Stress Eating

  • 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 the way you relate to yourself and your body, you’ll also learn how to be more patient and compassionate too.

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

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

    Mindset is the way you think about things, or your ‘frame of mind’ and the way in which 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 how you think, feel and relate 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 or 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 is takes into account your full experience as a person in 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. Learning how to stop, listen, identify and live with compassion and kindness for you!

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

    Small changes over time, bit by bit, adjusting to the newness, and continuing to move forward is effective.  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’re able to use your time to learn about what you want it is worth the investment of 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 the process to overcome stress eating for good.

    4 Conscious Eating skills to overcome stress eating.

    An easy way to remember this process is SILK; Stop, Identify, Listen, and do all of 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 in manipulating food that it’s difficult 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 in an attempt to have a better relationship with yourself.

    This feeds the problem.

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

    When you stop, you give yourself the space to consider other options that 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 many times that you accept them 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 do I need for you 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 a process of moving away from someone else’s ideals and moving toward your own self-knowledge for your unique relationship with yourself.

    SILK – Identify

    One of the first questions I ask the people I work with is, what are 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 there is something missing.

    There is a deep longing for growth that 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 clearly look at your life and know that it’s not totally about your body then 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 extremely difficult to mindlessly stress eat if eating is your only activity.

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

    It takes practice to sit with yourself while eating, 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 in life.

    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 with 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, 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 go away. The way to remove the obstacle is to acknowledge it and build a strategy that works for your life.

    Ask yourself –

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

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

    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 totally, absolutely 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 criticising yourself, in more productive ways.

    Listen for all of the good you can do and all of 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 accompanying onslaught of stress eating and feeling badly 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 helps you 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 give you the opportunity to make more informed choices so 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.

    Choice is freely made.

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

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  • How to Transform Your Relationship with Food for Good

    Your relationship with food…

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

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

    Being present

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


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

    This only thing you need to do is be here today. When you’re present you make moment to moment choices that all add up to big changes in 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 really 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 to focus on what you really need for your well-being and your relationship with food.

    Most people who struggle with emotional or stress eating, body image, chronic dieting, developed an automatic reaction to food. What’s important to remember is that this is a brain-based behavior and it 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 are more in alignment 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 how to become a mindful and conscious eater and change your relationship with food.

    Follow your own guidelines

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

    Niccolo Machiavelli

    Are you in command of your present self when you’re thinking about your future self?

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

    When you’re present and have guidelines in place that work best for you, then you can make choices with clarity. 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 a place where things make sense and the difficulties you experience from living with another person’s guidelines, for their food relationship is impossible. You need to listen to your mind, body and heart and do what’s right for you.

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

    You’re able to see things clearly as they are and your path forward, to is less a complicated 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 end result, like you need to –

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

    When you’re feeling stressed out and desperate for change, it’s natural to look at someone else’s plan. A lot of the time it’s great to not reinvent the wheel. But when a new client starts coaching with me and they’ve followed someone else’s plan they usually get stuck overfocusing on the end result.

    When you skip over the middle part of change, you lose all of the stuff you need to learn. The middle part of the process is where your hard work creates the change.

    Step-by-step small changes is what creates 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 the process of changing your relationship with food. The best part is that you can use the process as a guide whenever you need it.


    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 make sure you sprinkle in a lot of the positive thoughts and feelings. Positive thoughts have the tendency 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 get to 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 is in alignment with your goals.

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

    Clarity gives you the opportunity to take a deep breath. When you exhale feel 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, it’s 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 you can build a new relationship with food and your body.

    Enjoy food and feel good about it.

  • The Truth About Stress Eating: Imperfection is Part of the Journey

    There really are only 5 things you need to do to stop stress eating.

    It might sound too easy, but the 5 steps take time and patience – there are no shortcuts and perfectionism only slow your progress. If you can commit to the belief that life can be less stressful and even harmonious you can learn the 5 steps and stop stress eating.

    The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

    Mother Teresa

    When you get so tired of doing the same thing over and over again that you just can’t do it one more time, you’re in the perfect place to change the situation.

    You know stress eating is more than calming anxiety. There’s something more – you need to live your life with peace, fulfillment and health.

    If you take the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a conscious eater. The time and energy you spent planning, eating, worrying about what you ate, regretting you gave into the habit again, doesn’t happen and that’s one of the best freedoms of all.

    When you pay attention to your body’s needs it becomes a pathway for a better relationship with yourself. You get to know more about your real needs and experiment with how best to meet them.

    You get to know your limitations and the possibilities for taking care of yourself in a way you feel good about. Most of all you get to learn about what you need to take better care of yourself.

    When you take the steps below, you’ll be well on your way to stop stress eating. 

    1. Eat when you’re hungry

    Courage is a kind of salvation. 


    I know, this sounds like a total oversimplification, but how many times do you deny yourself food?

    It could be that you ignore your hunger or that you don’t allow yourself to eat certain foods or both.

    If your body needs energy, there is just no replacing food. You can distract yourself and delay eating for only so long before hangry sets in.

    Your hunger signals may go quiet, for a while, but you can be sure that they will come back and you won’t be able to ignore them!

    Eat a balanced meal. It’s great if the craving is for a balanced meal or snack since you’re taking care of both needs at once!

    Which leads to…

    Enjoy your food.

    Choose what you eat wisely so that you’re getting both the physical nourishment your body needs and the satisfaction your mind and heart need too. Take care of your whole person. Without enjoyment there won’t be satisfaction, which can lead to stress eating later.

    Sometimes you will eat purely for fuel. We all lead busy lives and sometimes 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, most of the time, you will be left wanting, unsatisfied.

    At least once a day, eat for fuel as well as for the experience of pleasure.

    2. Be present

    The point of power is always in the present moment.

    Louise L. Hay

    Do just one thing while eating.

    When you’re driving, watching a show, working on the computer, playing a game on your phone, reading, etc. you’re unable to really be aware of what you’re eating, if you enjoy it, if you’re hungry for food, when you’ve had enough – there are a lot of decisions!

    Distraction is one way of disconnecting from stress eating and the feelings of guilt or shame about what you’re eating, how you’re eating it, how you feel about your body and yourself.

    Distracted eating is a statement about your relationship with yourself. The way to step is through self-compassion and honoring your need and desire for nourishment and stop stress eating.

    Mindful eating is one tool you can use to pay attention in the moment to the taste, texture, aroma, colors, etc. of the food you’re eating.

    When you eat mindfully, you can make assessments about your relationship with food and how you respect your body.

