Creating Your Freedom From Emotional Eating

by | Nov 27, 2013 | Life Coaching, Podcast, Wendy Hernandez Blog

Creating Your Freedom From Emotional Eating

Episode 13

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Disclaimer: The materials and content within this podcast are intended as general information only and are not to be considered a substitute for professional legal advice or a consultation with a lawyer.

1. The Inside Track (1:19)

If you have a family law issue, you don’t have to run to court and file a lawsuit right away. You can try and solve your case before you ever go to court, even if you do choose to hire an attorney. By making this attempt to resolve things outside of the courtroom, you will save yourself lots of time, money and stress.


It is this office’s practice to explore whether the legal issues can be solved by first working directly with the other party or attorney without filing paperwork in court. Believe it or not, a lot of times, this is an effective way of resolving conflict. You will save yourself a ton of money in attorney’s fees, too!

2. Creating Your Freedom From Emotional Eating (2:25)

Heather’s Background


Heather Sayers Lehman obtained her Bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, then she obtained her Master’s degree in exercise science. She has worked in the physical therapy and personal training fields. In doing personal training, she found she was doing a lot of health and life coaching. (For about 3 years, Heather owned a personal training studio, and for the past 2 years, she has devoted her energy exclusively to health and life coaching.)


(5:09) Heather has had over 1700 one-on-one coaching sessions with people, and this experience has been a fantastic one for her. It has also been eye opening on what drives human behavior. In doing her coaching, Heather has realized that people don’t always make intellectual decisions. Oftentimes decisions are based upon emotion.


Many Health-Related Decisions are Based on Emotion, NOT Intellect


(6:15) Heather thinks that getting people to buy into the fact that certain health related decisions are not intellectual is a hard sell for some. Some people go through the motions: ”Let me go on this diet because it will change my life.” In many instances the diet doesn’t change the person’s life, then they move onto something else to try to “change their life.”


(7:17) As far as getting healthy, in one hand, you have the benefits, and on the other hand, you have the costs. If the costs are more than the benefits, then you are not going to do it. Sometimes people get unmotivated if the benefits aren’t what they want them to be (like having a killer body). However, there are other benefits to working out than just having a great body – stress management, overall endurance, and its good for your brain chemistry.


The First Step in Getting Yourself Unstuck


(8:02) Heather tries to help people dismantle where they are stuck. There are a lot of fascinating reasons why people aren’t interested in keeping up those healthy habits. While all of these reasons might be emotional, not all of them are deep seated as we might think.


(8:28) As an example, for some people (when they were younger), not all girls were encouraged to go to the gym. Therefore, they grew up their whole lives not being active and suddenly now (in their 50s), someone wants them to go the gym and wear stretchy pants and a tank top.


(8:44) There are different motivating factors. For some people it is a self-worth issue. Others don’t want to go to the gym because there are other people there watching them. And working out is just not important to others; they’d rather get a little extra sleep than go to the gym.


(9:08) You can’t beat yourself up about it if you’d rather have more sleep. Be cool with it. If you really want to go to the gym, then you have to give up that hour of sleep and be OK with it, too.


(9:26) When you make a decision, be committed to it. Don’t feel guilty. Guilt and shame are huge drivers once you get into that cycle because it is almost impossible to make a good decision. We don’t make good decisions from a negative headspace. As an example, you can’t get thin because you hate being fat.


(10:06) People get tripped up when they are operating from a negative headspace in which they are telling themselves “I hate my body. I don’t want to be naked in front of anybody. This is awful.” If this is your paradigm about getting healthy or thin, then getting healthy or thin just isn’t going to happen.


(10:21) If someone wants to start getting into shape, start eating better or have a better body, part of what that person needs to look at is why they haven’t done those things up until now. Sometimes it has been a couple of months and sometimes it has been years. The person needs to ask themselves how they got off track in the first place. Heather likes to look at any particular payoff for being off track.


(11:05) For example if you have a spouse who is constantly nagging you to get into shape, not working out could be a source of control for you/your spouse. Heather wants people to break down the drivers. What has been holding you back? Knowing more about your motivation will help keep you going in the long run. Figuring out what you have perceived as your obstacles will also help as a first step.


Emotional Eating is a Coping Mechanism


(12:33) Why do we do emotional eating? For different reasons. The overall reason is that it is a coping mechanism. Food is an easy mechanism because of its accessibility. There are no negative connotations generally associated with eating (like there might be with drinking or smoking). You can do it while sitting at your desk, and no one will blink an eye.


(13:29) Drinking, smoking, eating, shopping and gambling are all coping mechanisms. Generally, people go to these because they don’t want to feel what they are feeling. Sometimes these feelings could be loneliness or boredom.


(14:47) Emotional eating really can be because someone is anxious, sad, angry, resentful, lonely, etc. It generally presents as a kind of discomfort. If you feel uncomfortable and need a snack…it could be emotional eating.


