Emotional health to lose weight? Hear me out! I'm explaining this concept in detail in today's Dish On Ditching Diets podcast episode and will illustrate for you with several client examples why you must prioritize your emotional health to lose weight for good.
Many of my clients believe they are not emotional eaters because most of think about emotional eating and think of a woman sobbing and overeating food. For the majority of women I work, the emotional eating is not very obvious.
Instead emotional eating more likely for you looks like skipping meals, not taking physical care of yourself, people pleasing and putting your job and others first, perfectionist tendencies, rewarding yourself after work, grabbing random foods throughout the day, using food and alcohol to relax at night, eating food because it's how you experience joy.
I explain these more in the podcast episode but they are common emotional eating patterns I see clients in!
When women over 35 come talk to me in a free consultation about coaching, they always tell me being healthy is the most important thing to them.
In their mind, they think if they lose weight they will be healthy and then they will be emotionally balanced.
They believe they will like themselves better, say better things to themselves, be nicer to themselves, be more confident and feel happier.
All of this is BS because if you really believed being healthy was the most important thing to you on the planet then in the moment where you're faced with instant gratification with food and alcohol, you wouldn't give into that.
But the majority of women do give into the instant gratification and then they believe something is wrong with them and they can't lose weight.
Many of my clients are truly confused about why they are not losing weight because they are not realizing that they are giving into instant gratification.
They do not realize that their emotional health is what is driving them to give into the instant gratification. "I had a long, hard day, I should eat or drink a glass of wine" is a common example of you feeling emotionally drained and eating as a result of your emotional status.
In the moment, you think it's a good idea like you're doing yourself the biggest favor to eat or drink, but you're not aware of your emotional status and that what you're doing is actually self-indulgence.
In my coaching, I bring up my clients emotional baggage with food journaling. It helps me see and clients see what they are eating and why they are doing it. I'm prioritizing their emotional health (and mindset) so they can lose weight.
Most women are attempting to lose weight FIRST before addressing their emotional health. What I'm telling you is that it needs to be the reverse. You must prioritize your emotional health BEFORE you lose weight.
The beautiful thing is when you do prioritize your emotional health, you begin feeling better about yourself emotionally and naturally you begin taking better physical care of yourself.
There's no more forcing yourself to change your eating behavior because if you only change what you eat, take away food or follow a meal plan, you will only do it temporarily because you never addressed why you were overeating in the first place.
The food is not the real problem why women overeat. It's the emotional landscape and mindset that is driving the behavior with food that leads to weight gain.
It's so important to address emotional health first so you can achieve lasting weight loss and I see this happen for so many of my clients.
More details on this and client examples to illustrate how emotional health drives behavior with food in the podcast episode. I hope you enjoy it!
In this Dish on Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- Difference Between Self-Compassion & Self-Indulgence
- Why Eating What You Want Isn't Self-Compassion
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
- Self Compassion To Lose Weight
- Why Knowing What To Eat Does Not Help With Weight Loss
- Why Your WHY Isn't Helping You Lose Weight
Why You Must Prioritize Emotional Health To Lose Weight Podcast Show Notes
Hello friends! Today I want to talk to you about why you must prioritize emotional health to lose weight. Now I realize some of you believe you just have a weight problem.
Or some of you believe you are not an emotional eater. Most of us when we hear emotional health in relation to food, we think about a woman sobbing eating a bag of chips or a bucket of ice cream. But that’s not what I’m exactly referring to.
Here’s a few examples of what I mean by emotional health, and it’s all tied into the mindset work that I do with my clients. Let’s say you’re a people pleaser and you always put everyone else first.
You always come last. You’re a people pleaser and neglecting your needs or maybe you’re a perfectionist and get angry at yourself for not meeting your own expectations. That’s emotional health. Let’s say you’re busy and stressed all the time and fuel your body inconsistently. Not taking care of yourself and prioritizing others things is emotional health.
Let’s say you come home from work, and you tell yourself you’ve been so good quote-on-quote all day and you eat food or drink alcohol to reward yourself. Let’s say you drink alcohol or eat non-fuel food after dinner because you tell yourself you want to relax, and this is how you relax so you can sleep.
Let’s say you tell yourself you must feel full to be satisfied or that food brings you joy. That’s all part of your emotional landscape and those are just a few examples, but those some of the common ones I see with my clients.
Now, here’s what I hear a lot from women over 35 who do free consultations with me. 99% of them tell me that the reason they need to lose their weight is because they want to be more healthy and it sounds good, I know. And especially, with the age group that I work with.
Women over 35 who have 20-50 or more pounds to lose. Many of these women have children and grandchildren or loved ones they care for and partners. They see themselves getting older. They see their loved ones aging and dealing with health conditions.
I get it, my Dad had a heart attack when he was 36 and was diagnosed with early onset dementia in his early 60’s. So I get it, health seems like it should be more of a priority.
But this is what I want to tell you that I know for sure. It is not very compelling when it comes down to fueling your body with nutrient dense food, dealing with urges around food, dealing with your day-to-day stresses of life and having foods in front of you and knowing what to do with them.
