The Power of Self-Expression: Art and Music Therapy in Recovery

Woman expressing herself through painting

If you are someone you know is recovering from addiction, you may need a way to stop the cycle of negative thoughts and self-destructive behaviors. Music and art therapy  can be part of successful treatment plan.  Creative expression has been used for years in either individual or group counseling. Art therapy is used in rehab centers, hospitals, schools, and other settings for recovery. Many people who do not respond well to more traditional treatments have success with music and art therapy.

Self-expression

Communication and self-expression issues are common among people with substance abuse problems. Creative communication can help people in recovery process their thoughts and feelings in a positive way. Often, those who suffer from addiction have trouble making sense of their emotions. And,  they struggle with how people respond to them. Creativity opens new avenues of understanding and helps people learn new thoughts, responses, and behavior patterns.

Art benefits for recovery

People often deny the need for help and may resist treatment.  Art therapy can help overcome this because art therapy can motivate people. They may want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, gain more self-confidence, and improve communication skills. Music is often used to help overcome depression, stress, anxiety and anger or rage issues. Those emotional responses often produce unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Music as therapy

Listening to and playing music creates a certain response in the brain. It stimulates the neurotransmitter dopamine which causes an overall sense of well-being. Music can help people be more likely to seek treatment, and more likely to continue toward recovery. Also, music therapy can increase positive feelings and self-awareness. Then, people can cope better with temptations and frustrations that come from addictions.

When listening to their favorite music, people experience a stimulation of the auditory cortex in anticipation of their favorite musical passages. And then, the feeling of exultation at its peak has a powerfully healing impact. Sometimes our brain helps us experience music even when we’re not actually listening to it or performing it.

Self-discovery

Art and music therapy help you get in touch with your feelings. They also help you learn to accept yourself, and decrease feelings of guilt and shame. The goal is to create a sense of happiness and hope through painting, sculpting, coloring, drawing, collages, or other artwork. Be very creative as you express every aspect of your emotions, both positive and negative.

Art in recovery

For the best results, continue art and music therapy even after formal treatment is done.  As they help to relieve stress, they can help you cope with depression, and fend off the temptation to use again.

At your home, choose art and music that expresses your emotions and helps your mood. According to HomeAdvisor, “Everyone deserves to have their own space for their passion project, be it a crafting station or simply a place to journal. Look around your home with a creative eye, and you’ll realize that much of what you need to create your ideal hobby workshop is already nearby and can be easily converted.” Staying sober or free of addictions is an ongoing struggle. It’s important to find a way to cope with the emotional chaos and pressures that make recovery so difficult.

Guest article by Kim Thomas of US Health Corps posted 8-12-18.

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Suggested links:  https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music/
or https://healthvista.net/inspirational-music-for-teens/

Photo Courtesy of Pixabay.com

How to Explain Addiction to Children

Little girl child with concerned expression

Protecting and Educating Kids About the Dangers of Drugs

Parents want their children to be unaffected by addiction issues. So, addiction may not be a hot topic within your family. However, at some point, all children will probably face peer pressure or witness someone who is struggling with a substance abuse disorder. As your child grows, you can help her understand and develop skills that prevent her from going down the path of addiction.

Avoid Assumptions

Don’t assume that your child knows about addiction and related issues. According to kidshealth.org, opening up to your child about the dangers of substance abuse makes it more likely she’ll come to you for help when she faces a problem or encounters peer pressure.

Don’t assume your child already knows the dangers of drug and alcohol use and abuse, or that she could never fall victim. Though schools may teach students about dealing with peer pressure, it’s up to you to guide her in the right direction. You can do so by modeling behavior and keeping the lines of communication open. It’s also essential to understand the signs of addiction and substance use, and to watch your children closely for changes.

Discuss Family Addiction Problems Openly

If you or your partner is facing an addiction, start a conversation that validates your child’s feelings. Let her know she will always be loved and discuss what steps are being taken for recovery. Customize your discussion for her age group. If a child does not understand what addiction is, you could say that strong cravings can happen over and over throughout the day and night. It is very hard to resist the urge to do what it says. You could compare it to having an annoying song in your head that keeps coming back over and over again.

