Emotions are a primary cause for overeating and for choosing unhealthy or “comfort” foods. There are many techniques to help you recognize and cope with your emotions. One of my favorites was developed by Duke University and adapted from some behavioral coping strategies created by other self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. It works like this: Any time you are feeling tempted to eat, ask yourself if you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. The mnemonic for this is H.A.L.T.
If you feel Hungry…
- First, drink a glass of water. Many times, thirst can make you think you are hungry.
- If you are still feeling hungry, but it is not time for your next meal, you may choose to have one of the program snacks such as bouillon or celery or a pickle, or any of the other allowed snacks.
- You can also have another meal replacement product a little early. Some days you may find that you have actually done a 6 and 1 program instead of 5 and 1, and I’m here to tell you, that is perfectly okay. It is much better to have an extra 100 calories through a highly nutritious, well-balanced meal than any other food I can think of. And, you’ll stay in fat-burning status, which is where you want to be!!
If you are feeling Angry, try one of these strategies…
- Stay away from people or situations that trigger anger or emotional eating.
- Learn to disperse this negative emotion by doing another activity such as walking, marching in place, or bicycling.
- It can be helpful to learn relaxation techniques to calm your anger. Here are some exercises to reduce stress caused from anger:
- Shrug your shoulders 10 times.
- Stretch your arms overhead with fingers straight up. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat.
- While keeping shoulders relaxed, tilt your head toward one shoulder and hold 10 seconds, and then tilt your head towards your other shoulder.
- Stand up with your feet apart and swing your arms gently from side to side, feeling your shoulders relax.
If you are feeling Lonely…
- Have activities planned for times when you are feeling lonely, such as calling a friend, planning an outing, doing yard work, or going to the gym.
- Get involved with a new hobby or activity.
- Volunteer at a local shelter or hospital.
- Talk to your health coach and find a good friend that you can talk to about everything, especially your ups and your downs!
- Start your own support group with your friends or co-workers that are also on the program with you. Have a buddy calling system set up.
If you are feeling Tired…
- Take a break away from whatever you may be doing.
- Make sure you are drinking all your water and getting all your meal replacement products in.
- Take a 20-minute “power nap.”
- Practice meditation or yoga, things that can also help reduce stress and feelings of fatigue.
Final Words of Wisdom…
Remember always to replace any negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Take all your past concepts of why you have not been able to lose weight (“I can only stay on a diet for one week.” “My whole family is overweight, so I guess I will be, too.”) and throw them out the window. Fill your mind with a “can do” attitude and don’t let anyone or anything that has happened in the past keep you from reaching your goal! You can do whatever your mind sets out to do. You just have to believe it yourself and want it badly enough to go for it, no matter what!
I know you have the ability to do it…do you?