Whew, I’m over three weeks into my cleanse and feeling pretty darn good! The weekends are toughest, as was expected, but the cravings get less and less each weekend…Yay! The primary reasons I did this little experiment were to see if eliminating processed sugars, carbs and alcohol would stabilize my moods and emotions, as well as curb my cravings, and eliminate binge eating. Well, after three weeks I can definitively say that yes, eliminating a certain food from your diet for an extended period of time does curb cravings for that specific food; no surprise there :). However, that’s about the only thing this cleanse has done. That surprises me! After three weeks clean of sugar, alcohol and processed carbs, my moods and emotions still fluctuate and I still have episodes of binge eating. Through this process I have identified that both of those issues are directly related to my stress levels. When my stress levels increase, my moods and emotions fluctuate. When my moods and emotions fluctuate, then I have episodes of binge eating. Being able to clearly define the root cause of these issues is a great outcome of this cleanse! Now that I have identified what causes the binge eating, I can begin creating alternative solutions to eating. For those of you that wonder exactly what it is that I do with my clients…this is it! Through in depth discussions, journaling, and experimentation (like this one), we identify the root cause for someone’s eating challenges so we can create alternative solutions to eating. For example, now that I know that my binging typically occurs when my emotions get erratic, and that my emotions get erratic when I’m stressed out, I can create a list of alternative solutions for handling my stress that does not include food.
I know that journaling about the various things that are stressing me out decreases my stress levels. Once my stressors are down on paper and out of my head, I immediately feel a sense of relief; my mind gets to take a break because I no longer have to continue to juggle all of those balls in my head. Plus, seeing the stressors on paper helps to give me some perspective. Some of the things on the list are typically very easily resolved and I can fix them right then and there. Others are out of my control and recognizing that I can let go of them. Then, I create a plan of action for whatever is left over on the list. This process creates a sense of control over my life that takes away the need to eat. It calms my mind which stabilizes my emotions.
Another stress relieving technique for me is going to a Zumba or Yin Yoga class. Zumba allows my mind to check out while my body has tons of fun. Zumba is all of the fun of dancing at a club with a group of girlfriends but without the hassle of getting hit on. By the end of the class I’m soaked through with sweat, absolutely tapped out, and grinning from ear to ear 🙂 Yin Yoga, on the other hand, encourages quietness and stillness. These are two things I have very little of in my life and being given “permission” to shut down and do nothing for an hour is wonderful for me. By the end of the class, I am completely relaxed and in a dream-like state in which nothing seems to bother me.
So, as you can see, there are always alternatives to eating, but its tough to know what they are until you know the root of the eating problem.
I’m curious to hear what techniques you use to handle the stress in your life. I’d love to capture a lot of ideas that I can share with my clients that also struggle with stress. I can’t wait to see your ideas!