Stress Eating

  • How to be Clear, Confident and Trust Your Food Choices

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    With an overwhelming amount of food choices at any given moment, it can be challenging to be clear, confident, and trusting of your food choices.

    Not only the number of choices we have (go down the cereal or yogurt aisle of any supermarket in the States) but also the food and nutrition information/advice we are exposed to—regardless of fact or fiction—is, in a word, excessive.

    How do you know what is best?

    What is “good” for you?

    What will satisfy you?

    Does the portion size on the package make sense given your hunger, the actual amount of food, the type of nutrition (protein, carbohydrate, fat), portion description, etc.?

    It’s easy to be confused, no matter how smart you are! How will you ever trust your food choices?

    And then we factor in the emotional component…

    The part of your brain that wants permission to have whatever you like when you like. It may scream for ice cream for every meal, focusing only on immediate relief. That part of you probably doesn’t want to slow down, so look inside yourself and find out what you like.

    That’s OK. You need this part of you for emergencies when making a snap decision. Gratefully, most of the time, it isn’t an emergency.

    It would be best if you had a plan to break the habit of impulsively reacting to food.

    Conscious Eating provides a foundation for building a better, more peaceful relationship with food so you can trust your food choices.

    What if your emotional part seeks comfort, excitement, interest, pleasure, escape, or something else?

    You probably know what I’m about to say; it’s nothing new.

    Comfort foods are just that, created to satisfy an emotional need. They’re usually meant to provide immediate relief from what’s troubling you.

    That’s why they work to comfort you while you’re enjoying the food. But then you’re reminded of your desires beyond the immediate, and guilt, shame, and disappointment reappear.

    This is where Conscious Eating is your “most terrible gift,” as an old colleague used to say. It’s terrible in that it isn’t easy, but a gift in that it sets you free!

    Trusting yourself and being emotional is rarely thought of together, yet it’s often helpful.

    It can be like your first swim of the summer.

    Dive in and swim around a bit and get to know the temperature.   

    Feel the firmness of the sand beneath your feet and the lightness when you wade into the waves.

    They lift you up and then gently sit you back down on the soft sand swirling around your toes as the tide recedes. Peace on the water is restored…until the next wave…

    This process leads you to Conscious Eating—developing the skills you need to ride the wave of emotion.

    This is the process:

    • feeling
    • experiencing
    • understanding
    • moving through

    You can move through stress eating and reach a place where you no longer need it and you can trust both your food choices and your emotions.

    You feel at peace with yourself, and food has its proper place- nourishment that allows you to enjoy yourself and live your life with consciousness and presence –nourishment in mind, body, and heart.

    Learning to trust your food choices is a three-part process.

    1. Have a thoughtful plan about your “Big Picture.” What is your overall goal? It is not short-term, “six weeks to a bikini body,” but what do you want in life? Rarely is dieting about just losing weight. All thoughts, feelings, meanings, etc., are wrapped up in “I want my body to be different” and moving toward “I want to have peaceful, fulfilling relationships with myself and others.”
    2. Thoughtfully assess your current situation. You will practice being present a lot! Some questions we’ll explore are: What are your options – food, stress relief, work, home, etc.? What is your current energy level, and how does this determine what comes next? Are you authentically living from your heart?
    3. Keep your focus on your future. What will your life be like when you’re at peace and have the goal in hand? This is your payoff, the big motivator- living the life you need and desire! Visualize your life in the future as you want it to be. Create small goals to help you step toward the larger goal each day. Before you know it, you’ll be much closer and more at peace than you think.

    Clear, conscious choice requires you to think about and choose your next move. Although this can feel complicated, it’s the natural process of growth.  Let’s get started!

    The Big Picture or Your Vision for Your Life

    When you look at your life, how do you want it to be? What kind of life are you creating? What are the most important components, values, and lifestyles that lead you to peace?  Is this the life you need to live for fulfillment and contentment?

    Two critical aspects of this question are:

    1. What do you want your relationship with your body to be like?
    2. How do you need to talk to yourself so that you continue to grow?

    The big picture is an evolving process where you refine as you go.

    You can define your goals through brainstorming, mind maps, vision boards and goal sheets. These are all great ways to help you determine what’s essential in your life.

    When you focus on growth, you’ll see patterns and ideas repeat. Do they capture your future vision for your life?

    Although you may not be able to plan down to the exact job, home, or body, you can think about the qualities you need in these areas of your life and invest in transforming them.

    You can get a sense of your future life with statements like,

    “I want to work in a company that values employees’ ________ (creativity, family, innovation, free time, etc.).”  

    “I want to live in a community that values _________ (sustainability, conversation, density, fresh country air, privacy, etc.).”

    This will guide you to be on the lookout for what you want and see if it feels like a good fit.

    You’ll begin to trust yourself, especially when it comes to more minor decisions like your food choices.

    Remember, you can choose something different if you get there and find it wasn’t what you thought.

    Use the information to guide your next choice and grow in your confidence and trust in yourself.

    Assess your current life situation

    Now that we’ve got the big picture in focus, getting there is a process of smaller steps or choice-by-choice decisions you make daily.

    To get there, you’ll make choices that sometimes align with Conscious Eating and occasionally don’t.

    You don’t need to be perfect. Your mistakes will help you identify where you are and how to get to the next place.

    Keep your big picture as your foundation for the skills you develop along the way and use them regularly.

    You’ll need a process to help you through the challenges.  Give yourself the time and attention you need to learn new skills. Changing stress eating requires intention and a process of conscious choice-making.

    Some ideas to keep you present for yourself:

    • Develop a positive growth-oriented mantra; you can find examples here.
    • Journal to keep you focused on the present and get the internal chatter out of your head.
    • Practice yoga, mindfulness, and simple stretching. These mind/body practices can help you get your mind and body in sync.
    • Do only one thing while eating. Eat in peace. Sit at the table and enjoy your food. You may find that you get full faster or that what you thought was enough wasn’t, and you need more. You may discover that you don’t like what you thought you did. Being quiet when you eat has many things to teach you.
    • When your mind wanders down the path of self-doubt, reach out a hand and pull yourself back to growth. Read positive quotes, listen to fun music, and call a friend. There is a push and pull with growth, always inching in the direction of growth.

    Keep your focus on the future and trust your follow-through

    Keep your eyes on the future. This is especially important when you’re developing new habits and your way of being within yourself is different. Like most new things it takes time to learn the ins and outs of new habits.

    Transformation requires fortitude.

    There are lots of things that can be improved. Take the opportunity to learn more about yourself and how to make adjustments that help you reach your goals.

    Shift any negative internal dialogue into curiosity.

    “If I thought about this in the context of my big-picture goals, how would I do things differently?”

    Take action

    Make a plan, and you will get there bit by bit. If you feel a challenge sweeping you away, take a minute to check your point of view and refocus.

    New ways initially feel clunky because you haven’t built up the experience of doing things the new way and that’s okay.

    You’ll learn that, just like standing on the shore, you will find the spot where the waves are no threat. They pleasantly and peacefully wash over your feet, relaxing in the sand. Even when it feels different, it’s also pleasant and perspective-shifting.

    Change is a process of interrelated exchanges and adjustments

    Think about Conscious Eating as a cycle with moving parts that are both unique and predictable at the same time.

    Sometimes, you focus on the big picture and get solid in where you’re going.

    Sometimes, you’re focused on the present, working with the emotion you’re experiencing in the moment and rolling through turbulent waves.

    Other times, you focus on the future, visualizing your life a week, month, or year from now and bask in the feelings of contentment.

    Each part of the process needs the other to move forward.

    Continuing to make adjustments as you become more confident in the skills you develop along the way.

    You are allowing general emotionality to become a specific feeling that you recognize and know what helps you move through it so that you care for yourself compassionately.

    Summing up

    You can be straightforward and confident and trust your food choices.

    This road is much less about specific foods, which isn’t the point anyway.

    Clarity is knowing what is best for you now and trusting that you have the strategy and skills for wise choices.

    You know that life is ever-evolving, and participating in creating the life you need and desire requires flexibility and grace.

    Peace with food is right there for you.

  • 27 Easy Ways to Stop Cravings and Stress Eating

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    Craving: an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing (Merriam-Webster online, July 2016). This is what you’re fighting against when you try to stop cravings and stress eating is as powerful as it can be!

    The good news is that you don’t have to fight. When you work with yourself instead of against yourself, the power of the craving crumbles and you’re no longer pulled toward stress eating. The intensity fizzles, and you are free to make choices without feeling deprived, guilty for giving in, or weak-willed. You can enjoy delicious food and have a peaceful mind and a strong body.

    Here are 27 simple solutions to stop cravings and stress eating you can use right now.

    1. Eat when you’re hungry.

    If your body needs food for energy, there is just no replacing food. You can distract yourself and delay eating for only so long. Your hunger cues may disappear, but you can be sure they will return with a vengeance. Eat a balanced meal. If you’re craving a balanced meal or snack, even better since you’re simultaneously caring for both needs! If it’s not and you’re still craving a particular food, you will most likely experience a less intense desire after the balanced meal. This will give you space to enjoy it, now or later, rather than ravenously eating and perhaps consuming more than you feel comfortable eating.

