10 Steps on How to Eat Emotionally – Mindfully

15 July 2015 | Written by Xenia Ayiotis

The general message out there is that we should avoid eating emotionally and that we should find other ways to deal with difficult emotions. Sometimes though, eating emotionally does help and it works at soothing our difficult emotions, even if for a short while…

Emotional eating, however, does not need to mean emotional overeating. Thank you Dr Pavel Somov for your very valuable insights on this. If you want to read more about it, I can highly recommend Dr Pavel’s book Mindful Emotional Eating.

So let’s imagine you are feeling very stressed and you have the urge to eat to deal with your stress. Here are 10 steps on how to eat emotionally… mindfully…

Step 1
Acknowledge and accept that you are feeling stressed and that you are looking for some relief.

Step 2
Give yourself permission and tell yourself you are going to deal with your stress by eating. Once you have given yourself permission to cope by eating, it should take the urgency to eat anything immediately, away.

Step 3
Before eating, take a few deep breaths. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and breathe out for 5 seconds. Do this a few times. The more, the better – but anything will help!

Step 4
Choose a food that you love. If you choose cheesecake, go get the best possible cheesecake you can find or if you are at home or in your office, choose the best quality and best tasting food that you can find. Go for quality not quantity. Have what you are craving.

Step 5
Put it on a plate: the prettier, the better. Give yourself time to eat.

Step 6
If possible, find the most pleasant place to sit and eat it – a view would be good. As Geneen Roth says, if you are going to eat in front of the fridge, then pull up a chair. But preferably find a nice comfortable spot.

Step 7
You may want to invite someone to join you. Or not. Whatever could be more pleasant for you.

Step 8
Eat slowly. Savour your food. Put your fork down between mouthfuls. If you are not using a fork then breathe…aim for a slow, relaxed eating experience

Step 9
As you are eating, tune in after every few mouthfuls and ask yourself if you are feeling any better. If you are not, continue to eat and tune in. The aim is to achieve effective eating. Once you feel better, then you can stop eating.

Step 10
When you are feeling less stressed, acknowledge how eating has helped and commit to eating again when you are next hungry. No judgement, no blame – only self acceptance and compassion.

Be well!

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