    3. Identify your feelings

    The best way out is always through.

    Robert Frost

    Calm anxiety before eating, rather than eating to calm anxiety. Easier said than done, right?

    This can be tricky since hunger makes anxiety worse. Anxiety can also be one of the early signs of hunger. It gets complicated very quickly!

    Our ancestors needed to be on the lookout for food, they might have been a little edgy about it, so when it was available, they would find it and eat. Although food is abundant, when hunger is ignored this early survival mechanism kicks in and you may become a little edgy too.

    Help yourself to slow down. Do your best anxiety-reducing techniques, a few deep breaths, a little calming yoga, a short mindfulness meditation, 2–5 minutes or so, and then eat a balanced meal or snack. The food will wait.

    Anxiety or worry is one of the most frequent feelings that leads to stress eating. 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 feeling, pinpoint its cause as best you can and take one simple step toward your future free from stress eating.

    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.

    Increase your awareness of the feelings you experience most often. Emotional awareness is your own personal guide to stop stress eating and prevent it from happening too.

    When you know what’s going on inside, you have options for better self-care.

    Stress eating is no longer a distraction from what’s really bothering you, you know and you have a choice in how you manage yourself.

    4. Leave morality out of your food choices

    Having a healthy relationship with food means you are not morally superior or inferior based on your eating choices.

    Evelyn Tribole

    Food is not sinful! How many foods are described as sinfully delicious?

    How many times have you heard, usually at dessert time, “we’re being so bad tonight?”

    What if we accepted that our bodies enjoy pleasurable experiences like eating good food?

    Acceptance in the fullest sense means honoring your desire for pleasurable experiences with food, non-judgmentally.

    When you accept that you’re an eater who enjoys eating you’ll also accept that at times you need fuel. You can accept when fuel is primary and enjoyment second since you can trust yourself that there are times when you’ll eat purely for pleasure too.

    Eating for fuel only.

    You have a big meeting at two o’clock and it’s important to have a balanced lunch at noon, so you’re fueled, thinking clearly and on your game. Your priority is reviewing your notes and getting fuel. That’s okay some of the time.

    Eating just for pleasure.

    Think about birthday cake or special foods you only have at holiday celebrations. These foods and the ritual of eating them symbolize the importance of the moment, your family traditions and culture.

    Foods have different nutritional value, not different moral value. Eat well and enjoy.

    5. Seek connection instead of stress eating

    Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow. It’s a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them — we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

    Brene Brown

    Stress eating can be the motivator for reconnecting with someone, a memory, thought or feeling.

    If you’re craving a specific food, ask yourself, is it the memory or person you want to connect with? 

    Is the food a way to make it happen or would you get your needs met by a conversation, planning a visit, making dinner plans with a friend or family member?

    Stress eating is the pathway to the relationship you want to experience. The problem is that the stress eating can’t help you connect in the way you want or need to connect either with others or yourself.

    Increasing your awareness of stress eating and the feelings that led you there is the way to move toward what you need. Awareness can help you refocus from the food obsession to the relationship and you can get your needs met.

    These five actions will move you so much further down the road to what you want, so that you can stop stress eating than any diet ever could. You have the answers you need right inside you. My hope is that the tools above will help you discover them!

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  • How to Stop Weighing Yourself and Feel Good Anyway

    Weighing yourself is one of the worst ways to feel good about yourself or get a handle on stress eating.

    If you ever stress eat weighing yourself usually leads to negative thoughts or opinions that prevent you from feeling good about your body, boundaries and confidence.

    This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known.

    Marion Woodman

    The facts about daily weighing yourself and stress eating.

    A study in 2015 tracked participants over 10 years and showed that self-weighing is associated with increased weight concerns and depression. The study also showed a decrease in body satisfaction and self-esteem over those 10 years, especially for the women in the study.

    If you stress eat, weighing yourself can be one of the most effective ways to feel really bad about yourself.

    Daily weighing can lead to increased stress eating rather than actually decreasing it.

    Ironically a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ scale number can both trigger overeating—whether it’s a congratulatory eating party or a consolation party.

    Evelyn Tribole

    A lot of people find the external verification of daily weighing helpful in some respects. Some research has shown that it can be helpful. Daily weighing with email support was helpful in weight loss in this study. Another study by the same group in 2014, showed no ill psychological effects of daily weighing

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I love data. I like to see the data for lots of things especially when making decisions. It helps me to understand if the assumptions about a particular thing are actually true.

    In terms of health behaviors, it helps to find out if what people say they do matches up with what they actually do. This gives me a better idea of how to be helpful to my clients.

    But, when the data is “bad” – it’s not accurate or misleading, it doesn’t help with anything. In fact, this type of information can have very serious consequences.  One piece of “bad” data is the importance we give to the number on scale. It only gives you information about mass. What it can’t do is give you information on the health of your body systems like heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar, bone density, etc.

    And yet, so many thoughts and feelings are assumed, usually negatively, from this one piece of data that you have in your control – weighing yourself.

    If you stress eat, the scale is not your friend!

    There’s no real reason to weigh yourself at home. It can’t tell you anything about the nutrient density of the food you eat and the effects of what you eat on your body.  And it certainly doesn’t tell you anything positive about your relationship with your body especially – instead it usually creates more stress!

    Yet, these are all things that you might unconsciously hope that it would do.

    If the scale is down, you feel great about yourself. But when it’s up and especially if it’s a big number, your mood plummets, your motivation for self-care fades and self-compassion is nowhere in sight.

    If you break the habit of weighing yourself you can become more engaged in a relationship with your body where you work together rather than rule over your body.

    You will have the opportunity to get to know yourself in different ways like…

    • What kind of movement energizes you.
    • What kind of movement you enjoy.
    • What type of food gives you the energy you need.
    • What type of food feels good in your body.
    • What type of attitude or thought process moves you toward your goals.
    • What type of conversations you find fulfilling.

    The list goes on and on. Mainly, when you are aware of your internal needs, hopes and desires you gain the ability to actually get what you want in life.  And this has nothing to do with the weighing yourself!

    People always ask me, ‘You have so much confidence. Where did that come from?’ It came from me. One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl … It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you. What matters is what you see. Your body is your temple, it’s your home, and you must decorate it.

    Gabourey Sidibe

    Move away from external validation and toward internal validation

    If you want a better relationship with yourself you will need to shift from external validation – waiting for other’s approval to feel good. Instead, internal validation is trusting yourself to do what you need for your own well-being and acknowledging the benefits you receive in the process. This is the way out of stress eating, negative body image and low self-esteem.