    2. Enjoy your food.

    Choose what you eat wisely to get both the physical nourishment and the satisfaction your mind and heart need. Sometimes, you will eat purely for fuel. We all lead busy lives, and occasionally, food is merely a means to an end—putting more fuel in the engine so you can keep going. Food is also an important way people experience pleasure. If what you eat isn’t pleasurable on some level, you will be left wanting and unsatisfied most of the time. At least once a day, eat for fuel as well as for the experience of pleasure.

    3. Calm anxiety before eating, rather than eating to calm anxiety.

    This can be tricky since hunger can make anxiety worse. Anxiety can also be one of the early signs of hunger. It gets complicated quickly. Our early ancestors needed heightened awareness to make them more aware of their food and when it was available to catch and eat. Although food is all around, you may become edgy when hunger is ignored. Do your best anxiety-reducing techniques, a few deep breaths, a little calming yoga, a short mindfulness meditation for 2-5 minutes, and then eat a balanced meal or snack.

    4. Make choices based on physical needs first and emotional needs second.

    Check-in with yourself about your level of hunger. Do you need a snack or a meal? Are you even hungry? Has it been more than a few hours since you last ate? If you don’t need fuel, look toward another activity to fill the space you need to fill.


    5. Sit at the table to eat. Be present and engage in the process of eating.

    Set the table and make it a pleasant experience for yourself. Use your favorite place settings, clear the clutter from the table, and play some nice music to enjoy the experience. This will also help you slow down and be more conscious of your physical and emotional hunger.

    It’s normal to crave favorite foods when you haven’t enjoyed them in a while but to stop cravings and stress eating, you can…

    6. Plan for the craved food.

    Sometimes, there’s a food that you enjoy so much that you look forward to experiencing it. This is normal! The way to eat with pleasure and stop overeating is to know that you can enjoy this food whenever you want. When the scarcity is gone, you can give yourself the gift of enjoyment. Make the craved food part of your daily food plan and eat it with awareness and freedom from judgment.

    7. Don’t wait until you’re famished to eat.

    You lose the ability to make conscious choices when you wait too long. Your physiology will drive you to eat whatever you’re craving, usually simple, easily digested carbohydrates because they supply quick energy. Eating a balanced meal will restore your ability for clear thinking and conscious choice-making.

    8. When you tell yourself you’re addicted to sugar, you’ll crave it more.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, sugar is super good, but more than the debate about whether sugar is addicting or not is the belief that eating it leaves you without the option of free will. Shifting your mindset to, “I have the option to eat sweets,” rather than, “I’m forced by my addiction to eat sweets,” gives you space to consider what you want. Sometimes, you will want sugary foods; occasionally, you might want something else after stopping for a moment. You can listen to your mind, body, and heart and choose for yourself.

    9. Do just one thing while eating.

    When you’re driving, watching TV, working on the computer, playing a game on your iPad, reading, etc., you’re typically less aware of what you’re eating. This can distract you from guilt or shame for eating the craved food. When you pay attention to what you’re eating, especially if you can suspend judgment, you may find that less food fulfills your need for it than if you mindlessly half-aware consume it.

    10. Be sure you’re eating well-balanced meals throughout the day.

    You nourish your body with what it needs to function well when you get a blend of carbohydrates, protein, and fat at each meal. This will decrease cravings for missing nutrients and make maintaining stable blood sugar and energy levels easier. Find the mix of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that works for you, but ensure you get a blend of all three.

    Managing stress is something we all need a plan for especially when you want to stop cravings and stress eating.

    11. Take care of stress.

    We all need a plan for managing stress so that when it gets to us, we have options to decrease stress. Increasing awareness of your stressors, planning prevention when possible, and taking action to reduce stress regularly will help prevent cravings and emotional eating as a distraction from what’s bothering you.

    12. You’re tired and looking for energy.

    Cravings, especially for high-energy foods, typically carbohydrates, often result from needing rest. Getting about 8 hours of sleep, or the amount your body needs to wake up feeling rested and not sleepy during the day will decrease this type of craving.

    13. You’re thirsty and need to quench your thirst.

    Your body may need hydration if you crave soda, coffee, iced teas, etc., regardless of natural or artificial sweeteners. Try drinking fresh water and notice if you feel better than if you had a different type of drink. Are you getting enough water, generally eight, eight-ounce glasses a day, or does the flavored drink keep you from getting the water your body needs? Of course, enjoying flavored drinks is okay; just be sure you’re getting the water your body needs, too.

    14. If you’re feeling sluggish, maybe you need to move your body.

    The boost a craved food may give may mask your physical need to connect with your body. Our muscles are made to work, and our joints need movement to stay healthy. Short walks are one of the best natural mood elevators available. Moving in a safe, compassionate, connected way is a form of nurturing your relationship with your body.

    15. Celebrations and food are intimately linked.

    Is the celebration focused on the food or the accomplishment? In the West, birthdays, weddings, or any other important milestone are celebrated with a special cake. This is great! The trouble is when there is an over-focus on the food and an under-focus on the celebration. Other ways of celebrating can be a memorable trip or activities like a movie, roller skating, skiing, bird watching, a craft or art project, a one-on-one walk with someone special, etc. Shift your focus to the celebration, not only to the particular food.

    Pinpoint worries, put them in their place and make a peace plan so you can stop cravings and stress eating.

    16. Worry is often a motivator for cravings.

    Eating is something to do; it takes your mind off of the issue, and depending on the food, your brain will be stimulated to release calming brain chemicals. The way through this is to identify the worry, pinpoint its cause and do what you can to address the situation. Sometimes, this means making an action plan and other times, it means reassuring yourself and creating a peaceful environment when you’ve done all you can.

    17. Motivation for connection.

    Cravings can motivate re-connecting with someone, a memory, thought, feeling, etc. When you crave a specific food, is it the memory or person you want to connect with, and is the food a way to make it happen? The food is the pathway to the relationship you like to experience. This awareness can help you re-focus from the food to the relationship so you get your needs met.

    18. Mindful eating means paying attention to your food’s taste, texture, aroma, colors, etc.

    When you eat a craved food in this way, you can assess your relationship to it. Many people find this an excellent way to break the habit of eating a specific food they may not care for much but eat anyway—out of habit.

    19. The broken record or you can’t get a particular food out of your head and keep returning to it repeatedly.

    Acknowledge that maybe you eat the food will decrease the focus on it. Most people have a rotation of things that they eat frequently. You need to enjoy something different when bored with the same food. Boredom may be the cause and the treatment may be new menu items!

    20. Comfort eating can be a habit rather than taking a risk to trust yourself.

    People are most comfortable with consistency. Feeling safe in the habit can become so secure that you become stuck and convince yourself that you crave food (similar to feeling addicted) rather than take the risk of leaving your comfort zone. Small steps, changing one meal or food, can ease you into a richer relationship with yourself.

    Shift your thinking to creative outlets to stop cravings and stress eating.

    21. Cooking, watching cooking shows and reading recipes can engage your creative self.

    However, looking for the perfect recipe for the food you crave still focuses on the craving rather than what you may need. Therefore, shift your thinking to other ways of being creative. These don’t need to be big projects, expensive, or masterpieces. Look for ideas at your favorite craft store or online.

    22. One last time, thinking – “I’ll only eat this one last time, get it out of my system, and then be done with it.”

    This thinking leads to the next “one last time” episode. You can eat whatever you want, whenever you like and learn the tools to listen to your mind, body, and heart for how much, when, what, etc. You are your guide in your relationship with food.

    23. Create a culture of respect and kindness for your own needs.

    Shift your relationship with your body from domination, “I will not give in to craving,” to a relationship, “Hmm, what’s up that I keep thinking of eating cake every 10 minutes?” This fundamental shift provides breathing room for you to get to know yourself a little more. Understand yourself a little more and, as a result, care for yourself a little more kindly.

    24. Good food vs. bad food.

    While foods have different nutritional values and some are more nutrient-dense than others, this doesn’t imply that less nutritive-dense foods are bad! Food is just food, not good or bad. Most people find that when bad food leaves their vocabulary, they are less inclined to overeat or crave previously judged foods.

    25. Pay attention to how your body feels when you eat certain foods

    This will increase your attunement to how and what you eat based on your feelings. You nourish yourself with foods that make your body feel good and happy.

    26. Leave morality out of it—food is not sinful!

    How many times have you heard, usually at dessert time, “We’re being sinners tonight?” How many foods are called sinfully delicious? What if we accepted that our bodies enjoy pleasurable experiences like eating good food? Acceptance in the fullest sense means honoring your desire for pleasant experiences with food, non-judgmentally.

    Stop dieting and start Conscious Eating!


    This is the best way to solve cravings once and for all. Everything I’ve said so far is summed up in that the simplest solution is establishing a partnership with yourself for your self-care and well-being. This includes nourishing yourself with good food, loving relationships, and pleasurable activities. It also consists of the discipline to stop and invest in your relationship with yourself by honoring what you need for fulfillment: mind, body, and heart.

    Wrapping up…

    Becoming a Conscious Eater is a beautiful gift!

    You can be free from counting, restricting, bargaining and compensating with food.

    Cravings are far less intense and you have tools to honor your desires when you experience them.

    The tradeoff is the responsibility to care for your well-being from a place of self-compassion, honesty, and love. It will sometimes be challenging, and you must push yourself to be uncomfortable. You will learn new skills and develop new habits.

    The time and investment are worth the reward of gaining a richer relationship with yourself, filled with peace!

  • 5 Powerful Ways to Stop Mindless Stress Eating for Good

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    Mindless stress eating may seem like nothing more than relief from a stressful moment in life.

