Have you ever downed an entire bag of chips or cookies? Ate a quart of ice cream, or an entire pizza or cake until you felt sick? Drank one too many glasses of wine or liquor? Do you remember how you were feeling at the time?
I ask because sometimes we overeat or drink to help distract us from emotional pain or stress. Think about it—have you noticed that sometimes when you overeat you’re not hungry at all? What you are is lonely, angry, sad, stressed, frustrated, tired, bored, or something else.
So I encourage you to HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, tired) and check in with what you're really feeling. Wouldn’t it be more effective to pause, tap into your emotions, and address the real issue? If you’ve been allowing your present health to be affected by other emotions, I urge you to HALT and address those feelings head on.
These steps can help:
H--Hungry? Fuel your body with well balanced meals throughout the day. Eating regular meals that combine healthy fats (avocado, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds), fiber (vegetables, fruit, whole grains), and lean protein (chicken, fish, tofu, tempeh, turkey, bison) will help keep your energy levels stable and cravings at bay.
A--Angry? Talk to a trusted friend, family member, coach, or therapist. Speaking with others is tremendously comforting. Also consider keeping a journal. Writing is a very powerful tool. It allows you to get your feelings out. You can write a letter to someone you've been wanting to get something off your chest to, or just write what's on your mind. If it's a letter, you can decide whether or not to send it or throw it out. Studies have shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and promotes better sleep.
L--Lonely? Research shows that loneliness is now linked to an increased risk of inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune disease and asthma and even early mortality. Its effects on health are the same as obesity and smoking. If you find that you are feeling lonely, look to spend time with those that make you happy. Get involved with a community or group, take up a hobby where you can connect with like minded individuals, or give back to those in need. When you find ways to feel fulfilled, you'll be less likely to look for ways to fill up unnecessarily.
T--Tired? Getting a good night's sleep is essential for good health. Not only does it strengthen your immune system to fight infection and keep your skin glowing and healthy, but studies have shown that when people don't get enough sleep they have increased levels of a hunger hormone called ghrelin and decreased levels of the satiety hormone called leptin. This could lead to overeating and weight gain. People tend to consume about 300 calories more a day than when they are well-rested and most of the extra calories come from high-fat foods. Are you clocking the right amount of zzzz's?
So the next time you reach for a bag of chips, cake, or that extra cocktail, HALT, and check in with what you're feeling and what you really need.
To your health & happiness,