    How is feedback different from external validation?

    External information is helpful in some situations. Say, when your boss gives you feedback on a presentation. You need to know what worked, what didn’t work, if you said too many “um’s,” if you covered all the required material, etc.

    It’s also helpful to get feedback from a loved one or good friend about the outfit you plan to wear for the presentation. Does it fit the tone of the presentation, the audience, the lighting/stage, etc. It’s helpful to get a double check and when you value the others perspective about a specific situation.

    The stereotypical question, “do I look fat in this” is usually about so much more than appearance. Do you accept me regardless of any judgements I might have about my size or are you judging me too?

    Since the question is usually isn’t about appearance, if talked about how you feel would it be more helpful to you?

    • I’m nervous about meeting new people at the party.
    • I’m not comfortable in this outfit.
    • I don’t want to give this presentation.
    • I need reassurance/encouragement that it will be okay.

    Becoming more connected with what you’re feeling and experiencing helps you live a more authenticity and guide you in the direction you want your life to go.

    3 Questions to ask yourself before getting on the scale.

    What do you want to receive from the scale?

    If you really need the data from the scale for medication or some other medical reason, then is it possible to let go of weighing yourself at home and only weigh yourself at your doctor’s office?

    Can you relieve yourself from this stress?

    If there isn’t a medical reason to weigh yourself outside the doctor’s office, what do you think the scale will tell you?

    That you’re:

    • healthy
    • a good person
    • attractive
    • in control
    • out of control

    Maybe you have other ways to assess how you’re doing. One of them is to pay closer attention to how you feel in your body. If you start or regularly engage in physical activity, can you use increased skill level, speed, distance/duration, feeling more fit/comfortable for feedback instead of weighing yourself?

    Maybe this shift in mindset gives you the opportunity to have a positive conversation with yourself. Part of getting out of stress eating is bringing your emotions more fully into your awareness so you can use them to support yourself. This is something that you can’t get from weighing yourself.

    When you have a clear picture of your life, it’s really challenging to feel totally bad about yourself. There’s a point where it takes more effort to feel bad than good. For many of my clients when they try it the effort becomes so ludicrous that they realize what’s happening, smile and remind themselves that they don’t need that anymore! They’re further down the road of growth than they knew.

    Why do you own a scale?

    Most people say that they need it, “to check my weight.” But, if you gained or lost weight would you know by the way your clothes fit? Remember, the scale can only measure mass and nothing else.

    Is there something more meaningful to you? Could you receive validation from work – a job well done, volunteering – giving back to the community, faith – connection with your values, friendship – being present, etc. Do these areas give you a better sense of who you are as a human being?

    Are there other ways to “measure” or assess if you’re getting what you need?

    Your needs cannot be quantified by data and weighing yourself – that’s all it is!

    It’s fairly impossible to say, “I only need 20 percent of love today” or “right now I need 100 percent compassion.” By living an intentional life and developing your well-being skills you’ll find that, after a difficult day self-compassion gives you so much more comfort than getting on the scale or stress eating does.

    Self-compassion helps you to understand where you are, what you need and the confidence to move forward.

    My second to the last question – how much does the scale pull you out of living an intentional life and drops you back into a disconnected relationship with yourself where stress eating is the norm? It’s a big question.

    What I know is that a healthy relationship with yourself and with those in your life can be a nest of love and in the end isn’t that one of things you truly want?

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    Stress Resilience Map

    It's your magic wand for stress!

  • How to Have a Better Relationship with Food

    A better relationship with food comes from setting kind food limits.

    So, what is a kind food limit? It is a limit that supports you, opens up growth opportunities that you want in your life and ultimately leads to greater well-being.

    A kind food limit takes into account what you desire for taste and pleasure and what your body needs to work well and feel good.

    It also accounts how you feel when you eat a particular food (physically, mentally and emotionally). It also helps you check your energy need right now and in the near future so you have the fuel you need.

    The big picture of kind food limits is that they help you to make food choices that you feel good about, so you can stop stress eating for good.

    That’s to say, you feel good in a well-rounded sense. You feel satisfied so you can focus on what’s happening in your life rather than thinking about food. Satisfaction is important because if you don’t enjoy what you’re eating or you’ll feel like there’s something missing.  And that’s the perfect setup for mindless stress eating that leaves you feeling unsatisfied and disappointed with yourself.

    Kind food limits are mostly positive, meaning that they move you toward something you need or desire.

    Some examples are:

    • Planning a meal at a favorite restaurant
    • Enjoying a meal with a friend
    • Looking forward to favorite comfort meal or dessert

    It could also be a little less glamorous and commit to a meal simply because you know your body needs it to feel better.

    You also need the nutrition to fuel your body considering what you’ve got going on for the rest of the day. You might drink a glass of milk with lunch rather than soda, because that’s what you need today. Tomorrow you may have different needs.

    Think about when you come home from vacation or after the holidays, sometimes you might need to eat more of the food you missed in the previous days or weeks. Or you might need to reset kind food limits, especially after enjoying traditional feasting foods around holidays. Eating isn’t perfect and there isn’t a need for judgement either. Life happens in cycles and kind food limits support you regardless of the cycle you’re in at the moment.

    For me, eating more traditional desserts around holidays is part of the way I connect with my culture. I eat those traditional foods in a concentrated way because they are time consuming to make, they are part of meals with family and friends and they are a connection with my ancestors.

    If I lived in Italy, I would have a different experience. I know I would enjoy those foods more frequently, but less of them, with a great cup of coffee and interesting conversation sitting outside in the sunshine. But right now, I’m in the states and it’s a very different vibe!

    If you’re like most of us and busy during work hours it’s often a grab what’s available situation – it’s easy, quiets your hunger, but ultimately most of the time not what you really want to eat. Sometimes this is just the way it goes, but when every day is a grab and go type of day it can become nearly impossible to set kind food limits.

    Well-balanced meals – most of the time – support you in a variety of different ways.

    After eating a well-balanced meal you’ll probably feel:

    • emotionally more aware
    • focused on your task
    • thinking more clearly
    • resting more deeply
    • managing feelings more accurately and peacefully

    Kind food limits also help you stop mindless eating and stress eating sooner than you expected.

    Reaching for the candy bowl on your coworker’s desk, just because it’s there can become a habit. In fact, you might even find that you walk by the coworker’s desk when you want a piece of candy!

    The feel-good part of your brain excitedly lights up at thought of candy and then the sight of it can starts the cascade of relief before you’ve even taken a bite.