Instant gratification comes up for you, your brain immediately goes crazy wants that gratification and to you, giving into that instant gratification seems like the easiest thing for you to do and then you think you don’t have control and what you tell me you want more than anything else is you just want to be healthy.
In a way, it’s BS. I’m not going to say the whole word. But it’s really BS because you don’t really buy it that the most important thing for you is to be healthy because if you really did buy into that you wanted health and it was the most important thing for you, you would not be listening to me right now and you would not be on the phone having a consultation with me.
I talked about your WHY and why your why isn’t good enough in episode 42. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I highly recommend you go back and listen to it.
Because what I really want you to think about is what do you really really want? What is compelling? And I’ll give you a few hints here – if you’re saying I don’t want to have high cholesterol. I don’t want to be on medications.
That is the same as saying I want to be healthy and it’s not very compelling. It’s also not compelling saying I don’t want something. I don’t want to have sore joints. I don’t want to struggle fitting into clothes.
I don’t want to be afraid to see myself in pictures. I don’t want, I don’t want, I don’t want. Telling yourself what you don’t want isn’t compelling. Tell yourself what you DO want!
This is what I want to explain to you about the process I use with my clients focusing on their mindset which I already mentioned to you includes that emotional health and why I think it is successful with my clients.
It’s because what I really offer in this process is emotional health first. I think every woman coming to me is trying to achieve weight loss first. They think when I lose the weight and then I’m quote-on-quote healthy, then I’ll feel emotionally better.
I’ll like myself better, I’ll say better things to myself, I’ll finally love myself, I’ll feel more confident, I’ll feel happier. You believe those emotions will come AFTER the physical weight loss which you believe is where your health is going to come from.
None of that is true because if it were true why did you gain weight back the last time you lost it? Think about this…if you loved yourself more, felt more confident, felt better, and said better things to yourself why the last time you lost weight did you gain it back?
Because you did it backwards. You focused on losing weight only and ignored the emotional or mindset piece. You didn’t really take the time upfront to understand why you were overweight in the first place.
Like why weren’t you prioritizing putting nutrients in your body, why were you rewarding yourself, why were you putting everyone else first or thinking you have to be perfect, or that you need food to relax, to bring you joy, etc.? Do you see what I’m getting at here?
If you just change the food or take away food, you never fix what led to you becoming weight in the first place which is almost always emotional health which is part of mindset.
What I do with clients is I help them see what’s going on with their mindset so that they can achieve that emotional wellness FIRST not the weight loss. What’s interesting is that the more emotionally balanced you are, the easier it is for you to deal with the stuff that comes up from food.
Most of you are looking for physical weight loss first and thinking that if you just know what to eat you would feel emotionally better and what I am saying to you is it needs to be the opposite. Do you know how many people I’ve worked with throughout the years who I’ve told them what to eat and they wouldn’t do it? A LOT!
Years ago, I ran a meal planning business with a registered dietician friend of mine and it was fascinating the number of women who signed up for meal plans and did nothing with it. You know why?
Because their emotions and their mindset go in the way of them taking the action of actually doing the meal plan. This is why I’m trying to explain to you that looking for the answer in food is not where you should be looking because that’s not the real problem.
Here's the interesting thing about the process I use with clients. I use food to bring up all their emotional baggage. Clients do food journals, but they do them because it helps me see what is going on with them emotionally and in their mind. It helps them see what is causing them their pain.
And you think you just can’t control yourself around food and that somehow food is the problem, and you know by listening to my podcast, you’ve heard the transformational podcasts where my clients have shared their stories – one of the first things you will hear my clients say in those podcasts is that food wasn’t really the problem. And this is what they learned through our coaching.
The coaching I do helps clients become more aware of their emotional health and their mindset. I give my clients nutritional guidance on things nutritionally that I want them to include in their diet, but I ask them to write down what they eat and how they’re feeling.
I had a client recently who just started working with me. I asked her to work on adding some nutrition to her breakfast and to start journaling. She came to the coaching call and said Megan I realized I’m overeating and I’m seeing with the food journal that I do this every time I get upset about something. I never realized I was doing this!
Do you know what she told me before we began coaching? Let me tell you! Before we started coaching together, she told me she couldn’t understand why she wasn’t losing weight. She’s a healthy eater and I can see that based on her food journals.
She eats a lot of healthy food, but what she wasn’t seeing was all this overeating she was doing, and she was doing a lot of it! It was a huge relief to her to finally see what was really going on. She doesn’t like what’s going on because it was weighing heavily on her emotionally. But it was a relief emotionally to connect those dots.
I know this sounds so simple, but I got to tell you how incredibly beneficial it is. And I really want you to think about what do you really want? Physical weight loss first or emotional health?
Now listen, I totally get that we all want to lose weight and be healthy but for many of you who come to me you are quote-on-quote ARE physically healthy.
You just think that weight loss will make you less at a risk for getting other things but you haven’t been in the hospital, you don’t have anything critical or terrible going on with you but you scare yourself into believe that your weight could cause something later on.
And that’s not compelling to not eat a cookie or ice cream or chips. You think it would be, but you see a food that triggers you and the urge and desire to eat it gets so strong in your body and then you believe that you have to give into it because it feels so uncomfortable in your body.