Acquire Knowledge

 Because it’s not easy to explain addiction to a child, your best bet is to acquire as much information as you can. Be ready to answer any awkward questions that could come up. According to Psych Central, while it’s not a good idea to lie to your child, you may want to be careful to protect young children from the grittier details.

Be as straightforward as possible if your child has questions. If she asks about your own experience with drugs or other addictions, it is best to tell the truth. Real stories can help her learn about consequences. Telling the truth about your imperfections  also establishes a safety net so your child is more likely to talk to you about her struggles.  By sharing information with your child you also reassure her that in life we have choices. Some of her choices could lead to problems, but making the right decisions will likely lead down a healthier path.

Tell Your Child That It’s Not Her Fault

Personality disorders often develop in people with an addiction, spurring them to say irrational things or lash out and blame others. Although addiction is no one’s fault, the addicted person is still responsible for their own behavior, and is the only person who can make recovery successful.  If an addict tells a child that she is the cause of the substance abuse, it is not true and it probably isn’t even how the addict really feels. Help your child understand that she shouldn’t carry a burden of guilt when loving someone with an addiction.

Find support

A support system is crucial in maintaining a sense of normalcy and stability in families. This may include a support group, friends, family and an accountability partner. Parents often face high levels of stress and need to make tough choices that will mold their child’s life. Parents need to seek support for themselves as well as for their children.

Addiction can affect everyone involved, especially a child who doesn’t fully grasp the concept of addiction. Offer support and protection to your child, repeating the fact that you love her. By talking openly about addiction, you can help her to grow up with the knowledge and confidence to just say no.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  February 20, 2018.

Revised for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Image Courtesy of Unsplash

3 Stress Relievers for Parents in Addiction Recovery

old shoes made into a flower planter

Being a parent is far from easy. Especially if you are a single parent who also is in addiction recovery. Parents are balancing meetings and therapy sessions with kids’ schedules and routines. They are making all the decisions and being the breadwinner, You face loads of stress each and every day.

Stress in Addiction Recovery

Stress takes its toll on parents in addiction recovery. You need to find ways to relieve your stress in healthy ways to avoid a relapse. Our X stress relievers will help.

Stick to a Daily Routine

While it may sound impossible to establish and stick to a daily routine, you need to make every effort to do so. A routine will help you keep track of where you need to be and when, and it will set a structured schedule for your children. Schedules and routines make children feel safe and secure. And, they help you relieve stress by knowing your responsibilities ahead of time. Daily routines also signify to your kids that you are reliable and accountable. This helps repair relationships with older children who may have been hurt emotionally by your addiction.

That’s not to say that your daily routine has to be rigid. You must allow for some flexibility because rigid schedules can be too demanding and often cause more stress. Kids also enjoy surprises every once in awhile. So, allow for special events on the weekend. Plan a special treat after dinner to reward academic or behavior improvements. Be ready to change your daily routine at certain times throughout the year. Expect change when school begins or ends, when kids start athletic or music lessons or programs, or when you join a support group.

Take Care of Yourself

Parents in addiction recovery often don’t prioritize their own health and well-being because they feel guilty for being an addict. They know they impacted their children with their previous self-destructive decisions and actions. However, stress takes a tremendous toll, especially on single parents’ health and must be managed if parents will be able to take care of their children properly.

Taking care of yourself should include eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. You can include your children in healthy eating by looking for and experimenting with recipes you find online. Cooking together teaches your children a new skill and provides you with quality time that will reduce your stress level. You also can exercise with your children. You could play football, baseball, or basketball, go for a family walk or bike ride. Try taking a hike, kayaking or fishing.