    It’s like tasting something delicious will take the bitterness out of life.

    But, when it happens repeatedly and you feel guilty about it, it’s a recipe for shame and regret.

    We all have basic needs, like a roof over our heads, money, and, of course, at the most basic level, fuel for our bodies in the form of food.

    Our more personally specific needs like love, companionship, a sense of purpose and belonging, feeling calm and at peace, or knowing how to manage your emotions are just a few. Identifying how much you need and when quickly is more complex – they’re more specific to the flexible.

    Sometimes, a need bubbles to the surface slowly over time.

    At another time, your impulses are strong and fully capture your attention, convincing you that changing the direction you’re headed in is a waste of time and energy.

    Reaching for the candy dish while thinking about a stressful client meeting relieves the unpleasant feelings of frustration. But the stressful meeting is still there waiting for you to fix it, regardless of the sweet candy distraction.

    Mindless stress eating can be a way to get your attention and be present so you can make conscious choices that lead you where you want to be.

    What makes the most significant difference in stress eating? Give yourself space to pay attention to what matters so you can make choices that matter in your life.

    Five unmet needs that lead to mindless stress eating and ideas to help.

    1. Connection – be around people who are a positive influence

    Creating this type of community, if you don’t already have it, is one of the most important ways to stop mindless stress eating.

    Changing your mindset and habits and learning to regulate your emotions so you work well with them is easier when you’re around people who are also on a personal growth path.

    It’s energizing to have a conversation with another person who shares your interests, is open to learning and looks toward the future with hope.

    How does this help stress eating when it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with food?

    Maybe you’re into taking a photography class, joining a quilting guild, taking a painting course, going antiquing with a friend, joining a sailing club, taking a meditation course, or anything else you might be interested in that is creative, positive and growth-enhancing lowers overall stress and shift your focus.

    Creating new connections and being around forward-thinking people supports a growth mindset. Your brain needs something to do, or it will default to doing what uses the least energy – like going back to old ways of thinking. Giving your brain something to do that interests you creates new neural pathways that help you shift your thinking to what you want.

    2. Kindness and self-compassion

    When mindless stress eating takes hold, the usual response is to criticize, find fault and withhold self-compassion. For high-achieving women, there’s a bias toward being tough and not giving in. Since you’re already disappointed or frustrated with yourself, it can lead to even more stress eating.

    The antidote is kindness and self-compassion. They both allow you to gain perspective and assess what worked and didn’t so you can adjust and move forward with more helpful self-knowledge.

    Kindness and self-compassion give you the perspective you need to make the changes that lead to less stress.

    3. Take a break from being busy

    Everyone needs a break sometimes. This doesn’t mean you must wait until vacation to get the space you need. Our attention is pulled in so many directions that choosing what you want is often difficult.

    Sometimes unplugging helps to allow some breathing space so you can see challenges as they are and avoid mindless stress eating altogether.

    Slow down and consider what you need. Give yourself the gift of time to figure out what you need. It’s an opportunity and you might be surprised at what you find.

    4. Accept where you are while keeping your focus on your future.

    Acceptance does not mean giving up on your goals. Acceptance means being right where you are now while remaining thoughtful about your future. Thoughtfulness is one of the most effective ways to prevent mindless stress eating.

    Acknowledge your work and be aware of your need for rest. Allow yourself time to integrate the changes you’re making.

    When you’re present, you’ll have the energy to focus and rebuild your enthusiasm for your next goal.

    5. Transform your relationship with food.

    Nourishment, how you eat to sustain your energy and satisfaction, is the key ingredient to stop mindless stress eating permanently – it’s not what, but how.

    A change in mindset can give you the calm you need to stop being led by impulse. It also stops the feelings of self-betrayal, body shame, overwhelm, and just plain not feeling good.


    You can enjoy food, maintain healthful goals, feel good about what and how you eat, feel good about your body, respect your need for movement, honor physical activity, and grow your self-esteem. These are big promises and they are also entirely achievable results. You can live the life you desire with less stress and a lot more calm, clarity and connection – the key ingredients to stop mindless stress eating.

  • How to Gain Momentum without Stress Eating or Burning Out

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    Learn the 5 steps needed to keep up your forward momentum without stress eating or burning out.

    Cathartic – bringing about relief from strong emotions, usually by expressing them (Merriam-Webster).

    We are encouraged to “just get it out and you’ll feel better,” which is true often. Most of my clients feel relieved when they talk through pent-up feelings. It’s the feeling of a weight being lifted off their shoulders. And the result is feeling less stressed, even for a little bit.  

    Sometimes, an epiphany, spark, insight, or whatever it is called will happen, but that is rare.

    Simply understanding why or when stress eating starts rarely stops it in the future, and your forward momentum without stress eating requires different skills.

    Waiting for the ‘why’ to appear wastes your time and energy. You can use energy to create momentum that moves your life in a less stressful and more positive direction.

    Momentum provides the energy for action-taking so that you receive what you need.

    Instead of spinning around in circles, re-experiencing the emotion repeatedly, harness that energy and use it to transform your relationship with stress eating and burnout.

    You can propel your life into a life of kindness, self-compassion and fulfillment. You can change your relationship with yourself and keep up your momentum without stress eating and burning out.

    The key is to increase your emotional awareness so that you know how to support yourself when you experience a specific emotion.

    Right at the beginning, the most challenging part of the process is the decision to act, and the rest is focus and tenacity.

    Even when stress is high and you feel spen,t youcan stilln make changes that matter.

    The Stages of Change Model is a great framework to understand the change process. Carlo C. DiClemente and J. O. Prochaska conceptualized these changes based on their research about how people can move out of addiction. Many studies have shown that the process is the same regardless of whether it’s addiction, a job, an organization, or stress eating.

    There are five stages of change:

    1. Pre-contemplation – not ready or not aware that there’s a problem.
    2. Contemplation – knowing there’s a problem and you want to do something about it but are not ready yet.
    3. Determination – you make a plan on how to solve the problem.
    4. Action – you take action on your plan to solve the problem.
    5. Maintenance – you do what you need to do to maintain the solution.

    Since you’re reading this article, you’re most likely in the contemplation stage. You know there’s a problem. You want to change it, but you’re unsure how it’s getting to you. Another thought might be that you don’t know if the solution will be any better than the current one, even when you know it’s not helpful. Lastly, you might not be ready to give up the solution, no matter how much it pains you.

    The next stage of determination is when you’re making the plan and using the tools below to help you develop your plan to stop stress, eating and burning out. Your hope is growing and you’re optimistic that life will be better without stress eating.

    Action is the stage where you implement your plan and make adjustments as needed. As you progress in this stage, you’ll experience relief from stress eating and the peace of Conscious Eating.

    Below is a plan to help you move through these three middle stages of change. Moving through the stress is worth the effort, so you can live free from stress eating and prevent burnout.

    Here is the 5-step process to work with your feelings and gain momentum without stress eating or burning out.

    1. Get the feeling out.

    This is where it’s all about catharsis. Get the feeling out of your head and on paper through journaling, in conversation with someone, in artwork, etc. Just get it outside of yourself so you can get a little distance from it living inside you.

    Go outside and experience the feeling while getting fresh air and perspective.

    Focus on how you experience the feeling and any new insight about it.

    Allow yourself time to understand the feeling as you experience it. The more you consciously experience the feeling, the more awareness of what can help increases.

    2. Specifically, identify the feeling.

    The next step is to increase your knowledge of the feeling you’re experiencing.

    What sense do you have of the feeling?

    What does it feel like in your body?

    Does the feeling increase anxiety, anger, impatience, or something else?

    This will help you figure out what you need to calm the feeling.

    When you listen to what your mind, body and heart communicate, you’ll have the necessary information to move to the next step.

    3. Specifically, identify the feelings surrounding the situation.

    Take note of the more minor feelings that pop up as you spin around the feeling that’s got your attention.

    What other aspects of the feeling are you noticing? Sometimes, it’s helpful to think of them as sub-feelings. Think of them in terms of percentages. It might be 10 percent of one feeling, 30 percent of another, 70 percent of a different one.

    These feelings add to the quality of the main feeling you’re experiencing. They will help you understand your relationship with yourself more fully.

    They also help you to define what you need from yourself, your body and others.

    4. Specifically, define what you need.

    Now that you have a pretty good idea of the qualities of the feeling you’re experiencing and the more minor feelings that help to shape your experience.

    Take a step back and look at the big picture –

    What is it that you wish you could have to make it better?

    Are there skills that could calm or soothe the feeling?

    What will get you closer to your goal?

    5. Now, take a few minutes and think about a variety of choices you can make to move you closer to living your life more fully, more consciously.

    This can even include “not yet.” It’s okay to take time for planning. The challenge is increasing your awareness of when you’re scared and procrastinating so you’ll know when it’s time to take the leap and get moving.


    Getting started is often the most challenging part of any journey. Moving from a standstill takes more energy than taking one step after another. When you feel burned out, it takes even more energy. Yet, when you change a bit at a time, it adds up and can change everything.

    Most of the time, people get overwhelmed by feelings because they’ve never known that understanding your emotions is a skill that can be learned at any point in life. Gaining momentum without stress eating or burnout is easier when you have a framework to manage your emotions. Today is the day that changes for you!

