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What They Are And Ways To Break Them
Sad? Depressed? Stressed? Angry? Nervous? Bored? Lonely? Afraid? Embarrassed? These are all examples of common EMOTIONS that we might feel from time to time. We might get mad at our self (a negative emotion) if we slip up on our diet or when we cave to a craving. Or, we might get upset if we don't follow our exercise plan. Sound like you?
Sometimes, to stop a negative emotion, we use food to make our self feel better. Eating makes us feel better, but only temporarily. Then the negative emotion returns and we eat more. This becomes a VICIOUS CIRCLE. (Another name for this is VICIOUS CYCLE). We can experience many vicious circles at one time. YIKES! What can we do to break our vicious circles?
Here are examples of COMMON OVEREATING VICIOUS CIRCLES with suggestions for breaking each circle.
COMFORT EATING VICIOUS CIRCLE 1 (Comfort Eating is using food to soothe a feeling or emotion like when you are bored, stressed, or sad.) This Vicious Circle is about eating to make yourself feel better when you are sad or upset. You keep eating, then you gain more weight. This makes you even sadder, so you comfort eat even more. The cycle repeats and repeats, until it becomes a vicious cycle. Eating lots of sweet, soothing foods, like ice cream, cake, or chocolate, is a sign of comfort eating. Typically, comfort eating is mindless, you don't even realize you are doing it in the moment.
Here is an example: You feel sad so you eat candy to make yourself (temporarily) feel better. Then you feel bad because you ate all the candy. Then you eat more candy to cover up your feelings of being sad and the cycle repeats. Each time you have an uncomfortable emotion you keep turning to food (candy) to comfort yourself and eventually it becomes a habit. It gets more difficult to stop using food for comfort the more you use food to cope. Eventually, the habit is automatic and difficult to stop.
Ways to break it: Before you eat something, write down in a food diary how you feel (your emotion). Next to it, write down what you eat. This helps you visualize what you are actually doing. If you feel sad and you eat something sweet or creamy each time, you are likely COMFORT EATING. Figure out other DISTRACTIONS to do instead, like call a friend, get a pet, or volunteer at a soup kitchen or animal shelter. The next time you experience that emotion, instead of eating, look in your diary and do one of the distractions you listed. Getting your mind off of eating by doing a distracting activity breaks the cycle.
COMFORT EATING VICIOUS CIRCLE 2 This vicious circle is about giving in to a craving. After you give in to the craving, you feel disgusted, mad, and disappointed in yourself. So you comfort eat more. This makes you feel even more disappointed in yourself, so you comfort eat even more. The cycle repeats and repeats, until it becomes a vicious cycle.
Ways to break it: Learning how to handle giving in to a craving without feeling disgusted, mad or disappointed is the way to break this vicious circle. Think DAMAGE CONTROL. When you cave to the craving, just pick yourself up, brush yourself off, go on, and try again. Now is a good time to plan ahead. Make a list of DISTRACTING ACTIVITIES that you enjoy. The next time you have the urge to cave to a craving, pick out one of your pre-planned distractions instead of caving to the craving and DO IT! The more you try, the easier it gets.
STRESS EATING VICIOUS CIRCLE 1 This vicious circle is when you need to munch on something when stressed or bored. Eating lots of crunchy, chewy, "busy" foods like fried food, ribs, nuts, candy bars, or crisps (chips) is a sign of stress eating. Or, it may be any food that is available. Typically, stress eating is mindless, you don't even realize you are doing it in the moment. Later, you feel worse about yourself because you ate the food.
Ways to break it: Stay away from the foods that you eat when stressed. Find ways of dealing with stress that don't involve food, like relaxing deep breaths, distracting fun activities, and typing your problems in your journal, with plans for each problem. If you eat the food anyway, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and try again. The more you try, the easier it gets.
