Even after deciding how you want to change your life, you may still make bad choices. For instance, you can say, "I'm not going to stick my head in a bowl of ice cream the next time I have an awful blind date," and adhere to it for a while before slipping back into your old habits. Sometimes a slipup is a result of "happiness anxiety." I've seen so many clients reach one of their goals—and then clean out the refrigerator. Other women aren't ready to deal with what achieving that goal means: Perhaps they don't know how to accept attention from the opposite sex. Or deep down they feel they don't deserve to be happy, so every time they experience joy, they turn back to food—which only reinforces in their minds that they are weak or unworthy. When I see these kinds of slipups, I know to ask my clients to look at what is behind their minor setbacks. Once they see the connection between getting close to their goals and bingeing, they are often able to get back on track. Others use the opportunity to explore these issues with a professional therapist.
What you have to remember is that changing your eating habits is a process of recommitting to your goals each and every day. Anytime you lose sight of that and start focusing on what's going wrong, you'll take yourself away from the life you want to lead. The key to overcoming your eating problem is to remind yourself that at least you're taking today (or this afternoon or this hour) to move toward your goal. And that's the trick of the 10 percent of those who manage to overcome this problem.
Emotional eating is a powerful and unhealthy coping mechanism, but you can overcome your tendency to binge when stressed, angry or frustrated. If you can recognize what's missing in your life and work toward a more fulfilling future, you'll find it so much easier to make the right choices when it comes to food. Even if you slip and polish off a box of Fig Newtons after a hectic day at work, try to learn from the experience. Why did you need them so much? As I tell my clients, you have an unlimited number of ways to improve your life—and unlimited opportunities to go backward. It helps to remember that every time you put something in your mouth, you are making a decision about the way you want to treat yourself. Your aim is to be good to yourself and to know what fulfills you—not simply what fills you up.
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