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RTF 99: Help! I Can’t Stop Emotional Eating!

Do you find yourself opening the fridge or looking for some goodies in your pantry whenever you feel stressed, sad, angry, or overwhelmed by all the problems in your life?

Well, you are certainly not alone on this one. It’s a common thing for people to search for comfort in food when they feel down. This behavior is called emotional eating and it is an issue many people are struggling with nowadays.

Many of us try to suppress and soothe negative feelings with the pleasure of eating delicious foods or drinking alcohol. And while rewarding ourselves with goodies from time to time is a great thing to do, when emotional eating becomes a daily habit it can cause serious problems to our overall health.

But how do we stop this? How do we break this circle? Find out from this new Real Talk Friday episode!

Ted Ryce is going to talk about his own struggles with emotional eating, why emotional eating happens, what we are really craving for, and how to identify the area of our life we need to improve in order to stop emotional eating. Plus, he will reveal some effective strategies to stop emotional eating!

So, if you are struggling with emotional overeating, this is the right place for you to start your healing process and become a healthier, happier, and better version of yourself. Listen now!

 

You’ll learn:

  • Ted’s personal struggles with emotional eating
  • Why does emotional eating happen?
  • What you’re really craving is pleasure
  • Alcohol and food are poor ways of getting pleasure
  • Why are you craving pleasure so much?
  • How to identify the area of your life you need to improve in order to stop emotional eating
  • Problem-solving coping and the emotional coping
  • Strategies to stop emotional eating
  • And much more

 

Related Episodes:  

455: How Your Brain Is Making You Fat (And What To Do About It) with Stephan Guyenet

307: How To Retrain Your Brain To Beat Food Addiction With Stephan Guyenet

The Science Of Food Cravings (And How To Beat Them For Once And All) Part 2

 

Podcast Transcription: Help! I Can’t Stop Emotional Eating!

Ted Ryce: Have you ever thought to yourself that: “Wow, you know what, I think my emotions are playing a big role in what I choose to eat, and how much I eat?” Have you ever thought that?

Well, of course, you have, silly, we all do, it’s called being a human being, at least in this modern world, where we are surrounded by a lot of food, combined with a lot of stress, especially these days, with the political climate. It’s something that we’re all dealing with, at one form or another.

And I’ll tell you, I have a personal story about this one I’ve shared partly, at least in part, sorry, when I got super lean in 2019, when I was in Bangkok. And then when I got to Colombia, in early 2020, I started to get even leaner, even in better shape—putting on muscle.

Even when the Coronavirus quarantine happened, I still got in better shape. And some of the photos from there, people were like, “Oh my god!” they think I was on drugs. And I com—not compliment people, but thank them, say thank you for that compliment, because you know what, not only did I not have any steroids, but I didn’t even have a gym, I worked out with bands in a studio apartment.

Now, this studio apartment had a nice big balcony that’s why I chose it. I actually moved last minute to have enough space to go outside and also to train outside. Because I knew what was coming was going to be rough. But I had basically nothing: no gym, small apartment, with a nice big balcony.

And then when things started to go wrong for my dad, that’s when I ended up getting fatter. I’ll tell you: I’m final pulling out of that place I was in over the past few months. And so, I’m going to dive into the emotional eating side. But I want to tell you, I’m coming at this perspective—there’s going to be some tough talk here. But I want to let you know that I’ve been there, I’ve experienced it.

And if you haven’t heard the story of what I went through with my dad, I mean, it was a lot more than just losing a parent. I won’t go into it here, said it enough, you can go back through the RTFs in 2020 if you want to listen and hear more, but I just want to share with you that I’m also coming from a place of compassion and empathy because I’ve been there. So just keep that in mind.

So, here’s what I learned: your body, you’re not craving anything. Your body, “Oh, I crave chocolate around this time,” your body’s not craving anything. “Oh, I’m just craving a drink. I’m craving something delicious.” Your body’s not craving anything. Your body doesn’t need alcohol, your body doesn’t need chocolate. That’s all bullshit.

What you’re really craving is pleasure. What you really want is pleasure. I’m going to let you sit with that for a second. But what you really want is pleasure. And another thing is that alcohol and food are really, really poor ways of getting pleasure. They’re really poor ways of getting pleasure.