STRESS EATING VICIOUS CIRCLE 2 This Vicious Circle is about eating to relieve the stress of being overweight itself. You feel stressed about the fact that you are unable to lose weight or continue to gain and the torment of not being able to do things that other youth can do. This stress causes you to turn even more to food for stress relief.
Ways to break it: It is possible for you to lose weight. Take it step by step. You can learn to eliminate problem foods you crave or have a problem resisting one by one. You can also learn to reduce or eliminate snacking and reduce mealtime food amounts and not miss the food. We call this the 3 step approach to losing weight.
You can also learn to handle urges to eat in the moment by a technique called URGE SURFING. Urge surfing is visualizing letting a bothersome urge to eat roll over you like a WAVE. Pause, feel, and be aware of your urge. RELAX, and "SURF" your urge, but without acting on it. Take a RISK that you may be hungry or miss the comfort of the food, but that it will pass and you'll be OKAY. Breath in deeply, hold in for a couple seconds, then, let your breath out. Distract yourself and go about your life. Look at this as a new adventure. You can break the cycle!
SELF-ESTEEM VICIOUS CIRCLE This vicious circle is about gaining weight, which lowers your self-esteem, so you care even less about how you look, so you eat more and gain more weight. The cycle repeats and repeats, until it becomes a vicious cycle. You tend to forget about clothing styles, because it's harder to find stylish clothing in larger sizes.
Ways to break it: Even though you have gained weight, you can still look attractive. Get a new hair style, seek out stylish clothing, or learn how to dress to look your best. You can also find other stylish clothing tips online.You will start to feel better about yourself and care more about how you look. This motivates you to lose more weight and you feel better and better about yourself. As you begin to feel better about yourself, you don't tend to eat to soothe bad feelings.
SLIP-UPS VICIOUS CIRCLE This vicious circle is about slipping up and eating what you're trying to avoid. Then you feel like "I've blown it, so I might as well eat what I want."
Ways to break it: When you slip up, just go right back to your original plan to avoid eating a food, then you won't feel that you've blown it, and you'll keep going. Learn from what happened. Why did I slip up? What happened? Put a plan in place so the next time you are tempted, you can avoid slipping. It's called "damage control." Don't keep focusing on what you did, move on to improve the next time.
WILL POWER VICIOUS CIRCLE This vicious circle is about trying to resist a craving or tempting food, which stresses you out the more you try to resist, so you finally cave and stress eat.
Ways to break it: Don't try to fight a craving or temptation. Just let it roll over you like a wave. Feel the desire for the food, just relax and don't act on it. The craving will pass in a minute or two. Distract yourself with something fun that keeps your hands busy, like a project, a drawing, or playing a musical instrument. And get away from the tempting food. You can do it!
If you can trick your brain and distract yourself, you can resist the craving. Then you don't get stressed, so you don't cave and stress eat. If you know you can resist the craving by doing a distraction or fun activity, it doesn't stress you out, so you won't stress eat.
EXERCISE VICIOUS CIRCLE 1 This vicious circle is about not exercising, because you are not able to move much without getting out of breath.
Ways to break it: Don't worry about exercising, just do something you enjoy, like maybe volleyball, swimming, walking your dog, or dancing lessons. The main benefit of exercising is not burning calories but raising your endorphin level and relieving stress. Instead of exercise, do a fun activity. The trick is to DO IT!
EXERCISE VICIOUS CIRCLE 2 This vicious circle is about not exercising because you are embarrassed to be seen exercising, or you fear being teased. When you lose weight, you are not as embarrassed to be seen exercising. As you lose weight you will exercise more, lose more weight, and be even less embarrassed. If you can overcome your embarrassment and exercise anyway, that will break the cycle. Check out other SELF ESTEEM ideas to help you build up your self confidence.
Ways to break it: Find some fun activity you enjoy doing, like partner dancing. It doesn't matter what size you are, moving is fun, particularly to music. You can dance by yourself in your room. Again, the main benefit of exercising is not burning calories but raising your endorphin level and relieving stress. Dance Anyone?
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