Enjoy Yourself Safely

Being a parent in addiction recovery does not mean that you cannot enjoy a night with friends or a social gathering. It is a good idea to relieve some stress and have some fun. It does, however, mean that you need to be smart about your choices and have a plan in place for maintaining your sobriety in tempting situations. If you are invited to a party that will put your sobriety at risk, take your own water or sparkling cider with you. Invite a friend who will keep you in check and who will not mind staying sober for the night with you. If you are concerned about being pressured to drink, tell people that you are a designated driver or that you don’t drink because you need to be available for your children.

It’s also a good idea to plan for a party or other tempting social situation by getting support ahead of time. If you are comfortable enough to do so, tell the party host that you are in recovery and ask whether nonalcoholic beverages will be served. You also can attend an extra meeting prior to the event or alert your sponsor to the event and make sure she will be available if you need her at the spur of the moment.

Parents in addiction recovery must manage their stress levels in healthy ways to maintain sobriety. Sticking to a daily routine, prioritizing self-care, and enjoying yourself safely are three great ways to relieve stress without putting your sobriety in jeopardy.

Blog  by guest contributor, Jackie Cortez of ThePreventionCoalition.org posted for Healthvista  8-5-17

Updated for readability by Mary Knutson 5-25-20

Anxiety: The Other Stage of Grief

Woman trying to find her way through woods

Sadness and anxiety often happen together. It’s common to feel anxiety after the death of a loved one. Grief and anxiety happen together. But, not much attention is given to this side of grief. When you’ve experienced a major loss, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost control and like the world is no longer the safe and normal place you once knew. When you pair these strong emotions of grief with feelings of helplessness, it’s easy for anxiety to grow.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety starts as extra worrying that interferes with your everyday life. You may feel a sense of dread or distress for no apparent reason, struggle with concentration, be irritable and on edge, and have trouble eating and sleeping. When anxiety is related to grief, it’s especially common to find yourself having obsessive thoughts. You may think about bad things happening to you or your loved ones. You may even face panic attacks where you have feelings of extreme fear, an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, sweating, and dizziness.

Why Does Grief Cause Anxiety?

When you lose someone close to you, especially if that loss is unexpected, your sense of safety in the world can be shaken to its core. Suddenly you feel powerless and aware of how fragile life is, in a way you’ve never thought of before. You may develop an intense fear of your own death, or begin to worry about how you will manage without your loved one. These feelings can be incredibly stressful, especially when paired with the usual symptoms of grief. You may even have anxiety triggered by a fear of your own grief emotions or a feeling that you’re not able to cope with your grief.

How to Cope?

Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy. Anxiety often comes on unexpectedly and it can be hard to figure out the cause. That makes it more difficult to prepare for or avoid. However, there are some things you can do to cope with anxiety when it hits.

When you feel anxiety coming on, try practicing deep belly breathing. Breathe in slowly, letting your chest and stomach rise as your lungs fill with air, and then breathe out slowly. Breathing deeply and focusing on your breath can help tone down your body’s stress response, heading off an anxiety attack before it starts.

If you find yourself unable to sleep because you can’t turn off your racing thoughts, try playing guided imagery recordings. By guiding your thoughts toward positive imagery and away from unwanted thoughts, guided imagery can help you relax and clear your mind.

Try creating an anchor thought. An anchor thought can help you manage your anxiety when it creeps in. It’s called an “anchor thought” because it helps anchor you to reality and keeps your mind from spiraling into anxious thinking. An anchor thought might involve recalling a happy memory and the positive feelings associated with it. Or, it might be a breathing exercise or mantra you repeat until you’re feeling better.

Consider Seeking Treatment

If your anxiety doesn’t get better as your grief fades, or if it’s interfering with your everyday life, it’s important to seek treatment from a mental health professional. You may choose to talk to a grief counselor, join a support group, seek medication from a psychiatrist, or all three. No matter what you choose, getting help for your anxiety is an important step you can take toward managing your grief.

Recognize Normal Emotions

Anxiety is a normal part of grief. Grief pushes you into a world of intense emotions where nothing feels certain except, perhaps, uncertainty itself. While grieving a loved one can be an incredibly isolating experience, it’s important to remember that intense reactions like anxiety and even depression are normal, and there are experienced professionals who know how to help.