Now what do I mean by that? Because I mean, I like this taste of scotch, but I’m more of a sweets person. What do we mean by that? Well, the thing is this: think about the last time you ate something delicious. For me, it was yesterday. Think about what you were feeling. Think about what you did, what you ate, or drank, if that’s your case, and think about okay, how did it work? Think about how it made you feel after?

Was it really so amazing? Were the chocolate chip cookies that I ate yesterday, did it really solve something for me? Did it really give me the experience that I was looking for? Now sometimes the answer is yes. Especially if we’re sharing meals with other people who we care about, that can be an important bonding. That’s more of an experience.

But yesterday, I was by myself when I ate the cookies. It wasn’t an important experience. It wasn’t a shared experience. It wasn’t me hanging out with friends and sharing stories and catching up and asking about how their kids –all my friends have kids now. It was just me by myself. And I want to ask you, what was your situation like last time you had a drink, or something to eat that was delicious?

Now, here’s the thing. Again, I’m going to separate here, the social aspects. And I would even—let me just say this, because you may have recalled like, “Oh, well, the last time I eat something delicious was when I was out to dinner with my friends or my family.” But it wasn’t the food, was it? It wasn’t the food. You got to eat, but it was the social situation, the interactions, the positive interactions.

And really, having a meal is just an excuse to meet with people, and you’ve got to eat, right? Now, let’s talk about when this happens over and over and over. Because so many of us, we get trapped into a cycle—and it happens with drugs, too. I’m not going to be talking about drugs. Personally, I’ve done this with marijuana. But most people, they’re doing it with food. They’re doing it with food.

So, if you feel bored, or if you feel bad, and you medicate yourself with food, or alcohol, what does that do? Well, it doesn’t really solve the underlying issue. And we’ll talk about what those might be in a minute. So, it doesn’t solve the underlying issue. And if you do it enough, what happens? It’s like, ‘Well, I’m feeling lonely. I don’t like my job. I feel like I should be doing more. I’m really stressed out because I’ve been watching the news, so let me drink something, eat something.’

Does it change the state of the world, that drink, or that slice of chocolate cake, or whatever, you’re into, pizza? Hmm, pizza. Did it change your loneliness? Did it change the world? Of course not. You know the answer to that. But we’re stuck in a cycle where we keep doing it. We’re stuck in a cycle where we keep doing it. Even though it doesn’t work. The strategy sucks.

And I’m not saying you should never reward yourself with food or enjoy food, you shouldn’t certainly should, right? It’s one of the pleasures of life. But most of us, we’re not eating at a really nice restaurant where we just love the cuisine that we’re having. We’re just mindlessly shoving food in our face, trying to feel better about some emotions that we’re feeling.

And if we do it enough, what happens? Well, we get fat. Put on excess fat. That excess body fat, it’s not doing anything. And lot of us, we get into a cycle where we put on the excess body fat, we start to see ourselves in the mirror and it makes us feel bad.

So whatever was making us feel bad before whether it was boredom or something negative, now you’ve got something extra because you see your body’s not looking the way you want it to. I’ve had people tell me, “Oh, I look in the mirror. I’m disgusted with the way I look. Man, disgusted with the way I look.”

And for most people too, what happens – I don’t know if I’ve ever been disgusted with the way I look, but I certainly felt like, ‘Hmm, I’m not really looking my best here.” I mean, the hairs going, the wrinkles are coming but I can’t do anything about that, sort of getting some surgery or whatever. But I certainly am in 100% control whether—well, I don’t want to say 100% but I’m mostly in control what goes in my face and whether I’m being consistent in the gym or not.

But most people what they do is they see themselves looking a certain way and they just start to lose hope and instead of it triggering them to start to get things handled, it just becomes another negative in their life that drives them to even eat more. Because what’s the point? “Oh, I’m already fat and disgusting, anyway.”

And we really don’t want to look worse or put on more fat, but we end up doing it anyway, we’re not going to get too deep into why that happens, by the way, what we’re going to do is focus a little bit more on like, “Well, what the hell can we do today to be different? What can we do today? What can we do this week?” Or since it’s a Real Talk Friday, what can we do this weekend to be different? Because something needs to change.

