A couple of years ago, I was an unhappy overweight emotional eater extremely frustrated by my apparent inability to lose weight (and keep it off) no matter what I tried. I ate healthy, exercised and tried to stay disciplined but I inevitably indulged in stress eating and my weight never came off.
Fast forward to today, I am healthier and happier than ever having lost over 20 pounds. More than the weight, my eating habits are healthy, I don’t suffer from cravings and I don’t binge eat (not even on stressful work nights). The freedom that I have found, the confidence I have gained and the transformation that was possible was all due to changing my mental mindset.
I hope that adopting these seven mindsets will also help you quit emotional eating and get healthier.
I often used to suffer from scarcity mindset when I was around food. I would always eat more because I wasn’t sure if I would wake up in the middle of the night hungry. I was anxious about the fear of missing out on tasty food. This means I always ended up overeating.
Today, I have an abundance mindset – I know that if I love a dish, I can always visit the restaurant again or try cooking it myself. I look at it as an interesting challenge to recreate a restaurant meal at home than worry about missing out. If I am hungry in the middle of the night, I can always wake up and have a snack (I’ve never had to!). I am afraid of hunger anymore, instead I know food is available when I need it.
Do you know all of the “before” and “after” weight loss pictures? I was always dreaming about the “after” never fully grasping how difficult it was to get there. Every other day, I would look at myself in the mirror and wonder why there was no change.
Instead, when I stopped focusing on the end result and put all my energy into being healthy on that day and in that moment, I became much more disciplined at sticking to my plan.
I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and I used this same logic on my health as well – after all, I thought there were only two ways to live – extremely healthy or unhealthy. As a result, if I ever ate a bite of chocolate I would just give up for the day and end up eating the whole bar.
When I changed my mindset to accepting that healthy habits were not all black and white, and that I could exist on a continuum, I was able to stop self-sabotaging myself. Even I went off track by snacking a little, I didn’t lose all the progress I’d made previously by binge eating. This meant that I was steadily making progress unlike taking two steps back with my perfectionist mindset.
I always wanted to get healthier but my day to day schedule never reflected it. Even though I would want to leave work on time and cook dinner, I would inevitably stay late to finish something “important” or turn in that “urgent report” my boss wanted. Looking back, I realized that my actions showed how much more important work was than my health.
When I reprioritized my life, I started leaving work on time no matter what and my healthy routine gradually became second nature to me.
I was also able to get enough sleep each night so I was more refreshed and efficient at work the next day.
Stopping myself from munching on snacks all night or stuffing myself after work at dinner was the hardest part about quitting emotional eating. After all, food made me feel so comforted and I really needed it at the end of a long day.
At these times, having my soap opera dream of a sexy, strong and healthy body front and centre in my mind’s eye was critical at staving off the cravings.
Always remember why you are doing this – is it for a bikini beach body? Is it to feel sexier and more confident? Is it to have more energy so you can play around with your kids? Is it to go out and date more? If you don’t know why you are in this journey, it is difficult to move forward.
Remember how I prioritized my health over work? Well, I still wanted to ace my job and be viewed as a top performer. So, I changed my mindset from working hard to working smart instead.
You can do this too by focusing your time and energy on projects that will produce the maximum achievements, being possessive with your time at meetings and delegating responsibility by empowering your teams.
I was able to get more work done more effectively than before, and was even more happier and energetic at work.
At the end of the day, an unhealthy body is the sign of an unhappy mind. Is there anything else apart from your weight that is causing you unhappiness?
If you are unhappy at work or in your relationships, you will inevitably end up eating to feel better. Unhappiness saps away at your willpower and makes even normal life difficult. Trying something like weight loss and developing healthier habits is a huge challenge even normally, but a sad frame of mind makes it almost impossible.
To make real change, find the true cause of your unhappiness and address it first. You’ll see that physical change that follows will be almost effortless.
Changing your mental model of what works automatically changes your behaviours. These behaviors then have a snowball effect on your physical habits and outcomes. In no time at all, these new behaviors become inculcated healthy habits that will serve you well for the rest of your life.