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Weight Loss Tips: Conquer Emotional Eating


Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Angela!

I’ve been thinking a lot about all the stress that we’ve been under with the lockdowns. Consequently, I’ve been seeing patients in my office and there’s been a lot of stress eating and stress drinking going on.

And so I wanted to address that today.

If you don’t already know me, I’m a medical weight loss specialist in Olympia, Washington, and I have a program called Journey Beyond Weight Loss, which is an online course and membership where I help people learn how to lose weight and more importantly, develop the skills they need to keep it off. So that’s what we’re all about here is learning how to stop dieting and learning how to really start to address some of these other issues.

I’ve got patients who’ve told me, you know, that 90% of their eating decisions are based on their emotional state of being and not on whether they’re physically hungry or not. And so what we want to do is to try to reverse that. Right? We want it to be so that 90% of your eating decisions are based on nourishing your body! And maybe you’ve got a little bit of emotional stuff, but for the most part, you’re doing a pretty good job of just nourishing your body. So in order to do that, I teach something called the Emotional Scale. I wanted to show that to you.

It’s right here, (see video) and this is a tool that we use in Journey Beyond Weight Loss. I’m going to go through the emotional scale with you today. I’m going to show you how I use it and what you can do in order to get control of your emotions so that you’re not eating over them.

So the emotional scale runs from the bottom down here. I don’t think you can probably read this very well. It’s depression and despair and powerlessness. That’s the lowest form of emotional state. And then the highest form of emotional state is love and appreciation and joy. Sort of like the ‘ecstatic state.’ Now, many people use drugs to get here. I don’t recommend that! I just want to say that right now. What we want to do is we want to figure out where we are on this scale. And then I’ll go through all the rest of these emotions, figure out where you are, and then move yourself up. And really all you have to do is move yourself up a little bit, and that’s going to give you enough relief that you don’t have to go for the food!

The first step up, there’s depression, despair, fear, and grief, guilt and unworthiness. Now a lot of people, especially if they have been emotionally eating, really struggling with food, they go down here to guilt pretty easily. So that’s one of the things that I really work with people on is helping not do that. Helping them recognize that’s just going to make it worse. So don’t let yourself go down to guilt and shame.

Up from guilt comes jealousy. And then there’s hatred and revenge. Blame and anger, doubt and worry, frustration, overwhelmed, stress, pessimism and boredom. A lot of people are feeling pretty bored right about now.

Then here’s the dividing line. Those are all the negative emotional States down here. And then here’s the dividing line after boredom and in comes contentment. So contentment, satisfaction, just feeling satisfied. Like you’re not high ecstasy, but you’re just sort of happy, right? There’s optimism and hope. There’s belief. Now, when you’re in the state of belief, you sort of feel that the outcome is assured. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s assured. And then when you get to knowing you are experiencing the outcome that you want. So knowing – there’s a knowing that this is the way it is. So the difference between belief and knowing is huge. And then you get passionate about what you’re up to and then you’re hard to miss, right? And then you’re in love and appreciation and joy.

Now, no person is ever going to live in love, appreciation, and joy all the time. And hopefully, no person is ever going to live down here all the time. We’re usually somewhere in a mix of emotions. And so what we want to do is we want to start noticing when we are wanting to grab food and we know that our body is not physically hungry.

How are you going to know if your body is not physically hungry? Well, what you do is you plan your meals ahead of time and then if you’re eating off plan, then you know you’re probably eating emotionally. So that’s the first thing you want to do is to really focus on planning your meals ahead. And then when you do find that you’re wanting to eat for emotional reasons, sit down with this chart and figure out what emotion you’re feeling.

Is it anxiety? A lot of us are feeling anxious right now. Maybe we’re worried about our parents who are older and are they going to get Covid-19. If they do get it, are they going to survive? That sort of thing. A lot of us are feeling pretty bored right now. So maybe it’s boredom and all you have to do is to find a way to move yourself up just a little bit. You don’t even have to get all the way up into the positive emotional states just to move up a little bit so that you feel enough.

So so let me show you how I did this. I’m going to use an example of my daughter. My daughter is now 30, but three years ago when she was 27, she decided to hike the continental divide trail. Now the continental divide trail goes through the Rocky mountains. She went from Canada to Mexico through the Rocky mountains, very high elevation. She had already hiked the Pacific Crest Trail before. The Pacific Crest Trail for people who do this sort of thing it’s pretty wild! It is sort of like a training ground for the Continental Divide Trail. So at least that’s my understanding of it.

On the Pacific Crest Trail, there were always lots of people. And on the continental divide trail, you can go for days and days without seeing another soul. There are grizzly bears, there are drop-offs, there are insecure water sources. Resupply towns are hard to find. Sometimes there’s a lot that can happen and that can go wrong on the continental divide trail. And I’m her mother. So where do you suppose I was? I was in almost a chronic state of worry about her! And I was getting into what I call my edible drugs of choice. So I’m here in doubt and worry and what were my edible and drinkable drugs of choice? Well, for me it’s chocolate and red wine!

I was doing a lot more red wine and chocolate and I thought to myself, you know what? This is going to be going on for five months. I can’t change her. I can’t change the situation. I have to change the way I think so that I have a better emotional response to this. So I actually wrote down all the thoughts I was thinking and I wrote down some other thoughts that I COULD think. So I wrote down the thoughts. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, she’d get mauled by a grizzly bear.’ ‘She could run out of water’ ‘she could fall off a cliff and die.’ So all of those things. And then I thought of all the other kinds of thoughts I could think. Like ‘my daughter knows what she’s doing.’ ‘My daughter loves the outdoors.’ ‘She lives for this stuff.’ ‘My daughter does search and rescue and she’s got a wilderness first responder and she’s not going to do anything stupid.’ And you know, ‘she’s a pro out there.’ ‘She’s going to see things that the rest of us are never going to get to see.’ ‘She’s going to have such an incredible sense of pride and accomplishment.’ ‘I am so proud of my daughter.’.

Well, I can’t be worried about my daughter and proud about my proud of my daughter at the same time, Right? So all of those thoughts, if I choose to think those thoughts instead, they’re going to move me up here into optimism and hope and belief and knowing in her wellbeing. And so that’s how you do it. I don’t have to eat when I’m thinking those thoughts. I don’t have to drink a bunch of wine when I’m thinking those thoughts. I just think the thoughts that make me feel good. That’s how you do this.

Now, there’s, there’s a lot of ways to use the scale, there’s a lot of different emotions. I want you to know I’m just giving you an introduction here, and that there’s a lot more to this, Okay? I’m going to be opening up Journey Beyond Weight Loss in a few weeks. I just want you to be aware of that and I hope you’ll join me because if you really want to get a handle on your weight and your weight struggles, and you really want to get healthy again, it takes a lot more than just going on a diet. It just does. It takes a lot more than that. It takes a lot more thinking.

And so if you’re ready for that, I want you to recognize that you do have this opportunity coming up soon. In the meantime, what you can do is to click on the link and download my free guide “Conquer Emotional Eating Even During a Crisis.” If you’re already on my email list, you already received it. But if you’re not already on my email list, then you can get it that way. And you can get notified when we’re ready to open Journey Beyond Weight Loss.

I hope that I’ll see you there. I hope you take care and have a great evening. Bye. Bye.

To your health!

Dr. Angela


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