Image via Pixabay by Unsplash

Blog by Jennifer Scott, guest contributor posted  3-13-17

Updated for readability 5-25-20 by Mary Knutson

Healing so Your Inner Child can be Free

Encourage Your Inner Child to be Free

football jersey girl with beads on and streaks of black makeup on cheeks

Healing, recovery, and coping involves taking care of ourselves and our “inner child”. Each of us has the desire to be cared for, loved and nurtured. That little child inside of you, (even when you are an adult), is called your “inner child.” Many people try to control their inner child, keeping them from truly being free to be themselves.  They may hide their inner child and make him or her invisible by:

Wearing one of these “masks”

  • “Fashion Show Plate” – Dressing up extremely fancy or carefully
  • “Make-up Artist” – Wearing too much make-up
  • “Body Perfect – Too much work on body shape and exercise
  • “Miss Manners” – Too much politeness
  • “The Blob” – Too much weight (obesity)
  • “The Glumstress” – Wearing drab colors
  • “The Overachiever” – Taking on all challenges
  • “The Daredevil”- Too much risk taking
  • “The Perfectionist” – Being obsessive or fixated on details

Masking your inner child:

People Pleasing –Always giving people what they want to please them, gain approval, and avoid conflict

Entertaining – Being the “life of the party” by making jokes, being a clown, and making other people happy without being sensitive to your own needs or feelings

Withdrawal, pulling in or nonfeeling – Holding back any emotional responses to make sure no one gets to know how you feel

Looking good – Being sure to look good by overachieving, being perfect, and doing only what seems to be the right thing

Enabling, or rescuing– By always focusing your attention and energies on the needs of others, you keep the focus off of yourself to the point that you can’t identify anything you need to work on yourself – You are out of touch with who you are.

Passive aggressive – Agreeing to go along with requests or orders when you disagree and have no plan to follow through

Jumping to negative assumptions – Assuming the worst about what others think and plan to do, you give other people power over you. Many people who have negative thinking hide their true selves to avoid conflict

Acting out, troubled person – Being a person who draws attention to your negative behaviors, you try to hide your real self who is sensitive and needy

Healing to overcome “invisibility” and becoming free to be yourself:

  • Believe that you and your inner child deserve respect.
  • Give yourself the nurturing, caring, love, forgiveness, and respect needed to heal.
  • Let go of self-pity over being neglected or abused as a child, and take charge of your life.
  • Create a bond between the adult you, and your inner child (to give you a sense of security and self-confidence).
  • Like your inner child, you may think, “All I want is to have someone hug me and tell me they are proud of me. Why can’t it happen?”
  • Instead, give yourself a hug every day, know your strengths, and be kind to yourself.
  • Say, “I am proud of me!”

Revised from Messina, J. J. & Messina, C. (2010). Growing down: Tools for healing the inner child. Retrieved from http://jamesjmessina.com/growingdowninnerchild/innerchild.html

Blog #11 written 1-23-16 by Mary Knutson RN for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated for readability 5-25-20

Nurturing and Healing Your Inner Child

Overhanging tree At the side of a creek
Play with your inner child at the side of a creek

Every child deserves  nurturing and security, but some children don’t have it.  Each of us has the desire to be cared for, loved and nurtured. That little child inside of you that needs healing, (even when you are an adult), is called your “inner child” or your inner spirit.  Sometimes, the people who raised you aren’t capable of giving the love and support that you deserved. Healing can happen if you direct caring thoughts and behaviors inward toward the child inside of you.

Your inner child is a free spirit that is emotional, sensitive, fun-loving, joyful, imaginative, and creative.