    But, eating candy right before you have a big chunk of work to get done and a deadline to meet isn’t always a good idea.

    Give yourself a moment to consider the outcome you desire and make a decision based on what you want.

    Making a choice at this moment means saying, “not right now.” It doesn’t mean banishing candy, after all, candy is made for pure enjoyment. Eating for enjoyment is part of normal eating. Kind food limits are about kindness and care – of yourself and for your own long-term well-being.

    Setting kind food limits is a very achievable goal! A kind food limit helps you be more aware of your needs.  What your brain needs for fulfillment, your mind needs for satisfaction and your body needs for energy.

    Here are three practical steps you can take to set kind food limits:

    1. Identify what you’re really hungry for and/or if you’re even hungry at all.

    Slow down, rather than reaching for what’s immediately available. It may take some planning and time to get what you want and need. You’re worth the wait!

    2. Notice food rules like, “If I have this pie, I’ll need to work out x number of hours!”

    Listening to yourself requires that you become quiet and still for a moment as you learn about your needs and make decisions based on kind food limits.

    3. Eat until you’re satisfied.

    Eating to satisfaction usually happens when you eat a well-balanced meal with protein, carbs and fat. Use your body as your guide and trust the feedback you receive for what works for you. When you thrive it’s easier on your system and your body feels better.

    Being quiet so you can hear the feedback your body gives you is the pathway to develop kind food limits.

    Get to know what supports your well-being and what you like – it’s a winning combination that benefits you for years to come!

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  • 5 Reasons Why Eating in Moderation is So Complicated

    You’ve probably heard that eating in moderation is easy and if you do you can eat anything!

    For someone who doesn’t stress eat or emotionally eat it’s an easy thing to say. But, if you’re trapped in the cycle of stress eating or emotional eating, dieting and back to emotional eating again it’s eating in moderation requires a few new skills.

    Eating in moderation is a great foundation for getting a wide variety of foods in your diet.

    Feeling good about what you eat, getting enough energy and just plain freedom from the dieting too.

    To get to the place where you can listen and get what you need it’s important to clear your path of distractions.

    Here are five things that hold you back from eating in moderation and what you can do about it.

    1. Focusing too much on the details.

    When you spend time focusing on the nutrition facts, what’s the healthiest way to eat, what’s the best plan for you or any number of other details, you can lose sight of the big picture. I’m not saying the details aren’t important at all or that gaining knowledge isn’t helpful, it’s when it takes up more time than is needs to take up. How you’ll know that it’s too much is when it seems to take on more importance than your experience of nurturing yourself.

    Focusing on the details too much also leads to silencing your ability to listen to the feedback your mind and body are giving you about what you need. When you aren’t listening to your body, it can lead to overeating. When you’re disconnected from yourself it’s very difficult to hear the subtle cues about what you need.

    Eat in Moderation Solution:

    Focus on covering the basics nutritionally while you loosen up the food rules. Slowly changing over time is usually more sustainable than one big overhaul.

    If you have health issues that require you to pay attention to carbs, fat or sodium in your meals take good care of your health and pay attention. You can identify where and/or when you shift from awareness and self-care over to worry and obsession.

    The change might be more about how you think, like a shift from food rules to guidelines for your long-term health and wellbeing.

    Shift your mindset to think about rules as guidelines for nurturing your body. As you shift into this way of thinking you will naturally have less stress about food. In the beginning, like any new habit, it might feel strange.

    Sometimes people feel like they will be out of control and overeat not knowing when to stop. Eating in moderation is next to impossible if you experience this fear. But when you take it slowly, step by step, it will help you transition out of worry and into the driver’s seat.

    The guidelines for good nutrition are there to support your decision making from the inside out. Take in the info, thoughtfully consider how you can apply it to your lifestyle and nutritional needs, all the while taking into consideration any medical requirements.

    If you’re able to relieve yourself of the stress about the food rules you may have the capacity to eat more moderately and consciously.

    2.  You’re stuck in the diet mentality.

    The diet mentality is when you follow a diet plan that promises to solve your weight, body image or food problems in a distinct, often quick and nearly painless way. Eating in moderation isn’t on the menu. The underlying promise is if you only follow a certain set of food rules, you’ll be happy.

    What lures most people in is the certainty and simplicity:

    • There are foods on the “OK to eat list” and others on a “don’t touch” list.
    • Restrict yourself to a certain number of calories a day and this will be your result.
    • Strict boundaries – eat at this time, this amount of this food.

    These plans are so popular because it’s enticing to get a set of directions that clearly direct you to take certain action – no thinking required.

    The common belief is that your body will not cooperate with you. So, you find yourself trying to manipulate the food in some way. Most of the time, this type of relationship is based on the belief that you cannot trust your body to give you good information on what you need.

    But you can develop a trusting relationship with yourself and make food decisions that meet your nutritional needs. You can also meet your needs for enjoyment and pleasure, so you feel satisfied with a meal.

    Eat in Moderation Solution:

    This situation calls for a mindset shift from viewing your body as separate from yourself, as if it’s a thing that you can easily shape and form at your will.

    The mindset that gets you out of the diet mentality is to develop a relationship with your body where you are treating it with kindness, compassion and respect.

    It’s difficult to overeat when you are you are kind and respectful to yourself. As you leave the diet mentality and eat in a way that respects your hunger and fullness, your awareness increases and your body naturally communicates with you. Eating in moderation is possible because you listen to when your body tells you it’s had enough.  And kindness and respect give you the ability to peacefully stop eating.

    3. Doing more than one thing while eating.

    If you’re like most people, you probably eat while multitasking at least a few times a week.

    You have a big deadline and need to quickly grab lunch while sitting in front of the computer.

    It’s easy to get to the bottom of the bag before you realize you’ve eaten all of the chips when you’re watching your favorite show.

    When you’re distracted paying attention to what you’re eating takes second place.

    It’s hard to know when you’ve had enough food to satisfy your physical hunger and the need for satisfaction, when you’re distracted. The feeling that the meal is complete and you’ve had enough isn’t a strong feeling when you’re doing something else. The warning to stop only comes when you can’t ignore the uncomfortable fullness.

    Eat in Moderation Solution:

    Doing one thing at a time can actually save you time. If you typically turn on the tv or switch to your favorite app or email while eating it’s easy to get drawn into whatever you’re watching.  The minutes pass by, just a bit more and before you know it, an extra 15, 30, 45, 60 minutes have passed and you’re still unconsciously eating.

    Doing one thing can also help you to eat more slowly, identify fullness and satiety sooner and possibly eat less.