And again, I want to remind you, I’m not judging here. I’m not judging you here. I’m talking about the things we all struggle with, myself included. I may not have struggled with it the same way as you have, and other people struggle with it differently. But here’s the thing, we all got our burden to bear. And if you want to level up your life, especially in the area of your health, you’ve got to make a change, regardless of how hard it is, regardless of how many obstacles you have, regardless of where you are, you need to make a change.

Complaining doesn’t help and certainly, getting deeper into the downward spiral of not liking your body and seeing it and saying negative things to yourself, and then eating more, then looking, according to yourself, worse, and then eating more, that’s not helping either. And I’ll throw in as a side note: if you are a leader here, if you run a business, if you are a parent, you’re not being a great leader, you’re not being a great parent.

Why? Because you’re modeling behavior for the people who follow you, whether it’s your kids, whether it’s the people who work for you. We all know it, we’re afraid to talk about it today. “Oh, that’s fat shaming. Oh, that’s insensitive to the struggles I have.” Well, listen, it is what it is.

Now, some people, they’re in a really tough situation, financially, people who are in poverty—but let’s be honest here, you’re not there. In fact, most of the people listen to this is probably doing pretty well financially. That’s not your situation; certainly, not my situation.  So we’re not talking about those people are really struggling at the bottom level socio-economic level of society. That’s another conversation for another time.

And if that is you, by the way, then I feel for you, and I want you to keep listening and training your mind to break out of poverty, because poverty is more than just a how much money you have in your bank account, or what your education is, it’s a state of mind.

So please, I honor you for showing up here and continuing to work and to train yourself mentally to rise above what you’re in. But again, we’re not talking about those folks. Or at least those aren’t the folks that I mostly talked to. I’m trying to help the leaders here. Because most of us, we’re leaders, we’re parents, we’re business owners, we have high level careers, we have influence, people look up to us, we’re role models. What are we modeling for the people who look up to us? Something worth considering.

So, let’s switch gears a little bit. What do we do, then? If we know that we’re craving pleasure. And if we drink, we get a little pleasure, but then it goes away and we’ve got to drink more or eat more, then it goes away, we’ve got to eat and drink more and it goes away. How do we get out of that cycle?

And the first question to ask yourself—and I want to tell you, I want to preface what we’re talking about here with something important. There’s a reason I’m not talking about complicated biohacks or shining infrared light on your balls or inhaling molecular hydrogen or the latest supplement.

You want to know why? Because I sell coaching. I work with people, in other words, and I see what people really struggle with and it isn’t going to the sauna eight times a week, it’s not what we’re struggling with, we’re not struggling with the one little magic trick. What we’re struggling with is our lives, what we’re struggling with is stress.

Now, certainly, some people are struggling with, they don’t know the right information. But we can learn the right information very quickly when it comes to fat loss.; it’s about calories, it’s about protein, it’s about choosing foods that help you stay full. And the real challenge comes from when people know what to do, but then they can’t do it. Why can’t we do what we know we need to do? And that’s what we’re talking about here.

So the first thing you need to ask yourself, what need is not being met? Why are you craving pleasure so much? And when you’re asking this question, let’s keep it simple for you, right? Because it’s a big question, isn’t it?

Now you might know right away, right off the bat, you might be a person who’s done some work and you are introspective, and you’ve asked yourself these questions, and you might know right off the bat, and if that’s you, excellent. Excellent. Thank you for doing the work. We need more people to do the work for a better world. And just for you to have better health.

So we can narrow it down to three areas: health, wealth, and relationships. Let’s start there. So with health, we’re already talking about food. We’re already talking about food and why we eat food or alcohol. By the way, men tend to drink more when they’re stressed; women tend to eat more, based on surveys.

So we already talked about food, but what about sleep? Are you pushing yourself in that way? Do you need more sleep? Do you sleep like crap because you’re trying to adhere to some schedule that is really unsustainable and it’s leading to you feeling bad? And also trying to get some pleasure from something and something easy and what are you reaching for?