  • 3 Steps to Stop Struggling with Stress Eating Right Now

    blog post title graphic with purple modern flowers on a beige background that says, 3 Steps to stop struggling with stress eating right now

    Struggling with stress eating may go something like this…

    If I could…

    …find the right way to eat, I won’t have cravings.

    …gain some more willpower, I would be stronger and I could resist my urges.

    …detox from addictive/sugary foods, I would be free.

    …stick with something long enough for it to take.

    get to the bottom of why I struggle with stress eating; I wouldn’t have a food problem.

    What’s so wrong with this way of thinking?

    These all seem reasonable if you buy into a diet mentality that focuses on food being the problem.

    But when we’re working on healing stress eating from the viewpoint of Conscious Eating, it’s a whole other world out there!

    Fortunately, it’s a world of helpful information, growth-oriented and focused on healing your relationship with yourself, food and your body.

    Struggling with stress, eating isn’t about food.

    The struggle with eating stress begins with a shift from focusing on food. Instead, developing a richer awareness of your emotions, what to do with them, and how to calm your mind and body is the pathway to long-term change, so you no longer need stress eating.

    You probably have a pretty good idea about what “healthy” eating is. Since you’re reading this online, you can access great nutritional information from various sources here and here.

    The old way of thinking is that you’ll have more control if you get the nutrition right, but it doesn’t work like that. It’s an illusion that information instills motivation. The illusion leads to a belief that you’ll stop struggling with stress eating by changing what you eat.

    Relationships are complicated

    If it were this easy, you would have accomplished this already. Relationships are complicated and your relationship with food and stress are both multi-layered. And when you combine the two, the layering is doubled!

    The problem is that making sense of emotional experiences and translating them into language or feelings is sometimes complicated. But, when it’s challenging to make sense of the feeling quickly, this is when struggling with stress eating happens. Stress eating is calming and when you can think of it as one way to calm yourself, it can help to relieve some of the shame, guilt, or regret about it so that you can explore other ways to calm and feel better without mindlessly stress eating.

    A lot of the time, getting specific about how you feel helps. On the surface – ‘I’m mad or angry’ states your thoughts. But, to prevent stress eating, you’ll need to put a finer point on it like, ‘I’m feeling frustrated and disappointed that my thoughts and feelings aren’t being acknowledged and taken into account when a decision is made.

    That level of emotional awareness requires a different type of response than one that is ‘anger.’ It requires you to take some time for you to focus on your needs. When you assess what you need, consider the best choice so your stress level decreases and you probably won’t be thinking about food too much.

    If your attention does shift to food, it could be for comfort, distraction, habit, etc. That’s okay since now you know what you need and can choose to eat.

    You can assess your hunger or fullness.

    You can consciously assess if you want to eat, consider how you might feel, and if it will help you. You can choose whether it’s what you want or if something else feels better.

    The good news is that these are all decisions you consciously make, one feeling at a time.

    This increased knowledge or awareness is at the heart of struggling with stress eating.

    When you develop the skills to calm your stress reactions, you also interrupt the cycle of stress eating. As you learn more about your internal reactions and how to calm them, you’ll be well on your way, no longer struggling with stress eating.

    Emotional awareness is the antidote to struggling with emotional eating.

    Emotions can feel overwhelming, but let’s break it down into more manageable parts.

    How do you create the emotional space between yourself and food so you can figure out what you need?

    The key to emotional mastery is learning the skills for greater emotional awareness to reduce your stress and prevent any struggle with stress eating before it starts.

    Three ways to change your relationship with stress and stop struggling with stress eating.

    1. Reconnect with your sense of calm.

    There’s a part of you, no matter how small or how long it’s been since you’ve experienced it, that can feel a sense of calm. At least once a day, create some space to be quiet and notice how you feel when there isn’t anything pressing happening. The idea is to create a restful, calm sense of self.

    Creating a restful place inside yourself is a process. No one is perfect and sometimes tapping into your calm place is more manageable than at other times.

    Calming yourself is a skill that you can learn at any time in life and it gets easier with practice.

    The goal is to give your mind and heart a little space so you can increase your emotional awareness.

    2. Identify the feeling that most frequently leads to stress eating.

    The next step is to identify the feeling or feelings you experience before struggling with stress eating.

    When you identify your feelings, you’ll most likely think of general feelings like, mad, sad and angry, which is a good starting point.

    Now that you’ve identified the general feeling, you can spend a little time breaking it down into smaller parts and maybe thinking about the feeling from different aspects of the feeling as you fine-tune how you feel.

    One tool many of my coaching clients use is looking up alternative words in a thesaurus.

    Use the thesaurus to increase your emotional vocabulary and try on, so to speak, some of the feelings. Look up the dictionary definition and see if it fits how you feel. You might even find different words as you do a little investigation into your feelings.

    The more specific the feeling, the closer you get to taking care of your emotions and struggling with stress eating less.

    This part of the process can also be a relief and fun. Knowing how to describe your feelings is very accessible since it helps you understand what to do to feel better. It gives you direction for improving your relationship with yourself.

    3. Develop your emotional mastery plan

    Changing how you take care of yourself, struggling with stress and identifying and managing your emotions is life-changing. When you have options about how you respond to your emotions, true freedom dissolves stress.

    You are in control, not vague and confusing feelings that lead to stress eating. The result is that you’re back in control and struggling with stress eating isn’t an issue.

    A plan for identifying your feelings can look like this:

    1. Acknowledge the discomfort you feel.
    2. Take a deep breath and give yourself some space. If it’s not an emergency, you don’t need to treat it like one; you have time.
    3. Identify whether you are hungry, tired, or thirsty. If it’s not physical, then…
    4. Identify what you feel uncomfortable about – work, home, or your relationship with yourself.
    5. What is the “big” overall feeling? This feeling could be the overall summary of how you’re feeling.
    6. You can then break it down into more minor, nuanced feelings and see if something more specific fits.
    7. Think about what you need and what type of self-care will help you move forward and take action for your well-being.
    8. Ask yourself if you need to open up to more possibilities.
    9. Is a conversation with someone needed?
    10. Do you need to use a different set of skills when the feeling comes around again?

    As you read this in the protocol, it’s a linear, step-by-step list. But as we know emotions aren’t that structured at all! They are messy and confusing and may feel very strong one instant and then morph into something else a few minutes later.


    Identifying your feelings is often one of mulling things over time. You can come back to it when you realize another aspect later.

    As you work on your emotional mastery, your ability to name and calm your emotions will get easier, faster and much less stressful.

  • 3 Ways to Turn Body Hate into Body Love

    blog post title graphic with a blue modern flower and beige background that says, 3 ways to turn body hate into body love

    There are two paths – body hate vs body love.

    There is no in-between, justifications, or talking yourself into what-ifs.

    Maybe I like the color of my eyes, but my legs are too short. Or perhaps I like the way my body moves, just not the muscles or the bit of jiggle. There isn’t room for an in-between-the-line sort of perspective.

    Can you parse out your relationship with your body like that and still have a “healthy body image?”

    It doesn’t happen much, but there are all-or-nothing situations. The gray areas only serve to distract from how you truly feel. When the painful reality of how much body hate you endure daily, it’s time to make a real commitment to change.

    Two Paths: hate or love.

    Why do you hate your body?

    The path of hate is an easy one. You can continue living with negative thoughts and feelings about your body and you’ll find a lot of company. It’s how we’re socialized, especially women, that there’s always something not good enough. It’s expected that you will join in the negative body talk. For many people, it’s a bonding experience to share your pain of dissatisfaction with your body.

    If you tend toward stress, eating is the usual fallback to soothe the pain – temporarily.

    Self-deprecating humor about your body means saying, ‘Yep, we’re in the same boat; I don’t like myself either!’

    Going along with the crowd

    You can continue to agree with the millions of magazines, social media posts, radio and TV commercials, billboards, and so on that tell you your body could be better. The way to cure body hate is through diet and exercise. It’s the logic that if you do this, you will love yourself, and your life will magically fall into place because you’ve reached some physical acceptability.

    Okay, maybe they don’t say the last bit, but the message is loud and clear for many people.

    You might think, if this celebrity spokesmodel can make it happen, so can I! The plan they’re selling will finally get me you where you’re supposed to be.

    Do this and you will receive lots of other good things in life.

    Sometimes, it’s even presented that you don’t deserve good things or aren’t worthy if your body is less than some arbitrary acceptable definition.

    These messages are often followed by competing messages that show delicious-looking foods that will bring fun and happiness into your life. You follow the trigger and assure yourself this is the last stress-eating episode.

    Mindset and body love

    From a mindset perspective, this type of thinking falls into the fixed mindset category. You’re looking outside of yourself to change the way you feel. It makes sense if you haven’t experienced a different self-relationship; how would you know a different way is possible?

    Carol Dweck, a Stanford researcher who studies mindset, has shown that people who have a growth mindset are better able to take risks, challenge their fixed mindset beliefs, and are willing to identify fixed mindset triggers and learn from them. This means that when you approach life from a growth mindset, you’re eager to evolve and incorporate new ways of being with yourself, even when what you know doesn’t work and you’re not sure what will work.

    When applied to transforming body hate into love, you need to willingly look clearly at your thoughts and feelings as well as the conversations you have with yourself and others about body image, so you can identify triggers that keep you in a fixed state of hate.

    You can also take action when you stop paying attention to information that doesn’t help; even when it’s uncomfortable, try a different way.

