Week 5 VIDEO: How to Stop Emotional Eating

Filed Under: Weight Loss Program
Last Reviewed 06/17/2014

Do you know the difference between mouth hunger and stomach hunger? Dr. Sinatra explains and provides tips to help you identify and stop emotional eating, also called stress eating. Watch the video now.




Hi. I'm Dr. Steve Sinatra and welcome to week five of my heart health and weight loss program. By now, I hope you're taking my non-inflammatory diet and you're exercising; walking at least a mile a day, and taking Omega-3 Slim, my heart healthy green tea thermogenesis product.

Today I want to talk about something that's a little more difficult; the emotional factors in weight loss with a mind/body association with weight loss. You know, for years in the 1970's and '80's when I was a psychotherapist and I used to do stress and illness workshops, weight problems were huge back then because, you know, a lot of people would put on weight as a form of padding. They didn't want to feel connected to other people. We learned that people could take in food, you know, take in a lot of food, but they were starving emotionally. We learned that people needed to be touched and hugged, but instead put a block against that and used food as a substitute.

So, I know from being a psychotherapist there's lots of mind/body issues with weight loss. Let me tell you about one of them and that's the differentiation between mouth hunger and stomach hunger.

You know, a lot of us are under stress. I mean, let's face it, I mean, we live in rough times today. I mean, the boss can give us stress. Sometimes you want to kick the cat. The kids can give us stress. We have financial stress, traffic stress; I mean, it's all around us. We can't get away from it. And at times, what do we do? Well, we try to calm ourselves and instead of taking a deep breath and breathing, we may reach for food. We may run to the refrigerator. We get some bad news and we go the refrigerator and we start stuffing ourselves and we're trying to really placate ourselves. It's a maladaptive way of dealing with stress. There's far better ways. But remember this, folks, mouth hunger, a lot of it has to do with our emotions. Stomach hunger means we're really hungry.

So, I want you to differentiate. Are you having mouth hunger where you have to take in something to satisfy a need? Or do you have stomach hunger? If it's stomach hunger, it's legit and by all means, you know, feed yourself. But beware of mouth hunger. It can distract us and it can cause us lots of excess calories.

Okay. How do we deal with stress then? Well, there's lots of ways of dealing with stress. Under stress, I can tell you from all the workshops I've done, we don't breathe. We freeze breathing. People during a traffic situation, Ah, you know. They'll stop breathing. Breathing is one of the best ways of alleviating stress. And how do you do it? If you recognize you're under stress, just try abdominal breathing. Just breathe in, let your hands expand on your abdomen, and breathe out. You know? Just the process of breathing will help you disconnect from the frozenness of being under stress.

You know, when you're under stress, the first thing we'll do is maladapt. We may, you know, fire back at somebody; we may eat something. You know, we maybe retract; we may become a recluse. I mean, there's so many maladaptive ways of dealing with stress.

The best way I like is this: When you're under severe emotional stress, what can you do? Well, think of a period in your life when you had extreme joy. For me, a joyful period in my life was when I was 16 years old and I came down from my bedroom and I was ready to go to high school; I was a junior in high school, and my mother said, "Happy birthday. It's your 16th birthday." And she gave me this heartfelt hug and I felt her love. I felt her unconditional love. And whenever I'm under stress, I think about that moment when I was 16 years old.

So, what I want you to do is to think about moments like that in your life, maybe your first child, maybe your marriage, maybe the first kiss you ever had, whatever it is. You can use that to discharge the stress, because I want you to get away from the stress and, more importantly, I don't want you to use food as a substitute for stress or use food for a substitute for love. Previously I told you that many of us are starving on an emotional level but yet we try to placate ourselves with food; clearly, a maladaptive response.

So, in this segment today, I want you to get that there is an emotional overlay when it comes to taking in food. Try to recognize if this is a part of your process. Additionally, I want you to keep a journal about taking in food. And when you are under stress, are you physically turning off your breathing? Look at yourself. Are you taking in food when you're under stress? If you are, I want you to get away from that maladaptive stream.

Another thing I want you to do is another affirmation. A lot of us who are overweight feel like we're unlovable. Your affirmation today and your take-away today is: I am lovable. That is your affirmation. I want you to get rid of the negative self-talk. You know, don't put yourself down.

Remember, positive intention is one of the best ways of healing the body. So, if you do have a little negative self-talk, erase it out immediately. If you do feel unlovable, I want you to tell yourself you are lovable just the way you are.

And the last thing I want you to do this week is consider being with a pet. If you do have a pet, I want you to pet that pet and to be with that pet more. I want you to connect with your pet.

If you don't have a pet, consider going to a neighbor or a friend and try to connect with their pet; cat or dog are fine. And what I want you to do is I want you to make a connection with the pet. Look into their eyes and take in the feeling that that pet gives you. And that feeling, most of the time, is going to be unconditional love. I want you to take in unconditional love because that's what all of us need and I want you to try to either get closer to a pet. If you don't have a pet, even consider adopting a pet, you know.

Go to one of these homes that have pets that desperately need homes. But this is what I want you to do: Positive affirmation, connect with a pet. If you're feeling the need to be loved or touched and it's difficult for you, even getting a massage at this time is good. Because remember, you're in week five.

By now, most of you have lost at least a few pounds. Some of you may even have lost 10 pounds. So, I want you to pamper yourself and, again, those positive affirmations. The mind/body approach to weight loss is the most difficult of all my pillars. It may bring up tears for you; it may bring up joy for you; it may bring up anger. Whatever it is, whatever the emotion is, let it happen. Don't editorialize, you know, why I'm sad or why I'm angry, but just have the emotion. That's my tip of the day.

Anyway, thanks for listening and I'll see you next time.

More Dr. Sinatra Advice on Weight Loss

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