Not the superfood salad or the kale shake; you’re reaching for the cookies, the pizza, the French fries, the burgers? So are you not sleeping enough? 

What about exercise? You are telling yourself, “Oh, I need to exercise, I need to exercise,” but then you don’t do it. “Oh, I really need to exercise. Oh, I’m getting out of shape, I really need to exercise,” but then you don’t do it and you feel bad about yourself.

So what do you do? Well, you go to something easy? You eat or drink alcohol. Does that resonate with you? 

Or what about doing something exciting in your life? For me, that’s part of health. It’s not just how many times do I workout in the gym? Do I mostly eat whole foods? Do I track my calories? Do I get enough protein? That’s all important. But what am I doing? That is really helping me to expand myself.

So what resonates with you there, if anything? And maybe it’s not the health category, maybe it’s the wealth, maybe you’re struggling financially, that’s not usually who I work with? Well, it’s not who I work with, it’s not who I really talked to on this show, but maybe you’re listening to the show and you’re struggling financially.

Maybe you’re not being on top of your finances. Maybe you don’t like your job. That’s happened a lot, and it happens at all levels. Maybe you don’t like the business that you’re in. I talked to a client not too long ago, a client I’m working with now, I asked him how much does he like his business on a scale of 1 to 10? And he answered, “Well, it’s a 51%, it’s barely enough.”

And you know, I’m just sharing that, we haven’t really had too in depth of a conversation about it but you’ve got to ask yourself, is what you’re doing right now is the business that you’re in, is the job that you have, is it a “hell yes” for you? I’ll tell you; one of the easiest things, I mean, one of the things that has happened to me is my personal training job in Miami Beach was a “hell no” for me.

And it made getting in shape really hard, because I was so stressed out about what I had to go do. And in a way, I mean, we could say, well, shouldn’t you be grateful? And you might say to yourself, right? Shouldn’t you be grateful? And of course, you should. And I played a lot of games with myself to be grateful. I was like, “Oh, man, I don’t want to train Michael this morning at 7:30. I don’t want to train him.”

And I said, “You know, I’ve got to be grateful for him. I’ve got to be grateful for Michael, I’ve got to be grateful that I’m showing up to a place where I’m going to get paid to do this. And the money that I’m making here, it’s going to allow me to start my other business.”

But here’s the thing: eventually, I needed to leave. And right now, let me tell you, I love what I do. I don’t love it all the time. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing the work, but is it a hell yes for me? Yes, it’s a hell yes. So is what you’re doing in your career or your business that you have, is it a hell yes?

Do you have a toxic workplace? I have another client, he had a fire someone had to fire someone recently, because the guy was bringing everyone down, even though he was good at his job. He was bringing everyone down. Do you have someone who’s messing up things and that person has been with you for a while and you don’t want to let him go? Especially because it COVID and all the things and you know they’re going to struggle.

Guess what? If they’re open to it, maybe you should get them a coach or a therapist, perhaps. But maybe that’s the answer, but if they’re not open to being helped, then you’ve got to get rid of them. 

Do you need to get worked on but you’re procrastinating? And that procrastination makes you feel bad so you go and eat to bring yourself some pleasure to offset how bad you feel?

I think that’s what I was doing yesterday. Of course, I’m still kind of recovering. I’m not telling you the whole story about what I’ve been struggling with lately, because I was sick and then I thought it was COVID and it was freaking me out, but then I got a COVID test. And then I flew to Miami and the flight, I didn’t sleep very well, because it was there were only red-eye flight, so all night long, and it took a huge toll on me.

It’s not like hanging out with your friends all night. It was terrible—at least for me, I don’t do well with all night flights. So there’s some contexts there, just FYI. 

Maybe it’s not wealth, maybe it’s relationships. Maybe you’re in an unhealthy relationship right now. Maybe there’s no passion, maybe there’s no sex, maybe there’s too much arguing. Maybe you know it’s over but you’re scared to leave.

Or maybe you’re single right now. I’m single right now. And I’m in Miami; it’s a place that’s known for difficulty in relationships. The people here, I’m not going to get into it. But the people here, the way they are and the way they end up interacting with each other, it becomes a struggle to meet other people, people get really confused—won’t go open up that can of worms.