    Just think of how much time and energy you’ve spent keeping things the same. You were searching for an answer in something that worked for someone else instead of listening to yourself. Paying attention to your body so that you receive the information you need to become who you need to be.

    How to grow your body love

    The path of love is much more difficult.

    The path of love takes time.

    The reward is the transformation from the inside out – real, lasting change.

    What I can promise you is that if you take the path of love, you will –

    • get frustrated
    • doubt you’re on the correct road
    • make mistakes.

    These are all expected and welcomed because this is where change grows into new ways of being with yourself.

    Transformational change results in a life shift that is nearly impossible to reverse.

    The changes become part of who you are.

    Why do we often take the path of hate when love is so much better?

    The path of hate has many people you can join up with.

    There’s a lot of advice and support to stay in the struggle and stay the same. Keep up the battle and live in discontent with your body because we’re all together on this! It’s familiar and the reinforcement you receive is all around.

    The old stories you tell yourself need somewhere to go. It would be best if you stashed the discomfort to get relief. All the better if you can blame outside of yourself. But the problem is that you’ll need to wait for society, your family, the media to change before you can feel better. Your power is stripped away.

    Family Body Stories

    Body stories are like other lore. They are passed down from your parents, teachers, coaches, culture and kids will either rebel or adopt these beliefs.

    Many studies have examined family relationship patterns (here, here, here) and their influence on body image. What we know is that especially in mother–daughter relationships, the unhappier mom is with her body, and there is increased body image and eating problems in the child. Without intervention, this relationship pattern continues into adulthood and gets passed down to the next generation.

    The research has also shown that when parents have a positive relationship with their bodies, it provides insulation from body image issues and the diet messages that bombard us in daily life.

    It’s a big culturally acceptable bath of yuck that most women, at one point or another, will jump into and sadly never get out of.

    The struggle is having a healthy, loving relationship with your body.

    Maybe you would like to change your weight, find an exercise plan you enjoy, make some changes to how you eat and generally feel better in your body. That’s great!

    You can do any or all of those things and protect yourself from the influence of a fixed mindset by focusing on what you think and instead doing what’s right for you.

    Your body story influences your day-to-day life, so make it supportive!

    Here are three ways to help you get started

    The first step is to pay attention to the little things you say to yourself. The judgments and comments you make to others about your body and eating habits. Also, the silent judgments you make about others that you would be mortified if they found out. Kindness and compassion are a circle that supports emotional well-being for all when it’s freely given and received.

    1. Challenge yourself with supportive questions

    • Is this what I want to say to myself and how does this affect me by giving voice to it?
    • Is this thought or feeling leading me to health and well-being?
    • Does this help me become who I need to be, or does it keep me standing still?

    Having some supportive and compassionate statements at the ready is also helpful. Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered just below.

    2. Reframe your story; every ‘because’ argument has at least two sides

    You’re the one who decides which direction to go. Sometimes, it must be true if it’s something you’ve thought or heard for many years.

    But is it? People can change at any point in their lives. Sometimes, it takes minimal effort and other times, it can seem like you’re moving with lead weights strapped to your ankles. Keep moving anyway.

    When change happens slowly, allow yourself to acknowledge all the tiny victories because they will add to the change you want to happen.

    When change happens quickly, remember all the time, thought, planning and action you have put into making it a reality. Most overnight successes were years in the making.

    Both fast and slow changes need to be honored – with abundant love.

    You’re more likely to make healthful decisions when you feel better and your self-esteem is high. Positive creates more positive. This is why the path of love, although more challenging to navigate at first, becomes more accessible. You will experience more freedom and greater well-being in the process.

    3. You can choose love over hate at any time

    You can change your thoughts and they have the power to transform body hate.

    Here are some alternative statements to get you started:

    I hate my body.

    Alternative: I’m nurturing a loving relationship with my body.

    My ______ is too fat/thin.

    Alternative: My body is just as it needs to be now, and I am evolving. 

    My ______ says I’m ______.

    Alternative: I choose my relationship with my body and nurture myself with love.

    I feel fat!

    Alternative: I have many feelings and there’s more to feeling fat.

    I can’t eat ______.

    Alternative: I choose foods that nurture my mind, body and heart.

    I need to work off those calories!

    Alternative: I am integrating all food choices into my lifestyle and I move my body with peace.

    My body doesn’t like me.

    Alternative: I am getting to know another side of my relationship with my body and practicing self-compassion is part of it.

    I feel gross like this.

    Alternative: I am changing and sometimes I will feel uncomfortable and it will pass.

    I’m just not attractive.

    Alternative: I am growing in my appreciation of beauty in all aspects of myself.

    I wish I had ______.

    Alternative: I have all that I need right now and know that I may change in the future.

    I don’t feel like myself anymore.

    Alternative: I am focusing on being present and learning what I need to care for myself in new ways.

    In Sum

    Use this list as a starting point to become more aware of your internal conversation. Use the awareness to shape statements to provide you with the information you need to support and trust yourself – that you can change your self-relationship and be comfortable in your body.

  • 3 Principles to be a Conscious Eater for Life

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    We all want to eat healthy, live well, and be our best selves. Unfortunately, stress eating can rob you of your best intentions. Fortunately, when you become a Conscious Eater, you learn how to experience and maintain freedom from stress eating.

    The cycle of stress eating usually goes something like this –

    • something happens that triggers an uncomfortable emotion
    • you reach for the chocolate (or whatever you like) one more time to calm down
    • enjoying the deliciousness of it is soothing
    • you promise yourself it’s the last time and you’ll “be good.”
    • feeling guilty about eating for emotional comfort

    Sometimes, it’s all of these emotions simultaneously, and that’s incredibly frustrating. The kicker is that it usually leads to even more stress in the long run.

    When you need quick relief from the stress, it’s not like it can wait – you need it as soon as possible!

    At the same time, stress eating isn’t a solution that lasts and if you’re reading this article, I bet you know it’s a cycle that repeats despite your best intentions.

    I also bet that you know when you stop stress eating, you’ll feel in control and that’s a good thing. The goal is to be at peace with yourself, your body, and your life and ultimately make peace with food for good.

    Another diet isn’t the answer because how you use food is the real problem.

    You’re probably at the point where you want more than feeling good about your body – you want to own your life!

    It’s motivating to keep going when you feel in control of your life. Losing weight, joining a new gym, or reading a great self-help book can be the spark, but when the sole focus is losing weight – that’s the definition of putting all your eggs in one basket. The problem is that you either “fall off the wagon,” or the excitement disappears when you reach your goal. That’s when people revert to the same Eating and physical activity behaviors. What you’re left with—well, you—and that feeling of ‘what do I do now?’ How do I maintain my balance without fearing the next stressful eating episode is just around the corner?

    You want, no, you need absolute freedom from stress eating.

    A whole-person perspective that integrates mind, body and heart would be great. After all, it would be best if you lived with yourself, and you want to be happy too.

    Conscious Eating is a way of living in a relationship with yourself that lasts a lifetime.

    You can live a long and happy life where you feel good in mind, body and heart while you experience freedom from stress eating.

    Creating a relationship with yourself leads to lasting change based on trust and respect so you can take care of your emotional well-being.

    You can stop stress eating and become a Conscious Eater.

    Fortunately, Conscious Eating supports you in making positive, life-enhancing changes that you can integrate into your life anytime.

    Conscious Eating is listening to your heart in the present moment, free from judgment, with the knowledge that you can provide yourself with the nourishment you need for a fulfilling life.

    Respect, kindness, and compassion are the hallmarks of Conscious Eating.

    Each time you eat, you can pause, center yourself and come to the table for nourishment and well-being.

    Conscious Eating frees you from the fear of missing out, which is often fueled by the anxiety that you must have what you want now for one of these reasons:

    • it may be gone soon
    • this is the last time
    • the diet starts tomorrow

    Mindless Eating can be like that.

    Sometimes it’s:

    • distraction
    • avoidance
    • controlling feelings that seem unmanageable

    Stress eating focuses only on the food, without regard for your nutritional needs, preferences, or whether you want to eat.

    It is impossible to Consciously Eat what you don’t want or like without experiencing a conflict because you’re out of alignment with yourself.

    Conscious Eating is liberating.

    Conscious Eating frees you from overfocusing on food and underfocusing on your emotional well-being.

    You can create the space to stop momentarily, give yourself time and identify your feelings.

    What are you hungry for, and what might be satisfying?

    Conscious Eating is a fundamental shift in your mindset about how you listen to yourself and take care of yourself.

    Conscious Eating requires compassionate patience.

    As a Conscious Eater, you’ll learn to nourish yourself in the word’s meaning.

    Nourishment: to provide food and other things needed for health, growth, etc.

    The goal is to truly enjoy your relationship with food and your body without guilt, negative self-talk, excuses, or shame.

    Each meal is one moment in time.

    Food has its proper place in your life and is one aspect of life – sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it’s a small part. Nonetheless, there are other equally meaningful parts of life.

    Sometimes, you will eat purely for fuel. You are hungry, busy, and need nutrition to function well. Knowing when you need to be quick and efficient versus when you can savor your meal is part of Conscious Eating.

    There is no such thing as a perfect eater!

    Real life happens.

    You may have days where there is one meeting after another and your energy needs are met through one energy bar after another or one cup of coffee too many.

    You may have days when what’s available isn’t appealing and you need to take care of your body and eat what’s available.

    Sometimes we eat just for energy and that’s okay.

