I’ve done a lot of work over the last couple of months on removing the taboos of food rules, food restrictions, and food labels…..which helps remove “some” of the emotion from eating….and has helped me remove feelings of anxiety surrounding meal planning, what I’m going to eat next, what I can eat, and guilt, etc.
While continuing to keep that at the front of my mind, I am now also working on the situations that bring food to the forefront for me, the emotional ties. A good acronym that my Emily Program dietitian taught me is H.A.L.T which stands for” Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired” I started practicing asking myself that every time I thought about having a snack or a meal..and writing it down in my meal log along with the food.
Well, lo and behold…it pretty much started working right away! I can’t believe that an extra little step like that, just asking myself why I wanted to eat…but not judging myself on the answer…helped me make better eating decisions. Its important not to judge on the answer…otherwise that can bring emotion right back into the mix.
During my first week of practicing H.A.L.T, I stopped snacking on the fun size candy bars in my office drawer. I know they are there and I can have them if I feel like it. But, every time I wanted one I asked myself why. Usually it was an emotional answer. Note: even if my answer doesn’t fall in “A, L, or T” those categories help me determine if my answer is emotional or an actual nutritional need.
One of those times I actually answered “Hunger” but instead of going right for a candy bar I asked myself, “why am I hungry, am I missing a food group, what am I hungry for?” It actually turned out that I was a bit low on protein for the day after thinking about it and I grabbed a snack pack of tuna instead!
Another bit of an emotional episode this weekend caused me to want to drive straight to the closest Dairy Queen, McDonald’s or any place I could for a big frozen treat. But, I stopped myself…asked HALT? The answer came back as “angry and tired”….I acknowledged my feelings, thought about how food wouldn’t solve them, and talked myself into going straight home and getting comfy in bed and enjoy some TV! I followed through with my plan, but about every 5 minutes I had to tell my brain to stop drifting back to my old “ice cream!’ response and to come back to the “you need comfort of home and sleep” response. It worked!
This is not to say that going for an ice cream treat is a bad thing, this is just saying in this situation it was for the wrong reason. I can have ice cream even if I’m not filling a nutritional or hunger need….but I absolutely do not want a treat if I’m filling a negative (or sometimes even positive) emotional need!!
I love ice cream 🙂 Its in my freezer, I could have had it when I got home, too..but I didn’t…because its not what I needed. I fell asleep right away when I got comfy in my bed and I felt so much better the next morning!
Now that I’m really in the flow with HALT and I’m going to keep that up along with losing the food rules…we’re working on The Hunger Discovery Scale for my next session….how hungry are you before you eat…and after….and what part of the ranges are good to stay in. I’ll come back with a report in a couple weeks 🙂