovering what they actually needed and the options they had to gain more control (i.e. less discomfort), over a situation.
The New Mom: One client would come home new Mom meet-ups and eat. We were able to identify she was competing with the other Moms on who already lost their baby weight. And since her weight wasn’t where she wanted to be, she assumed she couldn’t really identify with anyone there as she found “proof” in how different they were based on who was a working Mom, a stay-at-home Mom, and other surface level labels.
We had her experiment on connecting with one or two Moms on something other than their weight and discovered both Moms were as overwhelmed as she was and they swapped sleeping and nursing tips. She no longer felt the desire to eat after these meetings (and was thrilled to not have to put energy into the other emotional eating tips she was trying like making this snacking as pleasurable as possible and to call a friend).
The Lunchtime Struggle: One client realized her afternoon cravings disappeared and nighttime eating decreased when she made lunch her biggest meal of the day. But she wasn’t consistent with this habit. In our work, she discovered she felt really awkward eating more when she was with coworkers and so avoided doing it. We had her experiment with actually sharing why she was doing this with a few coworkers she felt closer with and it started this amazing discussion about European versus American eating habits and a few other coworkers wanting to try it (and one actually following through and now it’s a source of connection between them).
The Overwhelmed Entrepreneur: An entrepreneurial client had her own client who she was working with. Her client started asking about a couple more things to be done on the project. My client was starting to eat and drink at night to unwind from this client. We were able to identify her needs as wanting to do the extra work and that she needed to extend the contract with more time and ask for more money, and not try and squeeze the work in. This would be more beneficial to the client, who would get a better result and her, so she could remain centered, focus and creative with the client.
The client said “that makes sense” and so my client was able to enjoy the work process, provide a great client results, made more money and her eating and drinking was prevented.
By becoming aware of your own protective cycle and needs, you can then choose to experiment if you really need protection. More times than not, you’ll find you don’t —and start to connect in the ways that you are craving. You get consistency with your eating as a side-effect of less isolation and more connection.
Committing to this clarity and experimenting outside your comfort zone is hard to do alone. It’s easier when you belong to a group who are on this path (even if you’ve traditionally been a bad joiner). Using the Stress-Eating Cycle to improve your life instead of derail your nutrition and life goals is the heart and soul of my Why Am I Eating This Now? Program. Our live group starts August 13 or you can take the Why Am I Eating This Now? Self-Study (with community support and access to me for questions!) year round.