    During times like these, Conscious Eaters are kind and compassionate, knowing they make the best decisions.

    You can nourish yourself and have confidence that you will have many opportunities to enjoy the foods you love.

    You can get back to listening to your natural rhythms.

    Becoming a Conscious Eater is often like getting back to nature. Eating more naturally, most of the time. It is like when you were little and ate because you were hungry and stopped when you were full. Even when you had something delicious, like your favorite ice cream, you listened to your body and stopped when your body let you know it was enough.

    And if this was not your experience growing up — maybe you never had the opportunity to listen to your body — you can learn how to listen now.

    Conscious Eating is a skill that you can develop at any time in your life.

    On the other hand, stress eating is a habit you can unlearn anytime!

    At some point in life, we all realize it’s not about weight or how you look in the mirror.

    It is more about how you want to live with yourself.

    Conscious Eating supports a relationship with yourself that is kind and compassionate in how you talk to yourself about your body and life.

    Breaking free from body criticism, stress eating, or the diet mentality is difficult.

    Whether it’s your conversations with others, television commercials, the latest magazine article, pop-up ads, or books, the message is how easy it will be to follow this or that plan and lose weight. Your reward will be unending happiness because a perfect body is the key to the good life. It’s a seductive message, but it isn’t reality.

    If a quick fix worked, we wouldn’t have so many new diets or “failures.”

    The solution isn’t easy. Freedom from stress eating takes effort.

    The reward for becoming a Conscious Eater is experiencing the fullness of life.

    Your life is yours to live right now- no longer being ruled by your feelings and led down the road of emotional eating one more time.

    You honor your life whenever you dare to risk listening to yourself.

    A wealth of knowledge about essential nutrition is easily accessible. Your challenge is to work within the parameters that fit for you. Respect any adjustments you need to make, given your specific health concerns.

    This process increases awareness, adjusts, and helps you move forward with new knowledge.

    There is no one size fits all; there is only what best fits you.

    Most of all, Conscious Eating is natural, kind, and filled with peaceful self-compassion.

    Conscious Eating breaks diet habits and leads to a calmer, more reasonable, thoughtful relationship with food.

    Often, when women talk about “my relationship with food,” it comes from a position of power – the food being more assertive.

    The diet mentality (there are good foods/bad foods, healthy/unhealthy food, the need to count calories, fat, carbohydrates, gluten, or whatever is the “baddy” of the moment) leaves your knowledge and wisdom about yourself out of the equation.

    There is a seesaw back and forth between knowing that you need to follow your path versus the overwhelming message that this plan or that diet will be “the one.” You never really reach a middle ground.

    Consciously make decisions that are guided by your self-knowledge.

    Struggle happens when you can’t integrate the latest diet fad into your life. “I start my diet on Monday,” it is just too much of a jolt to the system.

    Making changes gradually over time and allowing yourself to adjust to change step by step is usually more successful.

    Many women have been brought up with the cultural idea that feeling good about yourself and your body is not possible. You may have grown up believing that you are supposed to look a certain way or that there is one acceptable body type.

    If your body does not match up well, how could you ever feel good, never mind accept yourself?

    Conscious Eating is grounded in caring and compassion and provides nourishment, not only for your body with food but also for your mind and heart with peace.

    Conscious Eating Questions:

    • What is your body asking for?
    • What do you need to nurture your whole self?
    • What is your energy level for your planned activities?
    • What fuel do you need now—food, motivation, inspiration, peace, or something else?
    • What are your emotional needs?
    • Where is your heart leading you?

    It can be challenging to answer these questions thoughtfully in the beginning.

    Sometimes, you are swept up by emotions, thoughts, and memories and it is unclear what will calm your anxieties and fears.

    Longing for food can seem uncontrollable at times.

    The way out is to allow yourself some space and figure out what you need and how to nurture yourself as you experience it.

    Give yourself time and space to let the questions simmer. Give yourself the gift of thoughtfulness.

    3 Basic Elements of Conscious Eating – Mind, Body and Heart

    1. Mind – how your feelings shape your thoughts

    Most of us have the basic feelings: mad, sad, happy. One of the great things about Conscious Eating is that you learn to be more specific in identifying your feelings.

    With increased emotional awareness, your emotional vocabulary grows, leading to more options for best working with them.

    Rather than using food to calm or elevate your mood, you have many choices. For example, there are many ways to describe happiness. Joy, elation, glee, delight, well-being, merry. Each of these feelings has a different quality and experience of pleasure.

    Increasing your repertoire or vocabulary of emotions allows you to match the feeling with positive action.

    You can work with the emotion and move your life in the desired direction.

    Fulfillment, happiness, and peace in your relationship with food are possible because now you are taking care of your emotional health in ways that directly address what is missing.

    2. Body – How do you physically feel?

    Conscious Eating naturally leads you to regularly check in with your body with kindness and compassion.

    Conscious Eating allows you to check in with your subtle hunger cues and your need for movement, flexibility, and sleep.

    Most importantly, you respect your body’s information and meet your needs.

    A healthy relationship is built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect.

    Your relationship with your body’s hunger and satiety signals needs trust and respect, too!

    Conscious Eaters, stop, listen, and take good care.

    Allow yourself the time to check in and wait for an answer. Remember, snap judgments lead you away from consciousness.

    3. Heart – Quiet reflection

    The gift of listening to your heart is one of the guiding elements of Conscious Eating.

    This is where you will find the gentle strength of discernment.

    With experience and practice, you will know when a craving leads to “I just want it” instead of a thoughtful, centered perspective. You can ask yourself, “Am I using food, exercising, focusing on my weight, counting calories or macros to calm an uncomfortable feeling, or do I just have a craving?” This makes choosing what you want very easy.

    In sum

    The heart of Conscious Eating is a movement toward a better relationship with yourself. You know from your core what is best for you, and freedom from stress eating is a big part of your needs.

    The tug of war no longer exists. Instead, you’ll live your life with increasing peace and clarity.

    Your needs are considered first and foremost, whether caring for your emotions, eating, having quiet time, engaging in a nurturing physical activity, or something even more fulfilling.

    Deepening your relationship with yourself in a new way that brings you happiness happens constantly!

    I hope learning more about Conscious Eating and how it can bring more calm, happiness and peace into your life is helpful to you.

  • How to Unlock Negative Emotions that Trigger Stress Eating

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    Mindless stress or emotional eating.

    You’ve been there – eating when you don’t want to, but the stress needs to go somewhere, and that is when stress or emotional eating starts.

    It’s a distraction that helps to calm your stress with relief, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

    You’re only trying to get away from the negativity. Eating something, especially if it’s a high-carbohydrate snack, works!

    Your brain is bathed in calming, feel-good neurotransmitters that change your brain chemistry. Your brain is taking care of the immediate situation, “I need to calm the tension now.”

    This is the heart of mindless stress eating.

    You start feeling better when you have a pleasurable experience.

    But shame and guilt hit you like a ton of bricks, and now you’re right back to feeling uncomfortable, and the soothing you experienced starts to evaporate.

    What happens next? A lot of clients say it’s something like this:

    You already ate the food, so you –

    • restrict your food intake
    • promise that next time you will resist
    • focus on more willpower


    • you go back down the path of mindlessness, stress, or emotional eating
    • justify your discomfort by telling yourself you might as well enjoy it while you can
    • feel hopeless that you’ll ever be in control of food

    There are a lot of reasons why the stress or emotional eating cycle repeats over and over.

    The reason for the most significant impact is that you feel near immediate relief.

    There are many brain-chemical reasons why people feel a sense of control and relief after eating. Stress or emotional eating relieves uncomfortable feelings regardless of how long the relief lasts.

    The desire to create and maintain a calm state is a powerful drive. When emotional reactivity is high, stress or emotional eating is one of the quickest legal ways to get calm.

    Over the past few decades, the intersection of psychology and neuroscience has shown us that our emotions, how we feel, think, manage, and understand our experiences, are primarily based on learning how to cope and manage different states of being.

    What’s important about this is that we can learn new skills eventually.

    The bottom line is that you can learn how to become a conscious eater after years, decades, or even – of stress, emotional eating, or dieting.

    Mind, body and heart peace.

    When emotions are vague, people generalize them and think in broad brush strokes: “I feel bad or depressed, sad or mad, etc.”

    This is a good start and you can develop a more refined, specific emotional vocabulary to help you even more.

    It’s in our nature to seek to feel as good as possible, so when uncomfortable feelings surface, you probably want to eliminate them as quickly as possible.

    Spending time pondering the subtleties of sadness isn’t something most people tend to do without some highly motivating factor to do it.

    Emotional self-awareness requires you to be specific.

    Becoming a Conscious Eater helps you increase your emotional vocabulary to become more aware of your feelings. When this happens, you have more options for calming and soothing yourself without needing food to do the job for you.

    While I can’t promise that this is an easy task, I can tell you that just like learning anything new, you’ll become more skillful with intentional practice.

    Vague feelings lead to no specific action plan and lead to stress or emotional eating.

    So, why all this talk about the specifics of feelings? Getting specific about the feeling provides you with a broader range of options so you can feel better sooner.

    Here’s an example:

    Say you’re at work and there’s a project you’re leading, the deadline is near and it’s not going well. You’ve racked your brain to devise solutions, but it’s not happening. So, you decide to summon up courage and talk with your boss about it. You want to receive some guidance on how to move forward.