    Doing one thing helps you perceive the cue that you’re full sooner than feeling uncomfortably full because you’re paying attention to yourself.

    4. Viewing what you eat as a moral issue.

    When you put food in the category of good vs. bad and assign a moral value to it, you’re going to get stuck.

    Foods have different nutritional values of course.

    I like to use the analogy of a serving of broccoli vs. a candy bar. Yes, they are very different from a nutritional perspective, but morally? You’re not a “bad” person if you eat candy nor are you a good person if you eat broccoli.

    Your body will have different responses and you may feel differently eating one vs. the other, but you have not gained or lost your, “I’m a good person” status.

    It’s just food and both have a legitimate role to play in nurturing yourself.

    Eating in Moderation Solution:

    Think about food from this perspective:

    • What do I want to eat (taste perspective)?
    • What type of nutrition do I need given my activities in the next 4 hours (fuel perspective)?
    • Which foods will meet my need to feeling good (satiety)?

    When you ask yourself these questions you are helping your body and your mind as well as your self-esteem. You can make decisions based on the fullness of what’s important to you.

    5. Not giving yourself permission to enjoy the food you eat.

    Follows from #4 above. Food is fuel and it’s a lot more too.

    Food is one of the great pleasures in life. When you acknowledge that it’s okay to enjoy eating you are closer to freedom from overeating and diet mentality related guilt about eating what you like.

    When you do this, you honor your need for both fuel and pleasure and you no longer left wanting more.

    You can eat what you need, feel satisfied and eat with moderation.

    Eat in Moderation Solution:

    Normal eating is many things.

    • Eating when you’re hungry.
    • Eating what you love.
    • Eating for energy.
    • Eating when you have the opportunity because you know what the next few hours will bring and you need to prepare.

    Eating is also for pure pleasure.

    The only way to eat the foods you love without guilt and the risk of habitual overeating is to make them part of your life.

    • Here are some questions to help you decide if this is for you:
    • What would happen if you allowed yourself to experience food with pleasure?
    • Would you eat less?
    • Would you feel less guilt and thereby less need to compensate for them?
    • Would your daily nutrition meet all of your needs?

    In sum, my challenge to you is this – allow yourself the opportunity to practice eating in moderation. Changing your relationship with food isn’t as easy as the ease a new diet plan promises. My hope is that the eating in moderation solutions gives you some ideas about how you can do things differently. Changing any habit that no longer serves you is what leads to more health and well-being.

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  • How to Stop Stress Eating and Bingeing in 5 Steps

    Stress eating is pretzel logic.

    When you eat well most of the time, but then something stressful happens and your mind turns immediately to eating the twists and turns of rationalizing it are short lived. When stress eating and bingeing takes hold of you the fallout is tinged with guilt, shame and regret. The big question is how do you get out of the cycle?

    The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things.​

    Blaise Pascal

    Stress eating makes sense, it’s just not logical. Human emotions are connected to both conscious and unconscious memories, thoughts and perceptions. You have an experience and your thoughts about it shape how you describe it. The unconscious memories, that aren’t language based, but rather are emotional and give a “felt sense” or vibe about situations. For stress eating they often are the fuel for calm at any cost that’s difficult to understand and put into words.

    There’s a clash between what’s conscious (food choices that enhance health) and unconscious emotional stress (stress eating regardless of what you know) that can feel like a compulsion or addiction you’re powerless over.

    Stress eating calms your brain in the short them. 

    For a lot of people when stress eating often turns into a binge. Which ten results in feeling even more out of control. And then there’s even more guilt and shame to stress out about than the original stress that let you stress eating.

    You might spiral from fries and a soda for lunch to cupcakes for an afternoon snack or a fancy coffee or an energy drink mid-afternoon when the blood sugar crash hits hard and you’re getting sleepy.

    Since you’re already “off the wagon,” the day gets even worse when you stop by your favorite fast-food place on the way home from work. You’ve hit the point of no return and it’s just you and food tonight.

    Maybe tomorrow will be better.

    The food coma is approaching fast.

    When you add it all up the guilt, shame and disappointment in yourself can be overwhelming. The solution is – once again, start a new diet to get back in control. This is the pretzel logic that leads right back to more stress eating!

    When guilt, shame and disappointment lead to counting calories, cutting out food groups, resistance, to feel good about yourself it’s just never going to happen!

    Dieting doesn’t work that way.

    But does it help you to stop stress eating and bingeing?

    My guess is that your answer is no, it just makes it worse trying the same old solution without a different outcome.

    You probably find that your feelings for yourself aren’t generous or kind either. Sadness and frustration make it difficult to see other options.

    For the people I work with, the feelings after stress eating can be more hurtful than eating the food.

    Stress eating is like putting a band-aid on your car after an accident.

    Even though there’s an accident and care is needed the band-aid will not fix the problem.

    Counting calories is a way to set boundaries for yourself, no matter how much this solution makes things worse, it’s important to acknowledge the goal. Boundaries can be helpful and kind when they are thoughtful and lead to better outcomes.

    You want to feel more in control than the food that’s controlling you.

    How much of your day is spent tracking and making decisions about what you can or can’t eat based on the data collected on your phone app?

    The thing is that you can transform your relationship with food from external control (calorie counting/apps) to internal control (developing a trusting relationship with yourself and your body). Keep reading and I’ll teach you how!

    The battle needs shift from fighting with food for control to working with your needs and taking good care of yourself.

    Battles are externally driven. The focus is on what you’re doing wrong and how you can wrestle control from the stress eating and bingeing.

    Taking care of your needs is a fundamental shift in the metaphor. It’s the thing that got you into this situation in the first place. Focusing on food to meet your emotional needs is what lead to emotional eating.

    When you first stop dieting for control it can seem like you’ll stop paying attention to your health or you’ll thoughtlessly eat whatever, whenever, however.

    But that’s not the way a healthy relationship with yourself that really works. A respectful relationship isn’t one that allows hurtful, destructive situations to continue in the name of love. That’s the opposite of health.

    Loving limits develop from your awareness of what you need and supports you, in mind, body and heart.

    Transforming your relationship with yourself and food is a permanent fix. In fact, it’s one of those situations where you get to a point that it’s impossible to not listen with self-compassion and clarity about your needs anymore. That’s when stress eating and bingeing isn’t a problem anymore.

    Here are 5 things to do instead of stress eating:

    1. Track your feelings.

    If you’re not ready to let go of tracking, instead of tracking calories, write down what you’ve eaten and what you’re feeling. This will give you much more useful information.

