Brianna shares her story of emotional eating, how it affected her and how she managed to combat it.
She shares her tips for avoiding emotional eating as well as how to combat it in the moment.
How To Combat Emotional Eating-Interview with Brianna Wilkerson, Founder of Made Well 345
Are you struggling with emotional eating especially during holidays?
Emotional eating can affect your overall health and well-being.
Emotional eating has hidden roots to be addressed but it’s very possible to combat It.
Transcript of Steps to Combat Emotional Eating With Brianna Wilkerson
Hello and welcome to fit and fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena Kerek.
I cannot believe it is nearly Christmas. How has this happened? Although 2020 has been an extraordinary year. I can't quite believe that we're nearly at the end of it. So I just thought It would be a good idea to just have our last podcast on emotional eating. We're about to enter the holiday season where I think there's a lot of danger of emotional eating.
I'm super excited to welcome Brianna Wilkerson in. She is the Founder of Made Well 345. She's a health and life coach, and she is going to talk to us about emotional eating. As I say, this is the last session this year, I'm going to take a break next week to be with my family and enjoy some overindulging. And just spend some quality family time together.
I will be back at the beginning of January where we will be thinking about a challenge. I was thinking of doing something like the chickpea challenge. I have to confess, I haven't a hundred percent decided what it is. I normally start January with an easy challenge. So I'll let you know about that at the beginning of January.
We can think about what we are going to do. In the meantime, I have a few complimentary coaching sessions available 30 minutes. A few of them have already gone and they are for mothers. So if you are a mother and you would like 2021 to be a year of health and wellness and turning it around. Or you would want to reach your health and wellness goals, then come and chat to me.
We will be thinking about what it is that you specifically want to achieve in 2021, both for you and your family. If you'd like to take me up on one of those sessions, then email me either reply to one of my emails or email me at [email protected]
Have a fabulous holiday and enjoy today's podcast!
Dr. Orlena: Brianna, welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena Kerek.
Brianna: Hello. So good to be here.
Dr. Orlena: Thank you so much. Just tell me where you are in the world right now.
Brianna: I am in Tampa, Florida, where it is sunny out and it's a little chilly. I mean, not as chilly as probably where you are. It's like 65, but chilly for me.
Dr. Orlena: I have no idea what 65 is, but I can guarantee you, it's chilly here. We live just about an hour North of the Pyrenees mountains and although it gets sunny in the daytime, If I go and stand on my roof, I can see the snow on the mountains.
Brianna: Wow. That's amazing. It's beautiful.
Dr. Orlena: It is beautiful but when the wind blows from the north it could be chilly.
Brianna: And silly...
Dr. Orlena: Today we are going to talk about emotional eating. I'm super excited for this conversation because I know it affects some people far more than other people.
The reality is we all do emotional eating of one form or another. It's just so inherent in our society that we do it without really noticing. So can we start by jumping in and you telling us your story?
Brianna: I think, growing up, I'm originally from the Cayman islands in the Caribbean so, 65 degrees doesn't happen there. It's always, the coldest is like 75, but growing up, I just was kind of overweight as a child I guess, but I didn't really care about. It was not that I didn't care about my health. It just wasn't something that we did in my family.
When I started playing sports is when I started really kind of watching what I ate and tried to be more conscious and looked into nutrition. But then a hurricane hit came in. It does in the Caribbean often and this one was a really big one that just kind of changed things in our lives. We had to go away back to, we moved to Florida for a month as our house got redone. Luckily it was just like house damage, but my friends went away for school.
Brianna: It was during high school. So at the time it just felt there's a lot of things outside of my control and I just want to control something. So what I chose to do is let me control how much I eat and how much I exercise and was dealing with all these emotions.
I over exercised and under ate. So I really developed a poor relationship with food where I was afraid of eating. Now fast forward to the high school where I was just really stressed out. I was up to be valedictorian. I just felt like, everyone is even saying this, “you work so hard, keep going on”, but school so hard. And I did the opposite and I went to food for comfort and I became an overeater. So I gained back all the way, even though some of it was needed.
I was definitely way too small for my body structure, but then food became full, it became something that I feared.
You know, just kind of going back and forth with, is food a friend? is food a foe? Is that something that gives me comfort? Is it something that I don't want? I went on all of these diets.
Brianna: Eventually, in college where I actually just really reconnected with my faith and really understanding my worth that I started to see, it's actually my worth is not in what I do or how I look or all these things. And slowly over time, I just made a decision where I'm going to go about taking care of my body and restoring my relationship with food.