That’s actually what I help clients deal with when I talk about emotional health or mindset. Did you know that urges and desires to eat something that’s not fuel , you’re eating it because the brain just wants it – that instant gratification or dopamine hit – that is emotional health when you know how to handle those urges. I call that emotional hunger.
I talk with clients in the beginning about emotional hunger vs. physical hunger and you know most of them at first tell me they don’t know how to tell the difference between the two in their body.
But they begin connecting to their physical hunger pretty quickly and learning to fuel their body regularly with nutrients. That’s the easy part. Then the real work comes of dealing with that emotional hunger and the urges to eat. Remember what I said earlier, many of you don’t realize you’re emotionally eating.
So for you to believe you need to lose weight first so that you can get emotional health, it’s the other way around. If you want to be physically healthy, you need emotional health first. Now there are many different scenarios where that physical health is the most important thing for you.
I have a client who began working with me a few months ago and while we were working together, she had afib with her heart. Her situation is one where it’s paramount that she works on her nutrition and lose weight because she will lose her physical health.
But that’s not the case for most of you. Most of you are getting along in life, but you’re scaring yourself thinking you’re going to lose your physical health if you don’t lose weight. All you’re really doing is scaring yourself emotionally and making it more likely that you’re going to give into urges with food to make yourself feel better. Does that make sense to you?
Your emotional health, your over desire for food or alcohol and urges around food, you anxiety and restlessness is all about dealing with the emotional landscape. When your emotional health is balanced, the healthier your emotions become the more likely it is that you will also take care of yourself better from a physical standpoint. Right?
Most of you are trying to do it the opposite way. You’re saying first I have to get healthy; I have to lose this weight, so I have a better chance of being healthy and then I’ll take care of my emotions. I’ll feel better. But it does not work like that.
The healthier your emotions are and you know what emotions are – they are your feelings. All your feelings come from your thinking.
And there is no better way to bring up the thoughts that don’t serve you that create emotions that don’t serve you than by being coached on the food you’re putting in your mouth when you don’t need fuel or why you’re taking care of everyone else and putting yourself last and never getting to eat anything nutritious or why you’re rewarding yourself and all those other things I talked about earlier.
In podcast episode 60, I spoke about why knowing what to eat doesn’t help and I shared a client example with you. This client came to a coaching call tell me she was sick of her breakfast, sick of eating eggs which I never told her she had to eat eggs, but she was skipping breakfast, or she was grabbing random things like bars and muffins for breakfast that weren’t serving her.
As I was coaching her about what was going on with breakfast, she told how her best friend committed suicide and how she was going through a divorce. Do you see how her problem had nothing to do with food? It wasn’t about the food; it was about her emotions and her emotions were coming from her thinking.
Thinking this shouldn’t be happening, why did my best friend do this, why is my family not supporting this divorce, there must be something wrong with me. That thinking is poisonous and was why she was doing these strange things with her breakfast. She was trying to blame the eggs, but it had nothing to do with eggs.
Another client of mine last year, her house flooded, and she started eating cupcakes for breakfast. She got frustrated she wasn’t losing weight and told me it was my fault.
The problem wasn’t me or the food, it wasn’t even the cupcakes. In fact, the cupcakes were an innocent bystander and so was I. The real culprit were her emotions and how she was dealing with the flood in her house.
This shouldn’t be happening to me; I can’t handle this flood right now. Her thinking was poisonous - making her feel out of control. Her emotions were causing her to overeat. It’s easy to blame other people or to villainize food. That’s taking the easy way out.
It’s hard to be honest with yourself and to allow yourself to see what the real problem is without getting mad at yourself.
So it’s really important to know what you’re thinking and sometimes you can’t do this by yourself which is why a coach is very helpful. I can help you see why what you think is beneficial to you isn’t helping you.
Like you’ve had a long hard day and it’s nighttime and you just want to eat whatever and not pay attention. Do you know how many women tell me they’re good during the day and it’s the nighttime that’s a problem? Do you think that’s balanced emotional health?
What’s going on after 4 or 5 o’clock that’s not going on before that? That’s your emotional landscape. You want better physical health? You have to figure that out first!
You listen to your brain all day long and you think you’re pretty brilliant with some of your thinking. I’ve worked all day, it’s been so hard, I don’t know what my problem is but I think maybe I should eat this or drink that and I think maybe I should just eat something to relax.
You think that’s a good idea in the moment because it’s instant gratification. But what I want for you is to discover how to have pleasure that lasts for a long time, not for one instance. That’s what’s called true emotional balance.
So, if you want to have good physical health and lose weight for good, my suggestion is get your brain and emotions together first. Learn how to take care of that first because then it flows nicely into taking care of yourself physically better.
This is so important because what you put in your mouth is how you take care of yourself and the best way to take care of yourself is learning to appreciate yourself and having self-compassion and kindness toward yourself. That’s all part of your emotional landscape.
My client Desiree talked about self-compassion in podcast episode 73 and how she learned how important it is.
Many of you think having self-compassion for yourself is eating as many cookies as you can because you had a hard day but that’s actually called self-indulgence, not self-compassion.