Do you find that when you ask someone how they are, they respond by saying they are stressed? You nod and silently agree with them. Life can be stressful. This stress can lead to feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. These uncomfortable feelings are very real and can lead to an increase in mindless overeating or eating to lessen the stress. This eating might feel good in the moment, but it can affect your weight and your overall sense of wellbeing.
There is a way out of this stress.
I like a technique used in the 12-step movement called H.A.L.T. Quite simply, H.A.L.T. is an acronym for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. The root cause of overeating can often start with any of those feelings. Using the acronym we will explore how to look at our feelings
First start with the letter H and ask yourself “Am I hungry?” This is the first question because the starting point to eating is asking the question “am I hungry.” You might be experiencing physical hunger which means you need to eat. If the answer is “I am not physically hungry,” then move to the next question to see what might be going on.
Secondly ask yourself “Am I angry?” If the answer is yes, this is the time to use some tools to help you get out your anger. Some tools I find helpful are talking to a supportive friend, taking a walk to clear my mind, or taking some time away from the charged situation.
The third question is “Am I lonely?” If the answer is yes, reflect on what might be leading to the loneliness. Perhaps it is sadness over your current life situation, or you do not feel nurtured by the people around you. If you can change the situation, perhaps that might be the best course of action. If you cannot change the situation, change your mind about it. Letting go of the situation’s power over you can be very effective by telling yourself “I let go of this situation.” I know this might sound simplistic, but it works
Lastly ask yourself “Am I tired?” If the answer is yes, REST. Sometimes situations are overwhelming because you have not gotten enough sleep or down time. Restoring yourself through sleep can be very curative when you are physically tired. You might wake with a whole different perspective.
Life can be stressful, that is for sure. But it does not have to be the reason to overeat. By gathering effective tools such as H.A.L.T. you are then prepared handle tough situations when they arise (because you know they will).
Kim McLaughlin is a licensed therapist and motivational coach. She blogs regularly on topics including binge eating, emotional eating, self help and positive thinking. You can sign up for her FREE Report: Top Tips to End Binge Eating here.