    It’s the beginning point of developing a supportive relationship. Getting to know what you really think about what you’ve eaten and how you feel physically and emotionally after your meal or snack will give you information you can use the next time, you’re feeling a similar way.

    If you’re not ready to let go of tracking, instead of tracking calories, write down what you’ve eaten and what you’re feeling. This will give you much more useful information.

    It’s the beginning point of developing a supportive relationship. Getting to know what you really think about what you’ve eaten and how you feel physically and emotionally after your meal or snack will give you information you can use the next time, you’re feeling a similar way.

    2. Stop making judgments.

    A judgmental attitude leads to black and white thinking.

    There’s a mini court of law in your head with a conviction and you’re the guilty party. Sentencing is quickly handed out. There is no appeals process.

    The judgment is, you are bad or the food you enjoyed is bad and dieting is good. It’s really that fundamental. But life is filled with nuance and transforming judgment into curiosity leads to all sorts of possibilities.

    Curiosity gives you some space to think about a situation from all sides, identify how you feel and determine what you need to do for yourself. It takes time and care and you’re more than worth the effort.

    3. Plan your meals instead of leaving it up to whatever!

    When you have an idea of what you’re going to eat for each meal you take the guesswork out of leaving your meals up to chance.

    When you know what you’re having for lunch or dinner you will feel more in control because you are making choices for yourself – the ultimate control.

    Be sure to eat meals you enjoy and provide the nutrition your body needs to run well.

    I can’t stress this enough, planning meals without some measure of pleasure will lead you to avoiding them. Make sure you look forward to your meal by providing yourself with a pause in the day to enjoy yourself (even better if you eat with someone interesting).

    4. Make sure you get enough sleep.

    When you drag through the day because you’re tired, your body will look for quick energy.

    Your ability to make clear choices for yourself will be greatly diminished. You’ll find yourself making impulsive decisions that you aren’t comfortable in the long run.

    The urge to count calories and feel back in control may be even stronger and then the cycle starts all over again.

    Rest is essential to feeling good and to have the mental energy, as well as physical energy, to make choices to fuel your life.

    5. Decide what type of relationship you want to have with your body.

    It’s like learning to swim. Eventually, you let go of the wall and trust that you have learned how to tread water in the deep end of the pool.

    You’re a little unsure, so you stay within arm’s reach. As your confidence grows you move a little further away from the wall, it gets easier, but it’s also tiring.

    You only have so much strength for one day. As you practice you get stronger and more confident and before you know it, you’re swimming like a mermaid! 

    This is the same thing that happens when breaking free from stress eating. It’s difficult to trust yourself and as you do, the trust in yourself will grow and you will find yourself redefining your relationship with food, your body and yourself.

    In sum, transforming your relationship with yourself is one of the most positive things you can do. You can learn to treat yourself with kindness and self-compassion while setting limits that are a natural extension of a conscious relationship with yourself.

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  • 10 Mantras to Unlock Food Obsessions When You’re Really Stressed

    Sometimes we all get stuck listening to that little nagging voice in our heads that leads to stress eating. Mantras to unlock food obsessions help with the voice that says:

    • lure you into quick relief that stress eating brings
    • distract you from what you really need
    • question your wise inner voice
    • doubt your self-knowledge
    • instill a lack of trust in yourself

    The thoughts listed above happen a lot when stress eating or emotional eating is the only go-to stress management option. So what many of my clients believe is that they need more willpower and discipline. This is the exact thing that causes the most stress!

    Willpower might help in in the short term, but what’s stressing you out, it’s not going away until you get to the heart of the matter and this is when mantras can help.

    What if you change the conversation, you have with yourself, would it help you take care of yourself in a more supportive way?

    Maybe it’s not willpower or forcing yourself to do something that you don’t want to do but instead it’s the power of choice that makes the difference. A mantra helps to bring more self-compassion combined with accountability to create sustainable change.

    How to Stop Stress Eating Right Now

    If your goal is to transform how you deal with stress and stress eating, it’s great to have a positive, growth-oriented alternative to counteract your brain’s automatic response for calming stress with eating.

    What’s great about this approach is that when you take a different action, your brain based habits change and you create a new “normal.” Even though it takes time and focused attention you can change your brain at any point in time. AND it usually happens a lot more quickly than most people think it will.

    One way to respond to your stressed-out brain that also calms stress and gets you into a growth mindset is a simple mantra. Mantras that unlock food obsessions can lead you away from stress eating, so that you can make choices with clarity about your needs.

    Mantras are an old-fashioned coping skill that’s been around so long because they work!

    It’s nearly impossible to separate thoughts, feelings, perceptions, potential future scenarios, etc. When stress eating or emotional eating enters the picture, the feelings are often a jumble of mixed emotions.

    Finding your way out of a negative thought is easier when you have something you can do with it. And when you transform negative thoughts, they lead you to conscious eating. Being present in the moment, calming your stressed brain with compassion and gaining clarity to make choices that matter is what makes the difference.

    Using a mantra to help you shift your thoughts and is one of the handiest, always at the ready, strategies to calm, soothe and refocus your brain where you want it to be.

    The best mantras are the mantras you can easily remember, so you’ll come back to a mantra when you need one without wasting time figuring it out when you’re already stressed.

    Mantras that unlock food obsessions are concise and move you toward what you want.

    Stress eating will never satisfy an unmet need.

    Conscious eating is a dynamic, active process. Being a conscious eater means that you make choices in the present moment, paying attention to your emotional state and your need for nourishment.

    As you grow into a more natural conscious eater, you don’t need to think about willpower! You’ll need fewer and fewer reminders to pay attention and be aware of your motivations to eat. It’s like eating when you were young and it was a natural process. You ate when you were hungry most of the time and stopped when you were full, this happened even if you were eating for pleasure it wasn’t filled with the ulterior motive to calm stress.

    And, even if your experience was different when you were young, you can always learn be a conscious eater!

    You may find that your preferences change when you get a chance to slow down and figure it out what you really need.

    Many of my clients often say that they’ve been eating out of habit and not enjoying it.

    You may even find that the you use a mantra you like best comes back to you naturally as an affirmation of your commitment to yourself and your health.

    When you create a supportive nourishing relationship, you’ll naturally grow your skill set for both good and tough times.

    Why use mantras to unlock food obsessions?

    Conscious eating gives you an alternative to stress eating, emotional eating and dieting. A mantra is one tool to support you in building a kind and compassionate relationship with yourself.

    As you become less stressed your need for stress eating diminishes. You’ll find that you take a stand for yourself. Most of all you become your own leader in your life and nurture yourself with compassion and accountability.