    Bad news: your boss is tense and busy with an emergency. Furthermore, she tells you that she expects you to handle it independently and is confident you’ll figure out what you need to do if you spend more time on it. She wraps up by telling you she has a conference call in 2 minutes and, with a tone, sends the message, Don’t come back with this problem – give me your best work in the morning.’

    Has this ever happened to you?

    I imagine we all have experienced some version of this at least once in life!

    Notice the feelings you might have felt as you read the example.

    Frustration at the inability to get the project done without a fresh perspective.

    Which can lead to anxiety about not knowing and needing to ask for help.

    This can lead to feeling vulnerable that your boss will judge your work performance as poor and that you’re not a valuable employee.

    Your boss’s response can lead to anger.

    You asked for help; she’s your boss, it’s part of her job and she’s not doing it!

    The anger, if left unexplored, can get stuck. You could focus on your boss’s incompetence or dislike of you, plan to set yourself up for failure, etc.

    The mind can go to dark places when we get stuck in fear!

    Even if all this negativity is true—there are difficult bosses out there—you can remain curious about the variety of feelings you experience and then decide if the feelings become problematic.

    The emotionally curious part of you, the part who desires to be more conscious and intentional in life, may have a conversation with yourself like this:

    I made myself vulnerable and asked for help when I needed it. Now I feel dismissed that my work isn’t necessary, maybe even taken to an old familiar feeling – I am unimportant.

    I’m disappointed because I really like my boss and look up to her as a role model and now, my heart is broken a little.

    Maybe she’s not the superwoman I wanted her to be.

    I feel even less able to do my best work and maybe I’m not as invested and excited as I once was. Perhaps I’ll go to lunch early and have my favorite food to console myself.

    But wait, no, maybe the problem she’s dealing with is more urgent now than the project due tomorrow. After all, it is an emergency! I know that she doesn’t have time until the problem is solved.

    She put her faith in me and tried to be encouraging but didn’t have the time or capacity.

    Considering all the feelings I’ve just processed, maybe I can give her what I have, make notes on what needs to be refined, and talk after the problem is resolved and she catches her breath.

    Maybe I can take a deep breath, walk outside, and get fresh air. It’s a nice day and that will help.

    I need to practice patience. Have a nourishing lunch, then get a game plan together so that I’m as prepared as possible at this point in my work.

    When you get more specific about your feelings, you have more options.

    With time and practice, you can get to the heart of the matter more quickly.

    There is a simplicity in directly addressing the nuance of feeling, which helps guide you in caring for the feeling.

    What if part of the problem with emotional eating isn’t the food but not being transparent about the feeling or what to do with it?

    What if you separate the food from the feeling in a way that gives you more information about the feelings and possibilities for taking care of yourself without focusing on food?

    The assumption we’re working with is – you need to fuel your body and fullness-satiety is a need. Nobody can work very well with their feelings if your body needs fuel. Get something to eat and check in with yourself. Nourish your body at the beginning of signs of hunger.

    The two systems – feeling and nourishment – are interrelated; we can’t truly separate them, but we can separate them enough to find clarity. They require different questions and, most often, different answers.

    Let food be food and emotions be emotions.


    How to identify the nuance of feelings and prevent stress or emotional eating.

    Feelings identification process.

    There are three basic emotions that most people start from anxiety, anger, and sadness.

    Suppose you think about the intensity of the emotion, like a little anticipatory anxiety, when you’re in week two of a new job. Just a little, enough to keep you on your toes versus intense anxiety when you’re about to give a pitch to a venture capital team for several million dollars. The intensity of emotion about an unknown situation, like your first day on the job, can be consuming.

    If you lump these experiences into one, as if they are the same, you short-change your relationship with yourself.

    Lots of people do this every day.

    In the attempt to get past difficult emotions, you may dismiss them as if they are nothing, and in return, you miss the possibility of caring for yourself in a significant way.

    How to apply “feelings identification” to decrease stress or emotional eating.

    Depending on your experience with a particular emotion and the intensity you experience of it, you’ll need options. A variety of coping skills to work through the emotional experience helps a lot. You can get to the other side of your emotions faster and that’s what builds emotional awareness.

    Think of this like any new skill you learn. Riding a bike at first is shaky and usually involves losing your balance, falling off, and trying again. With each round of trial and error, you learn more. Your mind and body become experienced in bike riding and you know more about how to stay balanced.

    They are necessary steps that help you learn what not to do so you learn what works – faster.

    If you try a coping skill that doesn’t fit the emotion, meaning it doesn’t help decrease the intensity, it’s okay. Try the next idea – it may be the one that helps! I have a process for you to try to make it easier and hopefully faster.

    The SILK process can be very helpful in getting you the clarity you need.

    SILK – Stop

    Be still and give yourself a few minutes to feel.

    No worries if it’s complicated. This is time-limited, and it will pass in a few minutes.

    You need to allow yourself a couple of minutes to find what you’re working with.

    Silk -Identify

    List your feelings and consider the possibilities. Look up some of the synonyms and add them to your list.

    You may find that the dictionary definition or browse the thesaurus clarifies how you feel.

    Think of it as an exploration to understand what you are responding to. And that’s a clue to what you need for your well-being.

    SILK – Listen

    When you look at the feeling list, you know where and which feeling resonates in your heart.

    Notice what hits you with, “Yeah, that’s it.” The next step is to ask yourself, “What can I do to help me to feel taken care of?”

    What will help you to move through the tricky part and get to the other side where growth resides?

    SILK – Kindness

    Work from a growth mindset perspective.

    This is the place where the Golden Rule of Self-care applies to you.

    Treat yourself well. It may take time to figure out what you need.

    You will make mistakes along the way and that’s okay; you are learning.

    You are getting to know yourself in a different way that leads to good things.

    Getting unstuck is the best reward.

    I hope that you find that developing your emotional vocabulary leads you down the path to Conscious Eating!

    When you solve stress or emotional eating, burnout, feeling overwhelmed and feeling stressed also decrease dramatically. You can use your newly developed self-awareness to take care of your needs. You’ll have the time and energy to pursue what you need and live a fulfilling life you love. And after all – is that what it’s all about?

  • Silk: The Simple Tool to Overcome Stress Eating

    blog title graphic pink modern flower on a beige background that says silk: the simple tool to overcome stress eating

    Conscious Eating is one of the fastest ways to overcome stress eating.

    Conscious Eating gives you the skills to transform your relationship with food and eating so you’re in control.

    When you learn emotional mastery tools, they’re transferable to many challenges in life, not only to overcome stress eating.

    Conscious Eating isn’t a diet. It’s being present and intentional about what you eat, how your body feels and what your mind needs for satisfaction.

    As you make choices for long-term shifts in how you relate to yourself and your body, you’ll also learn to be more patient and compassionate.

    Remember that this is a mindset-transformational shift in your relationship with yourself.

    It’s big and we’ll take it one step at a time.

    Mindset is how you think about things, or your ‘frame of mind’ and how your thoughts shape your actions. It’s more than simply differentiating between a pessimistic (glass half empty) or optimistic (glass half full) point of view.

    Conscious Eating is a mindset change toward mindful growth in thinking, feeling, and relating to yourself.

    This isn’t a ‘think differently and your behavior will change’ approach to stress eating.

    It is working with yourself toward a goal, value, or belief—whatever word fits best for you—and knowing that you can create what you need to achieve your goal and live in harmony with your values.

    A mindset shift considers your entire experience as a person making change, mind, body and heart so you can overcome stress eating for good!

    Becoming a Conscious Eater is learning to reshape how you care for yourself.

    Conscious Eating is forward-thinking and growth-enhancing. You are learning to do things differently. Learn how to stop, listen, identify, and live with compassion and kindness!

    The most time-consuming part of change is when you’re preparing to make a change but are not quite ready yet.

    Small changes, bit by bit, adjusting to the newness, and continuing to move forward are effective. You are being mindful of what’s working and what’s not and then making adjustments. Use the experience, both good and challenging, to help you know which way to go.

    When you can use your time to learn about what you want, it is worth investing your time and energy.

    The good news is that when you stop, identify your needs, and listen to yourself with kindness and compassion, you are much further along in overcoming stress, eating for good.

    4 Conscious Eating skills to overcome stress eating.

    SILK is an easy way to remember this process: Stop, Identify, Listen, and do all this with kindness in your heart. Here’s the framework for it to happen –

    SILK – Stop

    Being consumed with food, telling yourself that you will be ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ or you’ll eat clean, only takes you further away from your goal. It puts so much responsibility into manipulating food that it’s challenging to focus on your goals and values.

    This surface-level attention keeps the focus on food rather than your relationship with it. It’s manipulating the food to have a better relationship with yourself.

    This feeds the problem.

    The way out is to risk shifting your focus to your relationship with yourself and away from the food.

    When you stop, you give yourself the space to consider other options when you overcome stress eating.

    The opportunity you open yourself to is growth. This is where a shift in mindset takes hold for your well-being – when you give yourself time and space to make conscious choices.

    Are the food rules you live with something like this; ‘I can’t eat ______, ______is bad, ______ leads to ______ health issue, etc.?

    Have you repeated some version of this statement to yourself so often that you accept it as fact? If you eat one of the forbidden foods, do you experience shame and guilt?

    Your challenge is to ask yourself if you are physically hungry and if so, what is my body asking me for right now?

    The next question to ask yourself is – what do I emotionally need right now?

