Monday, April 21, 2014

Part 3 - Non-food emotional eating triggers- avoiding decisions, problems,and dreaded discussions

Part 3 of a 7 part series: Non-food emotional eating triggers- Avoidance: decisions, problems,and dreaded discussions

The first part of the series links are below.
Part 2: Identifying non-food emotional eating- Stress

 If it's not painful enough, the third most common trigger for me is Avoidance.
1. Decisions
2. Problems
3. Dreaded discussions

Holy Smokes! I get a little stressed out just thinking about this one. Psssst: I even avoided writing this post a few times. 

Anyhoo, it seemed like it was easier to just load up snacks in the evening, stop at a store with candy during the day. Numb out with food, then I didn't have to think. 

Funny thing (okay, not so funny) was that the problem was still there. Doing nothing was a decision that caused more problems. Not only was the problem still there, my clothes didn't fit, I felt horrible, and I had headaches a lot! Not one single time was eating food a solution. But, I continued day- after day. 

Frequency: When ever problems arise AND I'm stuck in the avoidance cycle. This all depends on my mood, sleep, motivation level, and amount of courage I have saved up for the day.

What happens: "problem detection". I'll find myself delaying, thinking about when my next meal is, what my next meal is, or wanting to do something repetitive that I know I can do well. Rather than facing the problem.

Where: Home, work, you name it. There's always an opportunity to avoid problems and decisions.

What happens next: When I call myself on avoiding a problems I usually say to myself "Face it" or simply FACE!  That often will break the cycle of not stepping in and doing something. 

1. Address the problem: send an email, arrange for a day off work, book appointments, make a list of tasks and phone numbers, get into gym clothes, etc. Sometimes it's to just put aside some time and feel the pain, and make a decision. Or to drop out half of the "perfect list" to create a "good enough" list.  Put myself into motion. Notice that all are action items and have nothing to do with food.

Prevention:  The blue font. This stuff doesn't happen overnight. Start where you are and work on it.
0. Recognize my behavior.  (2-3 years)
1. Remember the good outcomes of actions (big and small) from the past. (1-2 years)
2. Remind myself that compared to my whole life, this small think is but a little tiny thing. (1 month)
3. Routine, writing down tasks or to-do lists and checking them off. (6 months)
4. Reward- music, coffee, photography time. No food involved ( I drink my coffee black and don't snack at the coffee shop anymore. (3 months)

Once the numbness of the food left. The problem was still there. The best benefit from "facing it" is the freedom of mind and time once I learned not to avoid with food.

What didn't work in the past:

1. Not taking action once I recognized my behavior.
2.  Not thinking ahead to see the good outcomes
3. Thinking that one or two small things or even one big thing would be a game stopper.
4. Not rewarding myself for the good work I was doing. Not giving myself enough credit.

That's my story. Do you ever avoid difficult things and numb out with food? How do you FACE things you are avoiding?


  1. Hi Karen

    Sorry – I’ve not been around too much lately, but I’ve had a few days off sorting out some family health issues. As the saying goes sometimes real life intervenes …but all is going well now.

    Thank you for taking the time to set out this helpful times we are all guilty of eating the wrong is how we deal with it that is important and not being too heavy on ourselves. It is far better to address any problem NOW and not put it off.

    Take Care

    All the best Jan

  2. Brilliant ideas as always! And expressed in an organized way, too.

  3. Thank you for this! I can relate so well but was embarrassed I was the only one going through it. Much success to you and I continue to be inspired by u.

  4. Being organized helps with everything. And as Jan said, taking care of little problems now instead of big problems later. Sometimes we get stuck in the thought, "I'm so confused!" or "I'm so overwhelmed!" It helps to Google it, use good tools (I like Google calendar, for instance), and make a plan you can stick to (e.g., working out once a week instead of five, keeping carb to 50g a day instead of trying to eat perfectly).

  5. Two biggies -
    Avoiding boredom and avoiding loneliness.
    Those two (requiring action just like a problem or task would) are big factors for a lot of people.

    I am with you 100% on touch it once or get it done while it is still small/easily doable. It is so much easier to keep up than it is to catch up.