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Improving Life Skills to Decrease Upset and End Emotional Eating

Need some useful strategies for handling upsetting situations more effectively? The stronger your skills, the better you’ll be at handling life without needing to turn to food as a crutch or comfort.

  1. Reduce procrastination. We often eat when we wish to put off a task we deem

unpleasant. We tie the task to negative feelings—it’s too painful, difficult, time-consuming, etc., and, therefore, put off doing it. Instead, associate tasks with positive feelings such as pleasure, fun, or pride in achievement. Duke University Professor Ariely had to give himself painful daily injections for 18 months which made him sick well into the next day. Initially he procrastinated, but then he started renting his favorite movies to enjoy while he was recuperating from the injections. (Dan Ariely’s The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home) I have little time to read fiction and one of my incentives to hop onto my treadmill and elliptical machine is that using them provides me with 30 minutes of uninterrupted reading time! Using them isn’t a chore but a gift.

  1. Recover from heartache. Often we eat for solace when we’ve been let down in

romance. If you’ve been hurt numerous times (who hasn’t?), it can be difficult to push yourself to get out there to seek love again. To increase resilience when you’ve been cast aside, psychologist Salvatore Maddi advises us to purposely engage and attach yourself to people and to life, tell yourself that you have the power to find love rather than playing the victim, and learn from stressful experiences. If you want bounce back from heartbreak more quickly, these mindsets are key. (“Get comfy with harsh truth, be open to life,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, E 47, 6/23/16).

  1. Stop feeling guilty and apologize. At times we feel so guilty that we turn to food to

stuff down our feelings. If this happens, the best action to take is to apologize as quickly as possible. If you don’t know how to do so appropriately, you might be afraid that a mea culpa will make things worse. So, here’s what to do according to author Maribeth Kuzmeski (“How to do almost anything,” Sarasota Herald-Tribune, p. 33): If you can, when you’re face to face, make total eye contact, offer a lead in such as “Do you have a minute to talk about something?,” say the entire phrase “I’m sorry,” stop there and don’t add a defense or explanation for whatever hurtful thing you did or said, and recognize that you may not be forgiven, at least not right away, or sometimes not at all.

Practice these life skills when you have the urge to eat in the above situations. For more help, read Outsmarting Overeating: Boost Your Life Skills, End Your Food Problems.

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