How to Deal With Emotional Eating when Emotional “Hunger” Strikes


(15:37) Ideally, we should eat when we are hungry. When we are eating when we are not hungry, food is never the answer, because hunger is not the issue. If you can get at the root, there are coping skills. Watercoloring? Knitting? Taking a walk? Gardening? Finding something more engaging and at a spirit/soul level is helpful.


(16:20) Boredom is an issue for a lot of people who have boring jobs. For these people, Heather suggests (depending on the environment) putting on headphones or taking small breaks for walks. If you are tethered to your desk and can’t do these things, at some point it becomes a method of reframing.


(17:23) For example, Heather works alone. Sometimes it gets boring. When she has to do things she doesn’t want to, she wants to pull her hair out. If she wants to have a snack, she has to really tell herself that she’s not hungry. So ask, “Am I hungry?” If you’re not hungry, try to figure out what you really are feeling.


(18:18) Reframing about things like payday helps. Think about the fact that you get paid helps with bills, paying for your kids’ activities, gets you groceries, etc. Don’t buy into the fact that everyday is a carnival in which you need to eat.


(19:12) Most people deal with emotional eating at some point in their lives. Food is a tough one. If you drink for emotional reasons and become an alcoholic, to recover, you abstain from alcohol. You can’t really abstain from food. Not only that, but times have really changed as far as the availability of fast food, easy food and fun food.


Emotional Eating Affects Everyone at Certain Points in Life


(19:46) Now people view food as entertainment and as a hobby. Many and most people turn to food because it is easy, tasty, and for a few, fleeting moments it does make you feel better. Nowadays, people are choosing different foods to eat then they did in the past.


(22:00) Heather has two pre-teen boys, and she observes things getting very confused when the boys practice or play a game, and the “rewards” sessions afterward. Parents don’t want to be the “bad guys” by bringing juicy peaches rather than cupcakes, cinnamon rolls, etc.


(22:28) The sugars in today’s “treats” are addicting. It is physiological. When Heather herself has artificial sweeteners, she wants more food. The “sweet” is not followed up by the calories, causing less satisfaction and more hunger.


(23:38) What people are eating throughout their day makes a big difference in terms of what they might be craving later in the day. “Salt, Sugar, Fat” is a great book on how the food manufacturing industry chemically manipulates products so they are optimally addictive. Studies are done on what excites your brain, because that is what you are going back to for food.


(24:54) As the holidays begin and you start having these treats, you will notice that your cravings for sweets or fatty things will increase. The more you have of these things, the more your receptors are saying “THAT WAS AMAZING.”


Stop Emotional Eating by NOT Thinking About Food!


(25:36) As far as her coping mechanisms, Heather tries not to talk about food as much because people love talking about food. Heather used to listen to a lot of talk about cutting carbs, etc. However, it isn’t necessarily about the food. Truly, it is the coping that is more important than the food part.


(27:00) If someone loses weight on a diet, after 5 years, 98% of those people will have gained back all of the weight plus 10%. Everybody loves dieting, though. Coping mechanisms aren’t very sexy, exciting and they don’t promise “flat abs in 30 days.” However, these coping mechanisms are relief from the oppressive emotions you are feeling.


(27:52) Pause before you eat and ask “Am I hungry?” It takes almost 3 months for people to get into touch with their hunger cues because they eat by the clock. Listen to your body. What is your stomach telling you? If it is telling you are hungry, eat something. If you aren’t hungry, look at what you are. Angry? Lonely? Nervous? Bored?


(29:00) This might be a lot of work for people. We treat sadness with food. We treat celebration with food. It is not very culturally popular to tap into emotions.


(29:35) The more you can hone in on what it is, the more you can construct some effective coping mechanisms so you don’t need to eat.


(29:52) Once a person identifies the emotional reason they want to eat, s/he needs to ask what s/he can do with the feeling. Would it be helpful to journal? Would therapy help? Kickboxing? Reframing the story? In Heather’s course called “Creating Your Coping Toolkit,” these things come into play. We can choose how to look at the “light” side of a “situation.”


(31:45) Heather is a big output person. It is important to get into touch with how you feel, then put something “out.” Express your feelings, and you will be better off.


(32:43) Part of the issue of doing this work is the fact that it is “work.” It takes practice to remind yourself to change the way you look at things. If you don’t, you could fall into the victim role, then it is hard to make good choices.


(33:38) In some cases, people do need professional help to deal with emotional eating. Therapy is a great thing. Heather went through therapy before, during and after her own divorce 8 years ago. Left alone to her own devices, Heather can be her own worst enemy. It is good to have “a professional” to help look at things a different way.


(34:58) You can find Heather at She does seminars, one-on-one coaching, e-courses and life coaching.

3. Thoughts From the Life Coach (35:58)

DO NOT MISS today’s thoughts from James. They may be the best thoughts ever. Hard to describe AND hard to top. Check it out!

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