Lack of friendships - The one thing I do have here, although I’m single and not the best place to be dating people, although there’s plenty of eligible people here, is I’ve got a lot of friends here. I mean, compared to other places in the world, I’ve got a lot of friends here. I’ve been hanging out with my friends; I hung out with two friends the same day I arrived.

I hung out with my friends yesterday. I’ve got a lot of people that are going to come see me or I’m going to go meet them. I got a client who I’m going to go hang out with. I got a claim from Miami, my first client, actually. Now obviously, when I was here as a personal trainer, all my clients were from Miami but this is my first client from Miami who’s hired me since I left – kind of cool. So we’re going to meet up in person.

So, lack of friendships. Or is it something else for you? And I tell these stories not to just share my life but I share them so that number one, you know I’m a regular person like you are and two, in the hopes that the story is bring up something for you. Because what’s really important here is your life, what comes up for you.

This episode, these episodes, this podcast, it’s really about you. And my job, or at least what I believe my job to be is to tell stories, to share things, to share knowledge, in the hopes that something clicks and makes a difference for you. 

So, I want to ask you right now, what resonated with you? What resonated with you? What came up for you? Think about that, write it down if you need to. Keep it in your mind.

So now let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk about well, if we’re—so there’s two types of coping that we’ve talked about in the past, there is problem-solving coping and there is emotional coping. So, problem-solving coping is pretty straightforward, right? So what happens is, ‘Oh, I’m single, I’m lonely, I’m not having sex, and this makes me feel bad, so I’m going to eat or drink alcohol.” But does that solve the problem of not being lonely? No, I need to go out and meet people.

Which by the way, I’m doing, I’m just using this as an example. So, solving the problem is to solve the underlying issue to, okay, well, I need to put some…or how do I meet people? I need to go out, I need to meet people, which is a little bit complicated right now. Coronavirus being on the rise here in Miami; I came here at not a great time. But okay, fine, then I put up some online dating profiles.

What are the best ones to be on, and how do I put up my profile in a way that makes me stand out? You know what I mean? So that’s the problem solving because I can eat all I want, I can drink all the alcohol, but it doesn’t help me to meet someone. Okay, so that’s problem- solving.

Now, there’s coping. So while drinking and eating doesn’t solve the problem, it might make me feel a little a little bit better. But the problem is, we all know that if we rely on food and alcohol too much, or other drugs for that matter—food is not a drug, but since it, some of it releases dopamine, we can develop a habit, right?

So, what do we do instead of drinking food and alcohol? And the answer here is very easy. It’s experiences. People who invest in experiences over material things, do better, they are happier. In fact, not that you needed some research to know this because I mean, think about all the amazing dinners and desserts that you’ve had versus all the amazing vacations or experiences that you’ve had.

But there is some research that was even published recently in 2020 from the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin and they found certain purchases are better than others at sparking people’s “in-the-moment’ happiness. And what they found was people were happier with experiential purchases over material ones.

And it’s irrespective of when you measure happiness, so before during or after the experience or after you buy it. Experiences also provoke more satisfaction, even though typically, if you buy something, you’re going to use it more, like you buy a new car, you’re really excited about it and you’re going to drive the car every day but after a while, you just don’t give a shit.

That’s probably the one of the things, like you see people riding around in their luxury cars, the truth about that—and there’s nothing wrong with luxury cars, I love luxury cars, they are better to ride around in generally, they’re more comfortable than other cars, even though now the car standards, they’re just amazing.

But it just becomes your car, it just becomes your Aston Martin, it just becomes your X7, it just becomes your Lexus. It’s just not that big of a deal anymore, even though you get to use it all the time. You just aren’t as excited about it. 

Buying that Hermes purse for like 7k, or whatever it is, you just don’t care after a while, it just becomes a thing you stuff your makeup into. Or buying a $5,000 suit, it just becomes the thing that you wear to work.

So, experiences provoke more satisfaction. Experiences, folks, it’s all about experiences. And I’m not saying don’t dress well, I’m not saying don’t have nice shoes or a purse, I’m not saying don’t go out to eat. I’m not saying never eat food, we’re going to all do those things.