One small step at a time, I'm not going to try to lose weight. I'm just going to be healthy. And of course I lost weight because I did the healthy habits that would get my body there.
Brianna: But along the way, I just really started to see that food freedom is a very big thing. Emotional eating is something that a lot of women struggle with, as you're saying, or you men struggle with it. And we do it for a variety of reasons. We do it for comfort.
We do it for just to celebrate. What's the first thing we do when something we want to celebrate, we have a party, we have food, which is great. Again, that can be complicated for some people. And so I just really started to see that my emotional eating story wasn't just my story. It was a story that other women struggle with.
And so I became a health coach with Institute for Integrative Nutrition and for the last four and a half, nearly five years have been coaching women to ditch diet. To lose weight that last, but ultimately find peace with food and their body and themselves. That's a little bit about me.
Dr. Orlena: I love it. I think what, there are so many things that resonate with your story. But one thing that I really love is you've got to peace with yourself and started saying, "I'm going to put my body first". I'm going to start looking after my body. Another thing that really resonates is the ditching of the diet and just breaking a way of enjoying food, but not over enjoying.
Dr. Orlena” So I guess my question is what's your definition of emotional eating?
Brianna: I think emotional eating can be described in a bunch of different ways. I would say the simplest way is that when we eat to cope with some sort of emotion, and then emotion doesn't necessarily have to be a bad emotion. Again, it could be a good emotion, but more often than not, it's an emotion such as stress, boredom, anger, tiredness.
There’s just a lot of emotions where you're spent and you're just kind of overwhelmed. It's different than eating when you're hungry, though it's tending to go to food for some sort of comfort or some sort of consolation. And you will either do it subconsciously or consciously. So sometimes you just go to the wake up in the morning, I go to the cabinet and I'm like, am I hungry? I just noticed the first thing I do is eat in the morning and whatever. So sometimes you do it subconsciously or consciously.
Brianna: I think emotional eating, people tend to correlate it with overeating or binge eating, but that's not always the case. You can be an emotional eater and just have a small piece of cake when you're tired, but you're not necessarily overeating. More often than not for people, it's overeating to the point where they feel very stuffed and uncomfortable. So many definitions but at the end of the day, you're trying to cope with some sort of emotion.
Dr. Orlena: Yeah, I love it. I think I know mine is boredom and I mid morning snack. I don't really need a mid morning snack. I eat my mid morning snack and have more coffee because I've done a little bit of work and then I'm like, "Oh, there's this thing that I don't really want to do."
I'm going to put it off a little bit by hanging out the washing and having a coffee and not getting off the job from my list. I think everyone does it to bigger or less lesser degrees. And it's sort of inherent in society. As you say, when we celebrate, we have parties. I don't know about you, but here in Spain, oh my goodness! you go to a party and it's just sweets and candy and cakes, right? Like absolutely zero. I'm talking about a kid's body, zero healthy food.
Dr. Orlena: What about common causes and triggers of emotional eating?
Brianna: I think it always depends on the individual. Some common triggers would be emotions such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, loneliness, worry. And often, these emotions concur in our day-to-day life. Over time they become strong and we just want to find comfort in some way.
Brianna: Everyone's triggers are different that's why it's very important to figure out what your triggers are. Some questions that I tend to ask clients are really just taking stock of. Sometimes we don't want to see this, but you have to see:
Basically, take stock whenever you eat and just cast no judgment on yourself. Then you're still going to start seeing a pattern for you uniquely, but often more likely than not. There's some sort of situation or thought or even your own thoughts can do this. That’s really triggering you to want to cope through food. Again, it can be a healthy food, but you're still emotionally eating. And so that's what we want to get to. We just want to figure out the root of what's causing it then we can address what's going on.
Dr. Orlena: Fabulous. How do you advise people to prevent and to stop it from happening in the first place?
Brianna: So in the moment, you just really want to go and eat that piece of candy. Again, nothing wrong with eating a piece of candy. That's not caching here, but it's when you're doing it and it's not serving you because you're continually doing it.
Brianna: So in the moment you could easily do something like call a friend and or someone who, you know, like, listen, I'm just going to text you or call you. Well, you feel like doing this or you can go for a walk.
Removing yourself from the situation is really helpful. More often than not, if you remove yourself, especially go for a walk, clear your mind, even if it's five minutes. You're going to start to be like, "oh, you come back." And you're like, "I actually don't want to eat because I've realized now I just needed to get some space, have some distractions on hand."
