How to Stop Using Food to Control Your Feelings

Looking for some amazing tips to finally feel full without overeating? Join guest author Anne-Sophie Reinhardt as she shares “How to stop using food to control your feelings.”

Looking for some amazing tips to finally feel full without overeating? Join Anne-Sophie Reinhardt as she shares “How to stop using food to control your feelings.”

When I stripped my diet from all things chemical half a year ago, I had no idea of the ride I was about the take.

For most of my life, I had been drinking liters of diet code every day. I ate fat free yogurt, drank non-fat milk, inhaled low-carb bread and basically polluted my body with all kinds of artificial crap. Over time, I noticed that I was using diet food to control my feelings, fill lazy days and make up for loneliness. I needed low-fat products to fill my empty heart. Two years into my recovery from anorexia, I was still abusing food for fear of being confronted with myself.

howto stop using food to control your feelingsYet, when I went on a 10-day detox, I had no idea how severe all this was. If you’ve ever been on a detox, you know that the first few days are hard. You experience withdrawals, have a headache, feelings of loss and general sadness. No surprise there. But when the feelings of loss continued after the first couple of days, I was taken aback. Suddenly, all kinds of emotions surfaced: I was restless, moody, had a hard time concentrating and was in a state of constant anxiety. I literally felt like I was going crazy and had no idea what to do with myself.

Six months later, my diet is still completely free of chemicals, and my feelings still prevail. Though it has gotten easier, I’m keenly aware of the ways I (ab)use food to deal with life.
Yet while I was dwelling in my own pity at the beginning, I have now found some amazing ways to finally feel full without overeating or feeding my addictions.

Here’s how you can handle your emotions when you’re used to covering them with food:

Purge your thoughts

Having a place to go to when your thoughts are overwhelming you makes all the difference in the world. Whenever you have a hard day, sit and write for a few minutes. It never fails to help cleanse your mind and heal any wounds. Believe me, this figurative sense of purging works miraculously.

Call up a friend

I’m not naturally a person who turns to others. But through my research, I’ve come to see the amazing benefits of intimate friendships on your physical and mental health. Not only can you boost your wellbeing by confiding in others, but you can also interrupt a binge or nasty thoughts by calling up one of your best friends. Make a sacred commitment to a friend to call whenever you feel out of control and then stick to it, even when it feels uncomfortable at first.

Color mandalas

I have many friends who are super artsy and can draw beautifully. I’m not one of them. But coloring mandalas always calms me and diverts my attention and intentions. Everybody can do it, no matter how old or how busy you are. If you have a hard time justifying half on hour of coloring, listen to an audio book or help your kid with homework. You’ll feel more relaxed, focused and will knock your cravings out.

Divert to healthy food

When I just can’t handle the inner stress anymore and I have to eat, I now have plenty of healthy alternatives to my diet coke addiction. I drink green juice (be sure to juice every morning to have a fresh dose of greenness at hand), green smoothies, vegetables, nuts and super dark chocolate. Having only these clean foods at home helps to make sure that when I binge, I binge on yummy healthy food.

Experiment with your own feel-good tools

In the end, it’s totally up to you to use whatever makes you feel good when you are about to abuse food. Experiment with many different self-care tools like crying, working out, singing in the shower, hula-hoop dancing, crafting music playlists, generating ideas for your new home, listening to guided meditations, breathing deeply or taking a bath, to see what helps you most and what gives you that positive boost and interruption of your automatic destructive habits. Creating a list of self-care tools and making it accessible and convenient to grab is key to combat moments of stress and anxiety.

Don’t give up.

Yes, getting rid of your way of using food to control your feelings will suck at first. You’ll have many setbacks and you’ll ask yourself if this is even worth it. It’s important to not give up and instead forgive yourself, giggle and begin again. You’re worth the effort and the freedom you’ll experience once you’ve climbed that mountain will be worth all the hard moments in the world.

Remember that food is your elixir of a healthy, abundant life and not a means of avoiding negative emotions.

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?

I have accepted my body as it naturally is: not tall and lean with beautiful curves, but short and more “robust”. It took 2.5 decades and still continues to be a struggle for me at times, but accepting that my body is beautiful just the way it is, was one of the most rewarding processes of my life. There’s so much joy in being free, accepting who you are and seeing the beauty in your unique, perfectly imperfect body. There’s so much joy in being able to perceive the beauty in others without jealousy, without fear, without judgment. There’s so much freedom in letting go and accepting yourself — completely. My body is my body alone and that’s what makes it so incredibly humbling.

What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?

I appreciate my fighter nature. My life hasn’t been easy (but who can say that for herself?), but I’ve always persevered. I appreciate the wonderful people with whom I get to share my life. I have so many amazing, inspiring and fun friends — something that I’ve always dreamt of and that I’m super grateful for. I love the relationship I have with my mom and sister — it’s so special and has evolved so much over the years.

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?

There are so many, but one of the most empowering achievements was the recovery from anorexia. It was a hard journey, but the freedom pays off every single day.

I’m an ambitious woman, so I have many goals. I want to be a well-known author and public speaker. I want to run workshops and travel the world. I dream of changing the lives of millions of women and leading all of us to a happier, more profound life instead of obsessing about our looks and our weight.

What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?

I’m terribly impatient, quite loud and anything but a clean freak.

How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”

Work and feel so blessed to be doing what I do.

About the author

Anne - Sophie  Reinhardt

Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is a body image expert, self-love advocate and the author of Love Your Body The Way It Is. Join her body-love newsletter and receive bi-weekly notes of inspiration and encouragement that help you to break free from your obsession with food and your body.

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