But what I’m saying is if you find yourself stuck in a habit of constantly going for the easy way out, start to challenge yourself, start to ask yourself, “What am I really doing here? What do I really need here?”

When you’re craving alcohol or food, what are you really craving? You’re craving pleasure. So while alcohol or delicious food is okay to have occasionally, you get fat, unhealthy and really unhappy, if you do it too much. And the reason is, you just have to keep doing it. And there’s a consequence to drinking a lot or eating a lot of food.

And then it in return makes you feel bad about yourself, especially alcohol, not only are you getting fatter, but you’re getting hung over and it’s affecting your sleep every night. So examining why you’re craving pleasure and what’s really missing. And ask yourself, can you solve the problem? You need to get work on solving the problem.

But also, you still do need some, right we’ve talked about the two ways of coping, the problem-solving coping and the emotional coping. We need a mixture of both. But it’s just that we need to start. So, it’s not bad if you’re coping emotionally, right, doing a little bit emotional coping.

For example, if you’re feeling bad, because you’re single and you go to the gym, that’s not making you unsingle, it’s not getting you hitched—not finding you a life partner. But it’s something that’s positive for you and it makes you feel good. So, it makes you feel good, but it’s also a positive for you. So emotional coping is not bad. It’s just to understand you need a combination of both.

And when you choose to cope emotionally, what are you doing? And again, it’s not bad to cope emotionally with alcohol or food. But if you do it too much, well, you know where that leads? 

So, let’s wrap things up now, what is the big takeaway for you today? How do you see what we’ve talked about? How is it applying to your life? Where is this craving for pleasure really coming from for you? And how are you dealing with it, can you cope by solving the underlying problem?

And maybe it’s like, for example, I keep coming back to the single thing because it’s such a—well, it’s my personal situation. But it’s like, that’s not an easy problem to fix. I don’t want to just find the first person who wants to be in a relationship and get with them, it’s going to take some time. And so there might be negative emotions that come up.

And by the way, I’m not feeling this right now, because I was actually seeing someone while I was in Brazil. But I know these feelings are going to start, so I need to be aware of them. So I can’t solve that situation right away, because that could even lead to something that causes additional stress, and I’ll be coping with that because I chose the wrong partner.

So I can’t expect at least to find a partner right away. So I’ve got to cope with the negative emotions that come up, “Oh, I’m too old to find a partner. Oh, it’s so hard here in Miami,” whatever comes up for me or for you in your situation. So you need some emotional coping, too, but how are you coping with your emotions?

And again, experiences are the way to go here. And I want to say just one more thing. It’s not bad to go out and drink some alcohol, or to eat some food, if that’s one of the things you really like to do. But when it becomes a habit and you’re getting consequences from your habit, and these consequences are leading you into a negative spiral instead of a positive spiral, you need to make a change, or suffer the consequences for it.

It’s as simple as that, folks, life is simple. What complicates it is our emotions and our childhood, for most of us—and society doesn’t help at all, right? Not usually. And sometimes our friends, we’ve got friends who are like, “Hey, I’m really… let’s go out and get drunk or let’s go eat a lot of food.”

So again, what are you taking away from today? What is something that is resonating with you that’s also perhaps actionable, because that’s the key, folks. It’s not about listening to another podcast. You don’t need another podcast. You don’t need another book. You don’t need another whatever you think you need. You don’t need to scroll on social media for another infographic.

You’ve got to get the insight and then when you feel the motivation, like maybe hopefully you feel right now after listening to this episode, take action on it. That is how you get out of the struggle, that’s how you get out of the negative spiral and into the positive upward spiral. That’s what we want to be in, the positive upward spiral.

That comes from when our actions, behaviors—well, actions and behaviors—that comes from when your behaviors, your thoughts and your feelings are feeding into a positive cycle that makes you feel good about what you do, about what you think, about what you feel. That’s what we’re aiming here for, folks.

So, what is that thing you can go do right now? Because maybe you’re feeling good after listening to this, but what can you go do to start that positive spiral going upwards? That’s what I want to leave you with. Hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Have an amazing weekend, and I’ll speak to you soon.

Ted Ryce
Ted Ryce
Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, world-class fitness trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 20 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and dozens of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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