The Weird Trick That Helps Curb Emotional Eating

Do you have a love/hate relationship with parties, nights out, and other social get-togethers?

It’s always wonderful to connect and celebrate with family and friends. But does part of you hate the exhaustion, stress, and emotional eating that comes along with these events?

So often women say to me that they feel in control of their eating when they’re at home, but when they go out to eat with friends or go to parties, it all falls apart in a big way.

Social situations can make you feel judged and pressured by friends and family members to eat a certain way. There are lots of reasons why you might overeat or emotionally eat at parties, including:

  • Distraction
  • Old habits and patterns
  • Social pressure
  • The “just have one bite—don’t be so boring” friends
  • Anxiety
  • Unfulfilled needs (often to connect)
  • Need for pleasure
  • You’re surrounded by food
  • It’s a buffet and portion sizes are difficult to judge
  • Intoxication

Any of these can lead to too many trips to the buffet, overeating, and a lot of guilt and regret in the morning.

After many sick and guilty "morning afters" of my own, I have a few secret weapons up my sleeve.

The quick-fix

If you’re at a party and you feel yourself getting stressed or you can feel the pull of your emotional eating, here’s a surprising trick for you:

Try Tetris.

Yes, that game where colored bricks fall down the screen and you have to flip them around? Research shows that, “playing Tetris reduces the strength, frequency and vividness [of] cravings”. These researchers have done a few studies all showing similar results: that a few minutes of Tetris helps people get out of the brain pattern of "cravings" and into a different state. They even say that Tetris works better than other kinds of distraction or trying to wait your craving out.

So, how does this help you at social events?

Download a free Tetris apps onto your phone and when you feel your emotions, anxieties, or cravings getting to be too strong for you, slip away to the bathroom for a few minutes and play Tetris.

This is a fun and wonderful change from using willpower or force to "subdue" your emotions or cravings.

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The emotional step

As I’m sure you know, your emotional eating is not about the food or physical hunger.

To start with, it can be helpful to ask yourself if you actually enjoy parties. Are you taking the time to enjoy them OR are you forcing yourself to go to events you hate?

A great way to start working through this emotional side of things is journaling. An exercise I love is to take a huge list of all the memories you have around food, body, weight, and social situations. Anything goes—any memory that holds emotion for you. Take your time here and keep going until you feel satisfied.

Then, gently go through each memory you’ve listed and forgive it. Forgive yourself and anyone else involved. You can say out loud (or in your head), “I forgive you for what happened. I’m sorry. I love you.” You don’t have to make anything "right", but you’re releasing the power the memory or emotions have over your current actions or self.

Repeat this exercise as many times as you need or want to release the power old social situations are having on your current reality. This can be a huge burden off your emotional eating.

The planning step

Planning is an amazing tool for healing your eating. When you know you’ve got a social event coming up and you know it’s going to be a trigger for your unwanted eating, try this sequence to set yourself up for success:

  1. Forgive old party, people, and food memories, as detailed above.
  2. Brainstorm your triggers for past overeating.
  3. Make a concise plan to nip those triggers in the bud.
  4. Write out your plan the night before the event, and then again the day of.
  5. Do it.

Using these tips and tools will free you up to enjoy parties and social gatherings without stressing about your eating. This will give you more time to focus on your family, friends, and loved ones, which is such a healing experience. You can definitely enjoy being social without the food stress.

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