This is the first post in my series of ‘100% in 1%’ by which I mean 100% of the key messages in 1% the time to read. I devour books, particularly the self-improvement variety, and create summaries for myself to reference. Speaking with an expert in the wellness community, I was encouraged to share these summaries with people who have the interest but not the time to read so much (in other words, most people).
Original: Eat Q: Unlock the Weight-Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence by Susan Albers
- Eat Q is a play on IQ which combines implications from research on Emotional Intelligence (EI), emotional eating, and mindfulness. For instance, EI involves emotional regulation, which is is about understanding and tempering emotions so they work for you, not against you. It is the dimmer switch that allows you to turn down a specific emotion to the level that feels right.
- Emotionally driven eating is when food decisions are determined by current emotional states, often leading to automatic reactions. For instance, emotional eaters tend to consume more sweets when sad, double the chocolate when depressed, and overall more calories whether happy or lonely.
- Eating issues are ingrained in our brains. Food reward is associated with the mesolimbic dopamine system and sensitivity to sweet and fatty foods. In the prefontal cortex, both inhibitory control and time discounting (favouring an immediate reward over a better reward in the future) are located in the dorsolateral region. The memory of a food that felt good or comforting in the past is stored in the amygdala.
- What we resist persists. Both avoiding and clinging to feelings drain your energy.
- Self-control is a strategic allocation of your attention; “change the way you think instead of trying to suppress a thought.” “You can’t decide how you feel. You can decide what you’ll eat.” The moment of decisions is the one you can control so it is the one that matters.
- The EAT Method is to Embrace feelings (notice, identify, feel); Accept them; and, Turn to positive, healthy ways to manage feelings and moderate eating. Learn to reconnect and identify feelings with words. Sit with them – pain is okay for a short time and feelings pass, cravings pass.
- Rather than emotionally driven eating, the objective is insight driven decisions. In this way, feelings are used for guidance only. They are still important or you may get stuck in an internal pros & cons debate.
- Know yourself. What is your decision making style? Consider how you deal with stress in a good moment, and how you deal in a difficult moment. Peek behind your cravings to understand triggers: where are you, what are you doing, who is there, how are you feeling, and why do you want to eat?
- Food may numb an emotion but it won’t get rid of it. Look for what is useful about an emotion then commit to taking one action to manage it in a positive way.
- Build a new healthy habit consistently for 2 months; it may take that long before it becomes natural with little effort, no willpower. Then move onto the next.
- Planning to eat may be part of the pleasure and overeating an attempt to prolong the pleasure. Turn daydreaming toward aspirations beyond the next meal.
- Emotional regulation skills include deep focused breathing, self-talk, journaling, progressive muscle relaxation, mindful yoga, meditation, or neutral distraction like Sudoku or painting nails. One way to meditateis place thoughts in the present, curious about thoughts without judgement. Feel movement of chest, list to sound of breathing, watch thoughts come and go without trying to change them. “Imagine them floating to the surface of water, like a bubble, and popping or floating away.”
- Calming words can be uses as affirmations or mediation mantras. Examples offered include, “This too will pass. I will survive. I can make the best of it. It’s not the end of the world.”
- Recharge by callings someone, napping, walking outdoors, or doing crafts. Change the context by washing your face, changing clothes, changing seats, cleaning, or singing and dancing. Use scents like essential oils to “block the sensory images your imagination creates of the smell of a food you crave.”
- Pause for at least 10 seconds or set a timer for 5 minutes. “Some research suggests we make decisions seven seconds before we are aware of it.” Susan’s PAUSE formal follows: 1) Perceive physiological and psychological state. Lean in and tune into the moment with curiosity. 2) Predict how your feelings might affect your perception, taking time away from distractions to stabilize, and distinguish between past and present feelings. 3) Prepare to address root issues. For instance, sleep if you’re tired.
- Embodied cognition technique: flex muscles or clench a pen to strengthen resolve.
- Imagery technique: find a neutral or negative association with a trigger food, such as imagining it as something other than food like a painting or shaving cream, or associating a characteristic with something unpleasant. Conversely, interrupt sudden unwanted thoughts before they get to sensory images by counting backwards by three.
- Manage impulse eating by (a) focusing on immediate gains i.e. pride, peace of mind, lack of guilt, feeling satisfied and not too full; and, (b) reset expectations to what food can realistically deliver i.e. relief from hunger and fleeting pleasure.
- Chocolate only elevates mood for 3 minutes, depending on quality, from taste and emotional association. Try savouring a square of dark chocolate for 3 minutes then wait 20 minutes – is your chocolate craving satisfied? If not, you may be craving it for comfort you are best to seek from a more effective source.
- When indulging in ice cream, go for a cone and also take a spoon to notice if the cone is more flavourful and lasts longer. Also think of avoiding brain freeze to eat slowly.
- If you cannot resist eating when stressed, try a clementine orange, carrots, or sugar-free gum with mindful eating.
- If you binge, focus on the details of how you feel, physically in particular, to remember the connection between behaviour and consequence.
- Eat before you get together with people. Set boundaries with clear statements like “No thank you, I don’t want to share a dessert.” Say “don’t” or “choose” rather than “can’t” or “should.”
- With your partner, accept you are each in charge of your own plate. Show don’t tell your healthy choices, but reinforce your partner’s healthy choices. Compromises include taking turns buying favourite foods or preparing the same base of pasta, for instance, with different toppings for each person.
- At a buffet, fill at least 1/3 of your plate with low-risk foods like salad; add moderate foods like pasta for the second third; then, finish the plate with one layer of high-risk treats you like the best. Consider potential regrets of choices before eating.
- Embrace feelings: take an inordinate amount of time tuning into senses and feelings to train mindful eating, or commit to being open-minded for a day and explore closed-minded thoughts.
- Accept feelings: record as you demonstrate strengths then make a small goal to take your strengths to the next level, or write down and challenge negative self-talk.
- Turn to manage feelings: practice pausing and changing daily routines, or pause for two minutes between your first choice and final choice to notice your internal voice
Also do let me know what you think about this summary. I’m trying something new that excites me so I want you to like it too 🙂