    Here are 10 mantras that unlock food obsessions that you can use as they are or as a starting point to create one of your own!

    1. May I move toward my goals with love and kindness and peace.

    2. May my relationship with my body be grounded in compassion.

    3. I am conscious and compassionate with food one meal at a time.

    4. May I experience nourishment in my life.

    5. I listen to my mind, body and heart and I receive what I need in my life.

    6. Change requires my time and attention; my reward is contentment.

    7. May I be patient with myself and experience self-compassion.

    8. I’m cultivating a peaceful relationship with my body.

    9. When I move my body, I experience life and I grow in my awareness.

    10. I nourish my mind, body and heart with a kind and loving heart.

    Changing any habit takes a bit of time and effort. The mind never really stops thinking, so when you give it something to do you’re in control of where it goes. Conscious, mindful effort is what changes your life and leads you to the fulfilling lifestyle you want to live.

    If know someone who might benefit from this post, pass it along – share through email or on social media!

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  • How to Focus When You’re Spent and Overwhelmed

    “Take control of your habits. Take control of your life.”  — Anonymous

    We all fall into habits we would rather not repeat, but when overwhelm leaves you feeling spent, they’re difficult to avoid.

    It’s easy – habits are the shortcuts of life.

    In my house there’s a habit of pulling the clothes out of the dryer and onto the laundry room floor to quickly grab of the one thing that’s needed.

    It’s totally my responsibility since I started it!

    When I was in the midst of recovering from cancer treatment and so incredibly tired with two young children this is what happened most of the time. It was like I treated the space as one big chaotic closet.

    Totally overwhelming!

    And yet, the bright side was that at least we had clean clothes, if not a little wrinkled!

    Habits help you to know what to expect, even when it’s something you don’t want.

    We do this in all areas of our lives.

    Most of our relationships run on some form of habit. We create patterns that help us predict what’s next, so we’re less stressed with new dynamics.

    I’m sure you’ve experienced those times when you know how your partner or co-worker will react.

    When they do what they normally do and you say to yourself, ‘I kind of thought it would go that way.’

    We do this with ourselves too – all the time!  And it’s a big part of what leads to overwhelm and exhaustion.  When the habit is a thought or expectation that things are the way, they are it can quickly lead to overwhelm.

    Thought habits are also some of the most exhausting habits to change.

    How many times have you told yourself you’re going to change the habit and there you are again, like on autopilot, you’re at it again?

    Even when you don’t want the habit, it’s less effort and takes less energy to change the habit to something more helpful.

    Aligned Positive Self Talk Relieves Overwhelm

    When one of my new coaching clients begins their journey to work life balance one of their top goals is to be less critical, especially of their selves.

    This shows up most of the time in the way they speak to themselves.

    Often what helps the most isn’t to simply replace the negative thought with a positive one. Instead, a recalibration to shift the energy from overwhelm to alignment is what makes a sustainable change.

    All that said, it’s also important to acknowledge that there are certain points in the year when we have more to do. Sometimes overwhelm doesn’t start with emotional stress it starts with the sheer volume of tasks in short period of time.

    For parents with school age children typically September and May are very busy with lots of extra commitments as the school year begins and ends. And as always there’s the holiday season with work, school, social and religious commitments. These months of the year are a little different, but the same skill of focus helps to prioritize competing needs.

    During the busy months it’s helpful to go into them with a plan for recalibration that’s based on your need for alignment – to live in harmony with your goals and values.

    So how do you make this happen? When you focus on changing the way you talk to yourself, in your own head, real change happens.

    Thought Habits Help You Focus

    This is because most of the thoughts are habits.

    They’re locked inside, never spoken, so you don’t have the opportunity to challenge them.

    Here are some examples from real life…

    Take a common statement many women say a lot,

    ‘I’m going to be good and pass on dessert.’

    You’ve probably heard this from the time you were little or maybe you even say it now!

    The message becomes ingrained, that eating dessert is somehow tied to morality.

    The implication is that you’re a bad person if you eat dessert.

    At best it says that you lack strength and willpower if you do indulge.

    Avoiding dessert becomes a habit, be good and don’t eat it. (Does this also make a statement about women who enjoy sensual pleasures? Hmmm…)

    If you do break the habit and eat dessert then a cascade of guilt and shame begins — the next default habit – an expectation of judgement and more guilty that reinforce the judgement.

    Changing this habit is definitely possible, with an intentional process that cuts through all of the expectations.  When you’re in the experience of enjoying dessert and focused on non-judgment you’re building a new perspective. A new habit is born and it replaces the overwhelming habit of food guilt as you focus on the process and repeat the new habit.

    Non-judgmental Focus

    Non-judgmental focus helps to change overwhelming habits with aligned ways of thinking.

    Creating and using alternative statements that you have at the ready helps you to focus on what you want – freedom from overwhelm. Moving toward what you do want is infinitely easier than pushing back against what you don’t want.

    Here’s an example of what I mean using the dessert example:

    ‘I’m bad if I eat dessert’ becomes –

    ‘Food doesn’t hold moral value, only nutritional value. I can choose to eat dessert or not and I am morally the same person no matter which choice I make.’

    Or it could also be one of these statements,

    ‘I’m experiencing one of the simple pleasures in life!’

    ‘I’m satisfied and I’m not interested in dessert right now.’

    These are just a few statements to get you started. Practicing one of these statements and adding more of you own gives you something to use when it’s needed, so you’re prepared.

    Self Leadership

    Trying to come up with supportive alternatives to your habits when you’re overwhelmed is like asking yourself for a magic wand. It’s so far outside of what’s possible that it’s a sure set up for even more overwhelm. But what does help is to practice these statements and add more of your own, so you’re ready.

    I know I just said that twice, because my experience is that we think we’ll remember, but we don’t!

    Practice makes progress as my kid’s teachers say!

    My hope for you is that this way of being with yourself becomes so much of a habit that supports your happiness that they become automatic.

    Afterall, the relationship you have with yourself is the one that matters the most. When you’re in alignment with what you want and need, you’re able to use your felt experience as the information you need to shift your perspective and focus on what matters.

    And, if you’re like most of us, you’ll most likely experience a bit of overwhelm from time to time. The difference is to acknowledge it when it’s at a low level, so you can more easily identify what you need and move toward it.

    Focus might seem like it’s confining, but what it really does is keep you on track, so you receive what you truly want. The snowball effect begins to take hold and when you receive what you want. it’s most likely what you need for a fulfilling life as well.