Maybe you play some songs. Maybe you look at pictures of your loved ones or a mantra. You say some affirmations to your pet. Like maybe if you have this cute little dog, just go play with your dog for a little bit. Your dog usually will make you feel nice and warm inside.
Brianna: Drinking a glass of water is actually really important. Sometimes you are thirsty and you're dehydrated and your body will want something and you confuse it to think, okay, I should eat sugar. Your body's actually, just want you a glass of water.
Brianna: Then practice the halt method where if you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, ask yourself those four simple questions. If you're hungry enough to go and eat, I say steamed fish and steamed broccoli, which is delicious. But if you're not like, say with no spices, then you know, you're hungry because you don't care about how it tastes like. You just want to eat and then you should eat something.
But if not, if you're like, "oh, I don't know if I actually really want a meal maybe, or even a snack, I just kind of want some into like quench this little craving I have." And it's like, okay, well what else is going on. And then ultimately you can just wait 10 minutes, like put a timer on your phone and distract yourself and say, if after 10 minutes, I want this I'm going to have it. You could do that. Those are some of the things in the moment that you can do things like proactively in the future.
Brianna: They're similar to managing your stress. If you know that stress or even certain emotions like boredom, or any of that is really going to send you over the edge to emotionally eat, what are some other things that you can do?
Brianna: Deep breathing, walks, stretching, whatever. Sometimes being social, I would say, especially during the pandemic for many reasons. Many people are definitely still quarantined because they have to, or they feel more comfortable.
Well, what are some ways you can still be social? You might not be going out, but you know technology, we're in a pandemic now. Where a hundred years ago, and they were having the "crack that pandemic" there wasn't whatsapp or internet either. Call friends, call families just still somehow be social. I've done like zoom double dates with like other couples.
Brianna: Getting enough sleep, this is very important. I know that when I am tired, I do not want an apple. I do not want some vegetables, even though they're delicious. I don't want to have a cuddle. What I want is something that is like, quick tasty. It'll just make me feel good and make my energy spike. But the reality is it'll spike and then you'll drop. So really getting some sleep, maybe the first thing for you.
Brianna: Being active, of course, moving our body. When your body moves more, it will crave good food. I keep telling people during the holidays in particular, get active. Cause I'm telling you when I'm active during the holidays, I make better food choices cause I'm like, I got to go for a run later. I'm not going to go and eat all this cause I'm going to like feel it in my tummy.
Brianna: Then also like rewarding yourself. And this is what I think, obviously don't try not to reward yourself with food. If you really like for a whole week, you're like, “wow, I didn't really give into any cravings”, sleep in or go get a massage, whatever.
I love doing this with clients, just saying, take some time to say "yes, great job!". Because far too often, as women in particular, we are trying to reward ourselves after we've reached the goal versus the small steps along the way. So that's some couple of strategies in the moment and also to prevent it in the future.
Dr. Orlena: I love it. So many strategies and I love the broccoli tip. I always say to my kids, there's no such thing as being hungry overly for chocolate and they disagree with me, but it's so true, isn't it. If you're genuinely hungry, you'll eat carrot stick or something plain. So fabulous. That's an amazing amount of tips for us and halt, was it hungry, angry, lonely, and tired.
Brianna: Yes. That's what it is.
Dr. Orlena: Perfect. Fabulous. You've given us so much information in such a short period of time. Where can people find more about you?
Brianna: If you want to learn more about this, even this was a summary, I actually did around five or six podcasts episodes on my podcast: sustainable weight loss podcast, just on emotional eating and some more on food freedom. I have a Facebook group. That's where I am the most, The Healthy and Sustainable Weight Loss Community. And then I have a freebie called The Food Freedom Journal, which really kind of gets into the mindset portion.
So I definitely talk about the practical things here around emotional eating. What is your relationship with diets, the scale and food, your body and yourself because that's going to impact your emotional eating or eating in general. You can find that. I'll send the link here. That's another freebie that you can access there.
Dr. Orlena: Thank you so much.
Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/restartyourhealthcommunity345
Email: [email protected]
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Dr Orlena Kerek (MBChB from the University of Bristol, UK) trained as a pediatric doctor. She is now a family health coach. She helps busy mums who want to feel amazing by eating healthy food. So they can enjoy a healthy life, get back into their honeymoon shorts and teach their kids healthy habits. All without thinking about it.
If you want a healthy family and healthy lifestyle without having to think about it. And you'd like help, book a 30 minute "Healthy Life Roadmap" call here.