Emotional Eating Relapse Prevention

When we continually find ourselves in emotional eating patterns, we ask why we can’t just be “good” and eat what we know we “should”. Good idea in theory, but as you have probably discovered, willpower alone is not enough to change your cycle. Here are some things to think about…..

How has emotional eating caused problems for you? More often than not, we think about emotional eating causing distress about weight gain, but I’m guessing it has also created a lot of shame, distance in relationships, lack of confidence and harmed your self-esteem. When we look at the consequences, it is important to include physical, emotional, social and financial issues your relationship with food has caused in the past.

What are your warning signs for relapse? Think about early warning signs you are heading back into self-defeating patterns with food. The early signs might start days or even weeks before you find yourself struggling with emotional eating again. This is particularly true when you aren’t coping well with stress. Stress leads us to sleep less, exercise less and start eating convenience foods that aren’t nutritionally dense. Do you notice yourself becoming more irritable? Are you finding yourself justifying behavior that isn’t healthy for you long-term?

What does the balance in your life look like? Generally, as we head back into self-defeating eating patterns, we lack balance. Things that we normally do fall by the wayside and we tend to find ourselves zoning out with TV or the internet instead of spending time with other people or engaging in our hobbies. Do you find yourself becoming more withdrawn?

To combat these patterns, plan ahead. Identify potential pitfalls that will lead you off track. Come up with solutions before you find yourself in the middle of an emotional eating relapse. Identify your physical, emotional, mental, social, recreational and spiritual needs. As soon as you find yourself skimping on these important areas of self-care, you are at risk for heading back to emotional eating. Identify positive people in your life who will help support you. Develop stress management skills to take care of the stress before it takes over.

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis

Michelle Lewis has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Weber State University and a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Utah. She has been working in the mental health field since 2001.

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