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The 9 Steps to Freedom from Emotional Eating

Updated: Jun 3, 2023

So how did I break the cycle of emotional eating? Well first, I realized that I needed to show myself real compassion, I was overeating for a reason. Then I realized that the only way I could overcome these destructive eating patterns was to find practical steps that I could take each day that would become second nature. Remember 95% of diets don’t work and don’t address the underlaying reasons for emotional eating, so here’s my 9 Steps to breaking the harmful effects of emotional eating.


1. Keep a Food Journal – it’ll become your best friend

The first step I took in controlling emotional eating patterns was to identify the triggers that lead me to comfort eat. I did this by keeping a food journal and tracking what, when and why I was eating. After several weeks I could clearly see a pattern and the triggers that led me to overeating. I also realized how incredibly sensitive I was to the world around me, things upset me, people’s behavior upset me, and I was in the habit of eating fast food to make me feel better. If I scored a poor test result, it meant a trip to McDonalds. If the girl turned me down for a date, I stayed home and ordered pizza. When I didn’t make the soccer team, that was a cue for chocolate ice cream. I realized that life brings disappointments, that’s life, but I needed to find healthier ways to cope with these emotions rather than stuffing my face with animal fries at In n’ Out. Remember there’s nothing wrong with occasional self-indulgence, food is to be enjoyed but not used as a drug to cope with life’s struggles.


2. Learn to Live Life on Life’s Terms – it’s easier than using food to cope


Keeping a journal is incredibly powerful, it helped me see the way I’ve used food to deal with life. But I had to find a solution and a new way of living. I needed to develop healthier habits, new coping mechanisms that would help me deal with both the triumphs and the disappointments that life brings. I also had to lighten up and not take life so seriously. I learned to laugh and see the funny side, especially with my eating habits. I mean who pretends to order for a family of four at a fast-food window when I’m the only person in the car and cashier knows me! 😊 I’ve come to realize that people, places, and things don’t dictate my happiness or my enjoyment in life. My true happiness comes from pursuing my purpose and passion for health and helping people achieve their goals and that’s why I’m in the business of transformation.

3. Get Moving – exercise is the best anti-depressant


I’ve always loved exercise; I started walking at first because at 333 lbs. it’s hard to run. I need to share another painful story from the early days of my incredible transformation, which just came to mind as I’m writing. I was living in Pasadena back in 2008 and decided to start walking every day around the Rose Bowl. One morning while taking my usual route around the famous old stadium, a car with a group of high school students slowly pulled beside me, the driver rolled down the window and shouted, “hey fat ass, keep moving” the girls in the backseat burst out laughing. I was so ashamed and hurt and for several months afterward I waited until dark to take my daily walks so people wouldn’t see me. I ‘ve never forgotten that incident and whenever I see a very overweight person out walking or jogging, I make a point to acknowledge them with a big loving smile. It’s hard for people and I have nothing but admiration for anyone taking those first steps on their transformation journey. Today, I’m incredibly active, I love the gym, hiking, swimming, and running. I hit the slopes up in Lake Tahoe during the winter and have become a strong skier. I couldn’t dream of these pursuits at 333 lbs. Life is action packed!


4. Meditation – exercise for the mind

I’ve also found meditation an excellent practice to cope with stress rather than turning to food. I use the Head Space app and follow the various guided meditations and courses especially for sleep. One of my favorite places in Los Angeles is the Peace Awareness Labyrinth & Gardens (peacelabyrinth.org) . I absolutely love walking the labyrinth and have attended many meditation courses over the years at the center.


5. Stay Connected, Get into Gratitude – see the good in the world I send out a daily gratitude list to friends and clients every morning, it’s a great way to start the day and see the good in the world. I think of 12 things in my life that I’m truly grateful for from my partner Lauren (who’s always on my list), my incredible life transformation to simple things like fresh water and good food in my fridge. Another very important way I cope with stress and negative emotions is to stay connected with friends and family. When I was ‘in the food’ I often isolated and tried to solve my problems alone. Now, I have a host of close friends who I can share my fears, my hopes, and my aspirations with. I make a point of socializing with friends on a weekly basis, and food is a great way to connect. But when I’m out for dinner my focus is on the company and not the food, but I do love the many great restaurants Los Angeles has to offer. It’s also a huge comfort to be able to call several people and connect, loneliness is a huge reason why so many people overeat. I make a point of calling a different friend every day and laughing with them. Laughing is so important and I always try to see the funny things in life. These simple new habits have profound results in coping with emotions that reduce the urge to turn to food. I’m very grateful for my new life today.


6. Savior Your Mealtimes - practice mindful eating


Have you noticed how everyone is on their phones today. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, driving, walking, working out, even at the movies. It’s insane. I walked into a restaurant the other day and most people were glued to their phones while shoveling food into their mouths. I don’t think some of them could even taste the food! Lol. I’ve been guilty of that as well. But over the last few years, I’ve worked very hard to pay attention to the present moment, especially while eating. Mealtime is sacred for me, I love food and I want to savior the taste, texture, and smell of my meal. I turn off my phone, and if home, the television as well. No distractions, I take time to chew and taste the food in my mouth. If I’m eating with my fiancé or friends, I focus on them in between bites and take my time to enjoy the experience. It’s practice.

7. Plan Your Meals and Snacks – it can be incredibly romantic!

This is an amazing step to stay on track. I plan meals and snacks ahead of time especially if I’m going on weekend trips with my fiancée, it takes the stress out of eating when on the road. I love planning picnics and I fill our picnic basket with lots of healthy goodies. My fiancée loves it and it’s incredibly romantic, so she tells me! Not only do we eat well but I also stay in her good books on every trip. Remember happy wife happy life! 😊

8. Learn to Love Food (in a healthy way) I don’t do diets! I find diets restrictive, and triggering. Over the years I’ve learned to love food and enjoy the freedom to try a variety of cuisines from many different cultures. Food is to be savored, it adds to the tapestry of life, it’s a great way to connect with people and by making the right choices has transformed my life. On the F90 Nutrition process I teach clients how to practice freedom with food and learn to love food in a healthy way.

9. Get Professional Help - there’s no shame in our game

Hey, I live in Los Angeles, everyone in LA has a therapist, a life coach, or a spiritual adviser😊but seriously, if emotional eating is interfering with your daily life and causing pain, GET professional help. I’ve spent the last 15 years developing a process of transformation which I’m now sharing with clients all over the world through F90 Nutrition, but I’ve also had a great deal of help along the way. We can’t do this alone and sometimes we need professional help, there’s no shame in our game. Get the help you need. So, there you have it. The solution to all your problems in nine simple steps! Well not quite but it is a fantastic set of tools to practice on your road to transformation and happiness. So, if you're serious about breaking free from emotional overeating, transforming your body (and life) then contact me to discuss the incredible formula that has worked miracles in my own life.

Until the next time wishing you peace with food and life!


Michael.


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