How can I control my eating when I have impulse control issues?
Last Updated: 10/28/2020 at 5:24pm
Jannise McKamey-Bruell, LAPC
I am a nonjudgmental counselor that employs transparency, trust, honesty and integrity in her practice and in the therapeutic relationship.
Top Rated Answers
You have to literally fight the cravings/impulses as if you are being attacked. Don't fight back and perish or fight back and regain self-control and confidence. It's not bigger than you, it's not stronger than you, you have to learn to fight it.
My experience with eating is an emotional one, and when impulse is an issue, I recommend beginning to set a routine that re-patterns what your impulses are. Often when I sit down to work, an overwhelming urge to get up and go to the kitchen comes over me. In this moment, I remind myself to take a breath, deeply, and for a minute, breath as deeply as possible, repeatedly, in an effort to calm the anxiety I feel about getting to work to possibly messing up. If this doesn't calm me, I refer to the H.A.L.T. method: Am I Hungry? Anxious? Lonely? Tired? This line of questioning can help me fix the problem. I may truly be hungry, in which case, I eat a sensible snack. I may be anxious about work, in which case I remind myself that eating will only be a distraction to block my ability to achieve. If I am tired or lonely, then food also will not mitigate these feelings. If I am tired, I try to manage my sleep better the next next, making it a priority to create a healthy, calm bedtime routine. If I am lonely, then I reach out to a friend or family member. Both of these things make me feel more full and centered than anything in the fridge. And worst comes to worst, if I give into an impulsive eating episode, I remind myself that this is not the pattern I want to set, and I re-set for the next day. With food, every day can be different, every hour can be different. Be kind to yourself when creating boundaries with food. When I finally set my boundaries, I try to be firm with them. When I do cross the line though, I am kind to myself. It is okay.
Start keeping a food journal, at least for a week. Eat as you normally would, but log in the journal what you eat and when; how you feel before and after, the presence of some trigger that pushes you to food; the situation. Meanwhile, if you haven't, start exercising. Small steps, like a walk, or a few sprints, or some bodyweight exercise. It will help immensely. Report how that goes, too. After a week or two, analyze your journal, and try to look for patterns. Work with your findings. Lastly, surround yourself with love: family, friends, some hobby, music, art, 7 cups. Good luck!
Recognize what might put you at a higher risk for suddenly wanting/needing to eat, like commercials and ads for food. Social media can have a lot of food images and stories depending on a variety of factors. If boredom is the cause then be more active/busy, or, remember to do something before eating again. Even if you open or look at the fridge while not physically hungry, get up and do something in a completely different area of your house.
"Controlling" eating often leads to restriction which in some people can lead to a restrict-binge cycle- usually disordered eating if not an eating disorder. If you are having difficulty with emotional eating, compulsive/impulsive eating, and/or binging, reaching out to an expert may help! Not depriving yourself and quitting labeling food or eating as "good" or "bad"/"healthy" or "unhealthy" can help a lot of mental anguish around it too :)
Drink water. It fills you up pretty fast, especially if you're not actually hungry. Water is a good way to make you drop unwanted weight as well.
Put away the temptations and do something else to avoid it then eventually a confrontation will be nessecary but when it reaches that point your best bet is to go seek professional help through therapy.
One of the ways to control eating when you have impulse control issues is plate size. According to scientific research, the smaller the plate, the less food you put on it. For example, if you've made a lasagna and you have a small plate, you're more likely to put a smaller portion of that lasagna on your plate than you are a bigger one. This always tricks your mind and stomach into thinking your fuller so you don't want more. Another way is when you're hungry, but you're only hungry because of your impulse control, drinking water or eating some fruit is a healthier option for you to take :)
If your feeling impulsive the best thing to do is distract yourself. Maybe go out for a walk or find a new funny app to play on your phone. The most important thing to do it distract yourself.
I try to meditate and stay calm. First thing is to try substitute the food that makes bad for my body to good and healthy foods.
One shift you can do is not buy the trigger foods or the go-to foods that are impulsive to you...if they are not easily available then you wont be so tempted or have the opportunity to eat it right then and there.