    It may be that you don’t need food at all. You may need sleep, rest, friendship, love, space, quiet, movement, etc.

    And finally, ask yourself what you need for your mind, body, and heart to feel content.

    You might not be very confident in your answers at the beginning. That’s OK!

    Remember, this is moving away from someone else’s ideals and toward your self-knowledge for your unique relationship with yourself.

    SILK – Identify

    One of the first questions I ask the people I work with is your needs. I would guess that 99 percent of the time, they know that I’m not asking about food and shelter or even to change their body or behaviors in some way.

    I know this because, more often than not, they will look me in the eye and tears will well up with the knowledge that something is missing.

    A deep longing for growth has stalled in the quest for a different body as if that’s a guarantee of happiness.

    When you stop, take a breath, and allow yourself to look at your life and know that it’s not totally about your body, you have a realistic opportunity to overcome stress eating.

    One of the most convenient times to do this is while eating.

    Do only one thing while eating.

    It is tough to stress eating if eating is your only mindless activity.

    Practice being in the present moment and notice where your mind leads you.

    Sitting with yourself while eating takes practice, especially when Eating is your way of escaping discomfort.

    If you’re reading a book, watching TV, or working, it is nearly impossible to feel your emotions, hunger or fullness cues, or identify what you truly need.

    Your attention is soaked up by the action in the story or the problem being solved.

    You’re not in the present; you’re on autopilot.

    As you become more comfortable identifying what you need, you will also get clear on which foods you enjoy, how your body responds and what works best for you.

    SILK – Listen

    Growth requires intentional change and the way to get there is to increase your awareness of your negative self-talk and the thoughts and feelings you experience; outwardly silent, yet inwardly booming, crashing like a giant wave on your hope, motivation, and faith in yourself.

    This means leaving negative self-talk, criticism and blame out of the equation.

    The fight is over, a truce is called and the peace talks are happening.

    The peace process is a little more complicated and takes more patience and you can do it.

    Little by little, with consistent intention toward growth, negative thinking eases up, allowing room for growth.

    Remember, this is a shift in the way you live your life. It is worth the effort to overcome stress eating.

    We live in a time where our bodies are fair game for judgment, objectification, shaming and attempts to live up to someone else’s expectations.

    You may be waiting for whatever obstacle—real or imagined—to disappear. Removing the obstacle means acknowledging it and building a strategy that works for your life.

    Ask yourself –

    • do I want to participate in this type of conversation with myself?
    • What might I hear instead of all the negativity if I’m listening with my core values?

    A growth mindset is assessing what needs to change, working toward the goal and making prudent adjustments.

    Listening means moving away from controlling and toward acceptance.

    Sometimes acceptance is confused with: ‘This is who you are; it’s not going to change, so just get over it.’ I’m glad that this is wrong in this context!

    Acceptance is looking and listening so that your relationship with yourself can grow – mind, body and heart!

    If you desire change, it is possible through healing, respect and kindness.

    Accepting who you are today frees you to use the energy spent criticizing yourself more flexibly.

    Listen for all the good you can do and all the happiness you can experience.

    SILK – Kindness

    Looking clearly, listening honestly, and stopping to pay attention all give perspective and motivation so that you can make adjustments and keep growing.

    Conscious Eating is about curiosity, flexibility, and a willingness to make mistakes so you can grow from them.

    Popular diet and eating plans are overwhelmingly all about the quick fix and won’t help you overcome stress eating.

    They require you to abandon values and good judgment about your nutrition and focus exclusively on changing your body.

    The assumption is that a different body is the key to happiness in your life.

    This devalues your humanity.

    Dieting is not about health; it is about an illusion of control. An illusion that you’ll have the life you want if you follow the diet. If it worked, it would work!

    You can shut off your feelings and ignore them for only so long. They’ll overflow and come rushing back with the onslaught of stress eating and feeling poorly about yourself.

    The truth is that Conscious Eating is about learning life-long skills for your health.

    Many of the skills will help in other areas as well. SILK enables you to use your self-knowledge to live a happy and fulfilling life.

    The big picture view of your life.

    Kindness and compassion provide an excellent foundation for living your life in harmony.

    Mistakes allow you to make more informed choices the next time, so you can overcome stress eating.

    When you become a Conscious Eater, you can trust your decisions because they are grounded in your self-knowledge and values.

    The choice is freely made.

    Remember, SILK: Stop, Identify, Listen, and Kindness. The path will always lead you back to you!

  • How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Good

    blog title graphic white modern flower on a beige background that says, how to transform your relationship with food fo good

    Your relationship with food…

    Being present and increasing awareness of your emotional life is essential for personal fulfillment. Without it, experiencing a lasting change in your relationship with food, stress eating and your body isn’t likely.

    Nutrition and exercise are essential, but without a shift in your emotional awareness, you’ll be right back at the start sooner than the current diet fad ends.

    Be present.

    Tomorrow is tomorrow. Future cares have future cures. And we must mind today.


    Being present is assessing where you are now and includes both the positive, fulfilling parts of yourself that you like and the draining aspects of your life that you need to either limit or use as an opportunity for growth or both.

    The only thing you need to do is be here today. When you’re present, you make moment-to-moment choices that significantly change your relationship with food.

    Think about today and what you need right now. Shift your focus away from immediate gratification and get closer to the core of what your heart desires most. Sometimes, asking yourself a question helps – do I want to eat the chocolate bar, or am I looking for a break from stress? It’s easy to grab the chocolate bar that tastes delicious and results in your brain being flooded with feel-good brain chemicals. The challenge is focusing on what you need for your well-being and your relationship with food.

    Most people who struggle with emotional or stress eating, body image, and chronic dieting develop an automatic reaction to food. What’s important to remember is that this is a brain-based behavior that can change. What it is not is a lack of willpower or mental toughness. It’s a learned behavior and you can learn different behaviors that align with what you want in your life.

    If you want to get off the diet merry-go-round of chronic stress eating, an effective strategy is allowing yourself to accept the challenge of being present right now. You can learn to become a mindful and conscious eater and change your relationship with food.

    Follow your guidelines.

    He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.

    Niccolo Machiavelli

    When thinking about your future self, are you in command of your present self?

    The only way to ‘obey’ yourself is to listen to your wisdom and ‘command’ your body with the clarity, kindness, and compassion you need to move forward. Listen to your good advice; it’s how to change your relationship with food.

    A plan based on your unique needs and clarity about what needs to change is a good starting point for lasting change.

    You can make clear choices when you’re present and have guidelines that work best for you. You can identify what you need and incorporate it into your everyday life. What you’ll build is confidence that you’re on the path of greater self-awareness and fulfillment. Stress eating doesn’t have a chance!

    You will get to where things make sense and the difficulties you experience from living with another person’s guidelines, for their food relationship is impossible. You must listen to your mind, body and heart and do what’s right for you.

    It’s easier to notice opportunities when focused on what’s working rather than struggling with what doesn’t.

    You can see things clearly, and your path forward is less complicated than your relationship with food.

    Even when the path is unpredictable, when clarity is your guide, you can adjust and stay on course.

    Practice more of what works and stop doing what holds you back.

    Don’t skip the messy middle.

    Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. It is all we ever have so we might as well work with it rather than struggling against it. We might as well make it our friend and teacher rather than our enemy.

    Pema Chödrön

    When thinking about your relationship with food, it’s easy to get lured into focusing on the result, like you need to –

    • stop stress eating
    • stop criticizing your body
    • feel more comfortable

    Looking at someone else’s plan is natural when stressed out and desperate for change. A lot of the time, it’s excellent not to reinvent the wheel. But when new clients start coaching with me and follow someone else’s plan, they usually get stuck and overfocus on the result rather than on one choice at a time.

    When you skip over the middle part of the change, you lose all the needed learning. The middle part of the process is where your hard work creates the change.

    Step-by-step small changes are what create transformation. The middle part isn’t something that can be skipped over – it’s essential.

    This phase is rich with opportunities for self-knowledge to achieve fulfillment in your life. The middle is the ‘how to change’ part of changing your relationship with food. The best part is that you can use the process as a guide whenever needed.


    Even as we live with the knowledge that each day might be our last, we don’t want to believe it.

    Sharon Salzberg

    Acceptance lays the foundation for everything you want to achieve.

    Look at yourself clearly as you are.

    It’s difficult your experience of living in the body you have isn’t pleasant, yet it’s essential. As you grow in acceptance, sprinkle in many positive thoughts and feelings. Positive thoughts tend to multiply and nourish your desire for change.

    When you build your future by accepting where you are right now while focusing on gaining more self-knowledge, you’re well on your way to getting your needs met and changing your relationship with food.

    Transformation cannot be built on someone else’s truths for their life.

    Transformation can only occur as you know who you are and where you’re going.


    Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced.

    John Keats

    Getting where you’re going is faster with clarity.

    Clarity helps you identify what you need to do right now that aligns with your goals.

    With clarity, wishing and hoping for change melts into doing only what you need to do to get to where you want to be.

    Clarity allows you to take a deep breath. When you exhale, the weight of expectations and the pressure to conform to other’s expectations lift.

    You can finally say, “Ahhhhhh,” and feel at peace that your relationship with yourself, while not perfect, is progressing.

    The way to make your plan work is to work on the fundamentals. Be present, follow guidelines that work for you, start from where you are today and accept yourself with clarity. This is a foundation for building a new relationship with food and your body.

    Enjoy food and feel good about it.