Imagine you experience a problem or a negative situation.You might feel anxious, frustrated or overwhelmed. How will you respond? Do you head to the vending machine? Or do you problem solve?
A potential binge of chocolate and chips is not the problem. Nor is the weight gain. The real problem is the inability to calm the nervous system, to self-regulate the negative emotions during difficult times.
Obviously we behave differently when we’re calm and relaxed than when we’re frazzled. Our perspective is rational when we’re calm. That’s because we have the thinking and planning brain, the pre-frontal cortex, on board.
During a typical stress response, blood is shunted out of our brain and into our limbs to prepare to fight or flee. We’re not at our most effective in this state, unless we really need to fight or flee – pretty rare in the modern world.
If you are inclined to respond negatively to a problem, or retreat entirely by suppressing your emotions, try becoming aware of your feelings as they occur and self-regulating as soon as you can.
Some of the ways we can regulate our emotions include:noticing and accepting them, reframing the situation, connecting, exercising, deep breathing, meditating, being in nature, or using mind/body/energy techniques. Your dog (and Taylor Swift) will shake it off.
Clients often tell me their weight management was going great until (fill in the blank) happened. Then they returned to the vending machine and other bad habits. That tells me that the problem is not about the food, and it’s not about the weight. It’s about the (perceived?) inability to deal with (fill in the blank), i.e. to regulate the negative emotions.
We’ve been led to believe we can rely strictly on diet and exercise to manage weight. We’ve also been taught to suck up our feelings. If you are someone who responds to problems/emotions with food or drink it will take self-awareness, strategies, and a willingness to change from the inside to make sustainable change on the outside. How do you feelabout that?