A huge part of overcoming patterns of emotional overeating is surrounding yourself with resources to support your sense of peace and relaxation that you can turn to in moments of stress—resources that can serve as alternatives to consuming extra food or drink as a means of calming down.
Attempting to quit the habit of overeating all by itself is likely to make you think too much, even obsess, about the absence of the food you would usually want to eat to soothe yourself. It’s important to give your mind another place to turn, to have an stockpile of other behaviors and practices at hand that will enhance your mood and direct your mind toward something equally as relaxing, but different from food and drink. The more options you provide yourself, the better.
Here are seven excellent ideas for stress-reducing activities you can choose that don’t involve eating or drinking. In theory, you could do every one of these things every single day to reduce harmful eating patterns.
Include as many as you like into your daily routine and see what works best for you!
1. Go for a Walk or a Run for 25 minutes
When you feel an urge to eat or drink coming on, try stepping out for some fresh air and a little exercise. Movement and breathing, especially outdoors, will clear your head and has amazing power to reduce stress. You don’t have to jump into high intensity interval training—even light exercise has been shown to boost your endorphin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone.) Walking/running will produce an even more substantial and longer-lasting rush of the same “happy” neurotransmitters released by eating fat and sugar, with health benefits as opposed to detriments.
- Buy a New Lipstick
Pop into your favorite cosmetics store and buy yourself a new lipstick. Trying on a little makeup is a really fun and simple way to improve your mood by appreciating your natural beauty and creating a new look to enhance it. A new lip color will make you feel sexy and confident—show off your new look to your friends instead of filling up on unhealthy food and complexion-dimming cocktails.
- Get your Hair Blown Out
A quick wash and blow out is a really light-hearted and affordable way to relax, boost your mood, and appreciate your appearance. Instead of trying to beat your stress with food or drinks, pamper yourself—enjoy a nice scalp massage and the joyful thrill of a little hair make-over.
- Call a friend
Too often, we try to face challenges alone without accepting or asking for the help we need. When you feel at risk of going over the edge with food, call up a good friend or family member and tell them how you feel. Most likely, he or she will lend an understanding ear and encouraging words, helping you get some perspective on your mood. Even if you don’t feel like discussing your troubles directly, talking to someone you love will transport you into a more positive place and make you smile.
- Drink some Green Tea with a Friend or Coworker
We all need moral support, and feeling the presence of the people we enjoy is sometimes the thing we need most in order to stop fixating on whatever we are struggling with. Try siting down for a cup of green tea with a good friend or a co-worker. Like exercise, socializing has been shown to release endorphins, and the green tea will supply you with tons of antioxidants plus a balanced caffeine boost that will take your mind off any emotional hunger.
- Do a 10-minute Inversion
Practicing inversions is like giving your body a direct line to a better mood. Inversions increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain and upper endocrine system, rebalancing your hormones and neurotransmitters, and delivering a sense of calm and improved mental clarity. Try an inversion to nix your stress before it leads you to overeat. It has an amazing capacity to turn your mood around, and it only takes 10 minutes! Try a head or shoulder stand if it’s in your yoga practice, or, for a more restful inversion, simply put your feet up the wall, lie flat on the ground, and breathe deeply.
- Get a Massage or Reflexology
Stress and anxiety always manifest in the muscles, and as tension adds up over time, it becomes harder to relax your mind and your body. Drop into a nearby spa or nail salon. Even if it’s just for 15 minutes, a massage or reflexology treatment can provide tremendous relief, prevent emotional trigger states around food, and improve muscular, digestive, and hormonal health. See it not as an indulgence, but as an investment in your health.
It is entirely possible to conquer troubled patterns with food, but you’re prone to run into unnecessary struggle if you don’t provide yourself with tangible alternatives to your old eating habits. Providing and remembering a vast number of options for yourself will make this process easier for you.
Try incorporating these seven new habits into your routine, along with 7 Foods You Can Compulsively Overeat without Getting Fat, and experience the inherent happiness and tranquility of using means other than food and alcohol to enhance your sense of wellbeing.
For further exploration into whether of not you may be struggling with emotional overeating, read 7 Signs of Emotional Overeating.
Sometimes abstinence provides a way for you to reset your eating patterns. Beth Shaw and many YogaFit trainers like to use the Purium cleanse occasionally to take a break from food and just drink a delicious green vegan drink as well as amino acids for protein. Purium has mastered the art of phytochemistry (the rejuvenating benefits of plants), capturing the most potent whole food plant extracts from around the globe to repair your body at the cellular level. For more information, please visit YogaFit.com.