    My challenge to you is to look at your week and with compassion in your heart, answer this question:

    ‘What will fill my life with calm and clarity today?’

    Remember, focus is an investment in your future self. It gives you a rich awareness of how you can own your life and lead yourself to a life filled with fulfilment and intention.

    I can’t wait for you to experience the peace and fulfillment you desire in your life!

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    Stress Resilience Map

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  • How to Cure Stress Eating and Get What You Really Need

    There’s so much information about how to stop stress eating.

    Every day my news feed and social platforms tell me the new and improved ways to hack stress eating and emotional eating.

    The advice usually falls into one of these 3 categories:

    1. Funny, in your face non-diet messages often delivered by young women who fit the dominant culture beauty ideal. Not that there’s anything wrong with it. In fact, I’m really happy that the younger generations have a much better viewpoint of diet culture. But decades of stress, dieting and cultural influences take a bit more effort than eating an ice cream while flipping off diet culture.

    2. Information to that appears to be new, but it isn’t it’s just having a refreshed cover. This you can probably guess what I’m talking about! You know the same diet programs that have been around for a long time or even newer apps that claim to not be a diet. Just because you say you’re not a diet doesn’t mean you aren’t a diet – we see you out there!

    3. Professionals who offer their research evidence that their way is the correct or best way to live. This strikes me as academic competitiveness, which is good, it pushes humanity to find better ways. The problem is that it paints a picture of all or nothing with the researcher or influencer the hero who has found the golden key that will unlock the secret garden if only we will follow them.

    I’m sure there are many, many more we could add, but let’s get to what really matters.

    The issue is that stress eating isn’t really about the food.

    Food just happens to be the focus or device for relief.  The reason why people use food for stress relief is that it works – to a point. It happens to be food is for a lot of reasons:

    • Habits learned when young
    • Habits formed in college
    • The brain really does feel happier and calmer after eating
    • No knowing what else to do calm stress
    • Boredom

    Using food is easy, inexpensive and relatively socially acceptable.

    Women bond over both their desire for decadence and the inevitable discussion about diets and workouts. It’s like we’re in this struggle together and yet, we haven’t’ quite figured out how to stop it.

    The issue is that stress eating isn’t really about the food.

    Food just happens to be the focus or device for relief.  The reason why people use food for stress relief is that it works – to a point. It happens to be food is for a lot of reasons:

    • Habits learned when young
    • Habits formed in college
    • The brain really does feel happier and calmer after eating
    • No knowing what else to do calm stress
    • Boredom

    Using food is easy, inexpensive and relatively socially acceptable.

    Women bond over both their desire for decadence and the inevitable discussion about diets and workouts. It’s like we’re in this struggle together and yet, we haven’t’ quite figured out how to stop it.

    That’s were getting down to the root of the issue is really the only way to break free from stress eating and that’s an easy solution!

    If we stop the distractions of focusing on the food and focus on what gets you to that point then we have a real solution.

    The problem is that most of us were never taught how to work with our emotions and calm the anxious brain and body in a way that results in clarity about what to do next.

    Here’s the really good part, this isn’t about digging around in your unconscious to find the “root cause” and then when you understand the reasons why you’ll somehow, magically stop stress eating.

    I wish it was that easy, because I bet you know why you stress eat, but that hasn’t helped to stop it.

    When I started my practice as a psychotherapist and coach that’s what I thought. That we would uncover the source of the pain and it would be relieved. But, when I began my PhD studies, I learned that emotional eating is really stress eating and the pathway to lasting relief is:

    1. Emotional Mastery
    2. Clear Communication
    3. Well-being Habits

    This is the Powerful Calm System and is the foundation for conscious eating which is a very simple way to get back to listening to your body, eating in response to hunger and mindfully enjoying food.

    Emotional Mastery

    Conscious eating is eating with awareness of what your body needs for fuel and satisfaction.

    It is eating with respectful kindness for yourself, free from judgment. You learn to follow listen to yourself and use your emotions as your guide.

    It is negotiating between your body and mind, listening to your heart in the present moment.

    Conscious eating is the awareness that the next time you need to eat, you have the opportunity to make new choices in each new moment.

    Conscious eating frees you from deprivation and urgency, which is usually a frantic anxiety filled impulse to get what you want now.

    It might be because –

    • it may be gone soon
    • this is the last time you’ll allow yourself to eat it
    • the diet starts tomorrow, so better have it now!

    Stress eating, (emotional eating) can be like this. Sometimes to distract, sometimes to avoid, sometimes to control feelings which seem unmanageable. No matter the path it takes, it all leads back to stress as the cause.

    Conscious eating frees you so that you can stop for a moment, give yourself time and space to identify your feelings, identify your hunger, and make decisions based on what your mind, body and heart needs.

    Clear Communication

    Conscious eating helps you to connect with the fullness of your life free from the stress that interferes with your goals.

    You can nourish yourself in the full meaning of the word nourish.

    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.

    Sometimes you will eat purely for fuel. You are hungry, busy, and just need to get some nutrition in your system to function well.

    You are living your life and food is simply one part a many important parts of life, not the one thing you spend too much time thinking about.

    At other times you eat for enjoyment as well as nourishing your body. Clear communication with yourself allows you to freely enjoy food without guilt because the choices you make aren’t a reaction to stress, but rather they are a choice based on what you need for energy and enjoyment. And when that happens, there’s no reason for blame and shame about food or your body.

    Well-being Habits

    Becoming a conscious eater is like getting back to nature.

    You’ll get back to eating in a natural rhythm and when stress hits you no longer reach for food to calm and self-soothe.

    Emotions and food are two separate things, but sometimes it seems like they’re the same.

    It is like when you were little and you ate because you were hungry and stopped when you were full. Even when you had something delicious, like your favorite food, you listened to your body and stopped when your body let you know it was full.

    You can get back to listening to your natural rhythms.

    And, if this was not your experience growing up, you can learn how to become a Conscious Eater who is able to listen to her body and follow through!

    When you eat this way, you find what is health-enhancing for you. There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to nourishing your body. The only perfect diet for you is finding what works well for your body today and doing more of it. And when things change, you’re able to adapt to the changes because you are free to listen to your body and make adjustments as needed.

    Listen to your body.

    There’s a wealth of knowledge about sound basic nutrition. Freely available to you and a lot of well-qualified providers who can support you too.


    The bottom line is that conscious eating is a simple way to implement the Powerful Calm System, so you no longer need stress eating and emotional eating again!

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    Stress Resilience Map

    It's your magic wand for stress!