7 Steps to Stop Emotional Eating

End yo-yo dieting once and for all and regain control of your health.

Posted on | By Tory Johnson
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How Pastor Renee Stopped Her Emotional Eating (2:28)

I’m not a doctor, nutritionist or trainer. I’m an ordinary woman who lost a lot of weight, nearly 80 pounds in two years, after trying and failing at every diet under the sun. I’d fail because I always gave up too quickly. So as I set out on this new journey, one I viewed as mandatory, I realized that what I put in my head would be more powerful than what I put in my mouth. I needed a mental plan to go with my meal plan.

Anyone who wants to lose weight knows she should eat less, move more and cut out foods that have made her gain weight. For me, I chose to strictly limit carbs because there’s no ambiguity.

My mind shift took more creativity, and still does. I was up for the challenge, which sometimes is an hourly struggle, but in the end, the results are worth it.

Here are seven mental tips, that I refer to as the Shift, that work for me:

•       Pause before eating anything.  Ask yourself: preference or priority. The preference is usually cake, cookies or chips, which provides temporary satisfaction. The priority is permanent weight loss. When you choose a temporary fix, you’re moving even further away from your goal. It’s not worth it.

•       Read nutritional labels or check an app. Paying attention to these details, especially the carb count, enables me to make smart food choices.

•       Keep safe snacks on hand. You won’t be tempted to grab anything in sight if you have safe bets at the ready. Sour pickles. Smoked salmon and cream cheese pinwheels. Celery and a teaspoon of peanut butter. Fresh popcorn. Whatever you like to snack on.

•       If tempted to binge, grab nail polish. Yup, applying clear top coat has saved me from countless calories. You can’t stick wet nails into a bag of chips.  Plan ahead with your go-to distraction. Knitting, video games, whatever it is to distract your hands from grabbing food.

•       Seflies are the new scale.  Put old photos on display. Some people are motivated by looking at supermodels in bikinis. For me, there’s nothing like dozens of pictures of my (former) triple chin to stay the course. It’ll be fun to watch yourself improve over time.

•       Weigh yourself daily.  If I’m up, I’m more determined. If I’m down, I’m more motivated.

•       No “cheat” days. For me, rewarding a week of healthy eating with cake and cookies is akin to an alcoholic celebrating a month of sobriety with a few beers. It doesn’t work. It’s easier for me to avoid the stuff that set me down the wrong path.  If you slip, get back on that horse instantly. Day One can always be right now.

In order to make a mental shift, dig deep for the answers to these five questions as they apply to you.  

1) How Fed Up Are You, Really?  

When the pain and possible penalty of being fat outweighed the pain and likely pleasure of changing, I knew I was ready to shift.
 

2) What Are You Willing to Give Up?

For the Shift to work, nothing can be more important than tackling your goal. It’s an all-or-nothing deal, as hard as it sounds. And it is hard, but it becomes easier with time. I gave up various foods, I finally started to exercise and I made lifestyle changes. 

3) What’s Your Plan?

There’s no winging it when it comes to making any significant life change. Spell out clear, concise rules to eliminate any ambiguity. For me, cutting carbs was a big one. No cheat days was another.

4) What’s Your Daily Accountability?

It’s easy to slip when no one is looking. Daily weigh-ins and a wearable trackers still keep me on accountable.

5) How Will You Embrace Patience and Celebrate Victories?  

Whenever I tried to lose weight, I’d always give up because I was too impatient. I wanted instant results. I view the shift not as a diet but as a journey that’s going to take time. My rewards are inedible: lighting a beautiful candle, a quick manicure or smaller size clothing.

This plan was originally created for Dr. Oz's Truth Tube. See how Renee did when she followed these steps. 

Article written by Tory Johnson
New York Times best-selling author and Good Morning America contributor. Visit her site at shiftwithtory.com.