Home addiction The Cure to Emotional Eating and Other Addictions

The Cure to Emotional Eating and Other Addictions

written by Head Health Nutter July 23, 2008

So when was the last time you scarfed down a bag of chips? Or a whole row (or box) of cookies? We all do it from time to time. Even after conquering my weight issues and replacing many of my unhealthy habits with healthy ones, I still succumb to the odd `Poor Me Eat Fest’.

But why do we do it? Well, yesterday in Metro , Smart Cookies – which is a group of ladies who give advice on frugal living – wrote an article on materialism and how to curb your spending, “Find the perfect day ”. They reviewed an Eckhart Tolle book, A New Earth , which reveals that many people fulfill their basic human needs by consuming things. They become obsessed with obtaining things in attempts to fill or complete themselves.

Now Smart Cookies relates this information to shopping, but any addiction applies whether it’s food, drinking, drugs, entertainment, etc. But what are these basic human needs that we fulfill through our addictions? Tony Robbins identifies them as: certainty, variety, significance, connection and love, growth and contribution.

Both Robbins and Tolle contend, however, that it is impossible to live a fulfilling life if we try to build our identities though `things’. Tolle also suggests that we abuse our `things’ when we use them as a means to self-enhancement. In effect, they are gifts that should be respected and when we use them to feel fulfilled, we dishonour the privilege of owning them.

The point to the article is not what you want but why you want it. When we’re sitting in front of the TV thoughtlessly noshing down on popcorn and gulping down pop, are we consuming to fill our empty stomachs, or are we trying to fill another void in our lives?

Tips and Tricks to Curb Addictions

Robbins says we can fulfill our 6 basic human needs in positive, neutral or negative ways. Positive ways help you to grow as a human being and contribute to the world at large, while the negative means are self-destructive.

So to help you out next time you have an urge to stuff your face, overspend, smoke, drink or get lost in the TV, here a few positive things you can do instead:

  1. Portions. Whether it’s pizza on Friday or your favourite video game, set limits for yourself. And stick to them! Have ONE slice of pizza and a side salad instead of 2 slices, or give yourself an hour of gaming a night rather than the usual 3 or 4.
  2. Be more mindful. Slow down! This is definitely one of my challenges and goals in life. When eating, make certain that you’re relaxed. Take smaller bites and chew your food well. Really roll it around in your mouth and savour every bite. Remember to breathe! You can do this through your nose while munching. Try putting your fork and, if you’re using your hands, food down after taking each bite. And sit up straight, this will help you in breathing and aid your digestion .
  3. Create . Instead of always consuming, try producing! Be the creative genius, you are. Whatever you enjoy doing most, carpentry or cooking, painting, crafts, gardening or even building a computer! Or maybe it’s something that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to it yet. You can create for yourself or others. Which leads me to the next suggestion…
  4. Make money! If you’re being creative and wish to share your work with others, why not monetize it? This way you’ll find another revenue stream that is self-sustainable . Idle hands are the devil’s work, they say. So you can fill those hands with food or shopping bags, or you can be making money to live the life of luxury when you retire.
  5. Healthy habits. The cravings for addictions come and go. When they come, you have a choice to fill that need with the destructive habit or do something constructive. If you can replace the unhealthy habit with a healthy activity, then you will have successfully handled that craving until the next one comes…which will come a little later than the previous one until the cravings dissipate into oblivion. I used this trick to stop smoking and lose a pile of weight. Try exercising, cooking healthy meals, brushing your teeth, grooming, going for a walk outside, drinking water, etc.
  6. Clean and organize your environment. Do you have a closet that causes an avalanche every time you open the door? Have you been neglecting the garage or your home office? Could your life be better or more effective if you cleaned and organized these spaces better? Brainstorm or research on how to do this, get what you need to do it, and then do it!
  7. Help someone. What better way to fulfill the need to contribute than by helping someone? When was the last time you called Mom to see if she needed anything? What about volunteering at the local shelter or a charity event? It could even be as simple as being kind to someone who’s having a bad day or thanking the bus driver for his service.

So what are your suggestions for positive replacements to addictions? Leave them in the comment sections below!

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5 comments

Glenn Palmer July 23, 2008 at 2:04 pm

‘Tolle also suggests that we abuse our `things’ when we use them as a means to self-enhancement.’ Another way of putting this is that we don’t really want the things. Instead, we are really after the the self-image or state of being that we think the possession of those things will give us. Of course, that doesn’t happen, so we think having we just didn’t get enough and try harder.

Reply
Steph July 24, 2008 at 9:56 am

If this is a material world, though, is it really so bad to want material items? I believe that it’s all about balance and focusing on the positive.

When we want things just to make us feel a certain way about ourselves, then it becomes a self-defeating exercise. We will never feel fulfilled if we’re trying to attain it through material means.

But being motivated to acquire things (as long as it’s not determined by greed or ingratitude for things we already have) and to raise the bar for oneself, fail (so we can learn and find a way around the challenges) and succeed are all necessary driving forces for humans.

We feel fulfilled when we challenge ourselves, overcome defeat and achieve our goals. We couldn’t or wouldn’t do this if there wasn’t some sort of reward at the end. The question is, however, what does the reward really do for you? Does it help you be the person you want to be, or contribute to the lives of others? Or does it drive you deeper into a person that you don’t really love and respect?

Reply
Becky January 25, 2010 at 12:35 am

Great list! I just took your advice and decided to brush my teeth rather than eat another muffin! It really did help.

There is a great book that you might be interested in that covers the topic of emotional eating. The book is titled, “Obesity Free Forever:
Losing Weight from the Inside Out” by Georgene Collins. This book helped me get my life back.

Reply
Head Health Nutter January 25, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Your most welcome for the list, Becky, and congratulations on your success! 🙂

Thank you for sharing with us this excellent resource. I’ve bookmarked it – there’s a wealth of information there!

Steph @ Live Lighter.org

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