You can try to focus on something else. Have a list of things you like to do, for exmple watch netflix, fix your nails, read a book and so on..
Try changing these impulses to something different, try and take up a hobby that you can impulsively do rather than eating. This could be drawing or painting or something you're interested in.
I've had a lot of problems with binge eating growing up. It's harder than a lot of people make out so I understand how stressed you might be. What I do is I only eat when I'm hungry. When I am, I get less food than what I think I need and leave. After 20 minutes if I'm still hungry, I get more. Be kind to yourself and don't give up if you slip up.
I think distracting yourself really helps, things like reading, excising, watching tv or simply just talking to someone. Do something productive!
You can ask for help with friends, family, relatives and/or someone you look up with for overall support. And of course, we'll always listen to you at 7 cups.
Learning and practicing mindfulness. Yes, it can be really, really hard. You might go into self-denial or even escaping your present reality, be it your emotions or dealing with tough situations and people. Try your very best and you are worthy! Think long-term, perhaps ask yourself, will the consequences of my excessive food choices be bad for you in a month? a year? 5 years from now? Lastly, be mindful of what you eat (as specific as you can break it down into the food groups - protein, veggies, carbs, fats, fibre...) and frequency (3- 4 hours is a good rule of thumb). For some, snacking on healthy, good -for-you foods might be what you need and help assist with the impulse control.
It is extremely hard, but I find the best thing to do is to try and take a step back and focus on why you are eating.
Start small. Reward yourself when you hit certain goals. Find something other than food that you can let your impulses out on. Whether it be music, spending time with friends, or going swimming. Most importantly, talk to someone. You are not alone.
You could find other alternatives to eating even though it may seem difficult at first. Any sort of distraction should help really; something you can get lost in. Perhaps a sport, or a club or something such as drawing :)
I tend to chew gum or do something physical, eating is healthy if your doing it in a healthy manner. If you feel like its out of being impulsive find something to do that will cause good effects.
Impulse control and willpower are a muscle that needs to be exercised and strengthened over time- which sucks. BUT, when I am having a weak moment, I find it helpful to tell myself, "Okay, I will wait 15 minutes and if I still REALLY REALLY want *insert food item here*, then I will have a little." 90% of the time, I completely forget I wanted it in the first place. Otherwise, that annoying slogan, "moderation is key" is actually really helpful and applicable. You have to think your food choices through, which can be super annoying, until it becomes natural.
Channel your impulse to something else, like hobbies and other stuff you enjoy doing. The more time you make yourself busy, the more youll forget about eating.
Keeping a food journal is a great way to control your eating habits! You can write your food logs down, or download an app to help you (for example, Lifesum is free and is very easy to use). Alternatively, you can distract yourself with activities or hobbies that you enjoy. It's a great way to get your mind off of unnecessary eating. Finally, another great way to help is to delay. Set a time for giving into your urge. Usually during that time, you will forget about it. I hope this helps!
Never be too hard on yourself, and have faith in your ability to change and become the person who you want to be. You are in control of your life, but making changes still takes time and you need to be gentle with yourself during the process.
Don't take food out of the kitchen. If you have food with you while you're watching TV or distracted in any way, it's easy to absent mindedly snack. If you're in the kitchen, there's less to do, and it's a much more conscious, deliberate action that's easier to control.
Wow a doctor that always helps or maybe even talk to your parents about it , Goodluck :))))))))))))))
Distraction can be a huge help when you're having trouble controlling impulses. Whether it's something creative like drawing or writing or playing an instrument, or if you're doing something like watching a movie or doing chores. :) Hope this helps!
Eating can be pretty difficult. You're not alone, everyone feels that way sometimes. But come on! Keep focusing on your goals and nothing else!You' re gonna make it! Sometimes maybe you can have a cheating meal, but definitely not a cheating day! And you can always talk to me how you feel, I'm here for you. :)
Find another activity to distract yourself in, go outside to exercise, meet some friends, paint your nails, listen to energising music, take a nap, and remind yourself that your health is determined by every single thing you do, every little decision you take is what conforms your health.
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