7 Rules To Stop Emotional Eating At Night

by Jackie Wicks

1.    You’ve Got To Clean The Junk Out Of The House

I’ve heard – but I can’t do this, I have teenage boys in the house!  Or, why be such a zealot, I can just learn to have a small portion and still enjoy myself.  Or I love food and no one can make me do this!!  You’re absolutely right.  I can’t make you do this and this is all up to you. 

You have a choice.  You can keep doing what you’ve been doing for the last 20 years or you can make some changes and get a different result.  The truth is, you can have a house junk free even with teenagers in the house.  Your teenager will still love you if there are no cookies in the house (or will still argue with you, still throw fits). 

This is a choice.  You can do this.  When there is junk in the house, the emotional eating binge becomes VERY EASY.  Almost effortless.  You need to make it a little harder on yourself.  Especially at 2 am in the morning.  Many of you have insomnia and sleeping problems.  No shocker there.  Sleep problems can start at a very young age when it was a struggle with your parents and you could always get them to let you stay up just a little bit later.  Or you’re drinking too much caffeine during the day and the stress is taking over.  

If it’s easy to eat junk, you’ll eat it at 2 am in the morning
.  If it’s hard, it will make it that much harder.  The other day I was talking to a client who eats after dinner and I asked, what are you eating and she said, I start off with a square of unsweetened chocolate, then I move to a large Lindt bar of dark chocolate and then I start on the cheese.  I said what kind of cheese?  She answered, “Oh, I have the best cheese in the world.”  There was pride and delight in her answer.  She has every kind of cheese she can think of and it’s all there right when she needs it most, when she’s trying to stuff down her emotions. 

You have to mix up your patterns.  A tough fight with your husband means your favorite bag of sour cream and onion potato chips that sits “right there’ on the counter.  In your mind, this has become as absolute as the concept of 1+2 =3.  It’s almost as etched in your mind as solid as mathematics.  Fight with husband + potato chips on counter = a typical night in the household.  The only way to make a different variable is to change the variable.  And the easiest way you have at your disposal to change that variable is to GET RID OF IT.  GET RID OF IT. 

I’ve been told I’m harsh from therapists.  You can’t get a patient to let go of something and not give them a replacement is what I am told.  I will be giving you replacements in rule #4.   I’m not telling you to not have food. I’m telling you to GET RID OF THE JUNK.   Even Dr. Andrew Weil, in his book 8 Weeks to Optimal Health has you strip your entire cupboard and refrigerator of all partially hydrogenated oils, and corn syrup and a variety of other “bad foods”.  What you don’t have in your house, essentially, what you don’t see, you won’t have. Remember your mind sometimes, is an easy thing to understand:  whatever it focuses on, it gets.  

Anthony Robbins gives a great example of this. His analogy is that our mind is like a camera.  It takes pictures.  And those pictures become the memory.  Let’s say you go to a party and your mind sees a couple fighting.  You go home, and you think, wow, people really weren’t having a good time.  Your mind took a picture, it focused on the people fighting and that became your impression of the party.  Now if you go to the party and you see 2 people getting it on the corner, you go home and you say, “Wow, that was a hot party!! People were REALLY getting along! ” Again, that’s what you took a “picture” of with your “mind” camera.

Whatever you see, this becomes your entire impression of life.  If you’re always seeing cupcakes and potato chips and triple crème cheese in your house, you’re going to eat it. Why wouldn’t you?  It tastes good and you LOVE it.  But have you ever found yourself really feeling good and strong and happy about your choices and then, suddenly, you pass by a chocolate croissant and you can’t stop thinking about it? You weren’t thinking about it before.  You only thought about it because you saw it!   And then you couldn’t get it out of your mind. 

There is a chance that you’re on your emotional binge at times in your home simply because you SAW it.  It became your focus.  Time TO GET RID OF THE JUNK in your home.   Discipline is key and we all have it and we all exhibit a great deal of it but I want to ask you a question: life is already hard at times and requires courage and discipline every day of your life.  Why make it even harder on yourself by having junk food around, all the time, at your fingertips? 

You may be thinking, yes, I get this but I’m not going to be able to convince my husband to do this.  Thanks, but this is just not helpful.  I deeply understand this frustration.  When we first got married, Habib would not stop bringing Entenmanns coffee cake and pints of vanilla chocolate swirl into the house no matter how much I begged, cajoled and pleaded.  He said, “This is your problem and you’re trying to STARVE ME.  “You just don’t understand insane man hunger“.

I never stopped asking.  And bit-by-bit, he stopped bringing it in the house.  One thing at a time.  I started to buy pretzels because pretzels were never a weakness of mine, I never even wanted one and he’d start to eat them instead.     It took a long time – over 2 years – for him to understand how important this was but he finally did.  I could have given up so many times and there was a lot of anger inside me.  How could he not understand how badly I needed this? 

In our emotional eating mini course we talk a lot about Daniel Goldman, author of Emotional Intelligence.  He talks about empathy.  Steven Covey talks about “seeking to understand’.  When you seek to understand, you can get what you need.  Instead of staying in my anger of “how could he not understand”, I started asking questions and I sought to understand. His dilemma was that he was hungry. And he needed quick access food.  And if he had pineapple and cantaloupe cut up, he’d eat that too.  He was also resentful that I always seemed to have food for the children but his food needs seemed to be last priority. 

Once I started to understand this and he started to see efforts towards his needs, he began to understand my needs.  This might be different in your house but there’s sometimes a deeper issue that can be addressed that can bring you both to an understanding and get you both what you need.  And what you need is to GET RID OF THE JUNK!!!

You may also like

Leave a Comment