Finding your inner child:

  • Your childhood spirit may have been tamed, lost, or forgotten, but it is still somewhere inside you.
  • It can influence our decisions, even when we are unaware, because our inner child is part of our beliefs about ourselves.
  • That inner child may need healing and support if it was hurt, neglected, frustrated, or abused during childhood. Even if you have masked, or hidden the inner child, it may be causing you to be worried and fearful of being treated badly.
  • People often ignore their inner child if they have felt guilty or “not good enough.”
  • Our inner child may be hidden if we had to pretend our family was happy and healthy, even when it wasn’t.
  • Sometimes when we dream or daydream, we can picture what the little child is like.

We know our inner child is active when we:

  • Lose ourselves in fun
  • Enjoy playing with games, toys, or pets
  • Get emotional looking at old photo albums, scrapbooks or home movies about our childhood
  • Still think as a child does, seeking to please parents or extended families

Instead of nurturing and healing, many people hid their inner child and make him or her invisible by:

  • Wearing one of these “masks”
    • “Fashion Show Plate” – Dressing up extremely fancy or carefully
    • “Make-up Artist” – Wearing too much make-up
    • “Body Perfect – Too much work on body shape and exercise
    • “Miss Manners” – Too much politeness
    • “The Blob” – Too much weight (obesity)
    • “The Glumstress” – Wearing drab colors
    • “The Overachiever” – Taking on all challenges
    • “The Daredevil”- Too much risk taking
    • “The Perfectionist” – Being obsessive or fixated on details

Nurturing and healing your inner child:

Nurturing to overcome “Invisibility”

  • Believe that you and your inner child deserve respect.
  • Give yourself the nurturing, caring, love, forgiveness, and respect needed to heal.
  • Let go of self-pity over being neglected or abused as a child, and take charge of your life.
  • Create a bond between the adult you, and your inner child (to give you a sense of security and self-confidence).
  • Like your inner child, you may think, “All I want is to have someone hug me and tell me they are proud of me. Why can’t it happen?”
  • Instead, give yourself a hug every day, know your strengths, and be kind to yourself.
  • Say, “I am proud of me!”

Revised from Messina, J. J. & Messina, C. (2010). Growing down: Tools for healing the inner child,  Retrieved from http://jamesjmessina.com/growingdowninnerchild/innerchild.html

 

Blog # 10  by Mary Knutson 1-18-16 for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated for readability 5-25-20

Emotions and Eating

angry toast
Person holding a piece of burnt toast in front of his face with a sad smiley face cut out of it

Emotional Eating during the Holidays and beyond:

After the holiday season many of us find our pants fitting a little tighter and our bellies looking a little rounder. The holidays are an amazing time filled with family, fun, friends and of course food (especially the kind that we try to avoid all the other times of the year). Emotions and eating can be connected, making it difficult to avoid overeating during emotional times. Either good or bad emotions can contribute to emotional eating.

Once the holidays are over and reality kicks back in we can take a step back and work harder to avoid overeating. Then, start fresh as you leave behind the holidays and the emotions that they bring. But it can be difficult to avoid emotional eating all year long.

Connections between emotions and eating:

Food and feelings go together. We tend to link food with enjoyment, affection, and nurturing. Food is usually part of emotion-filled events, either happy or unhappy ones. Eating for comfort is a common behavior that comes from a deep connection within us. However, many people eat in response to emotions rather than hunger. If you are overweight, ask yourself if emotional eating is an issue for you.

How to improve control of emotions and eating:

Mindfulness and other cognitive skills (the way that you think) can help limit emotional eating. It can help a lot if you learn to cope better with the ups and downs of daily life, and don’t think that everything needs to be perfect.

Learn how to eat healthier to improve your well-being and your mood. Recognize and avoid any “triggers” you have. A trigger food can set off a “binge” of eating, no matter what your mood is. Examples include ice cream, cookies, nuts, potato chips.

Eat when physically hungry and stop when you are full:

We often respond to the sight of food with the impulse to devour it – whether or not we are actually hungry. We miss the subtle feelings of hunger and fullness if we don’t slow down to finish chewing and swallowing before we pick up the next bite. It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal its fullness. By eating fast, you are likely to overeat.

Try eating mindfully by savoring the sight, smell, texture, and color of the food. Think about the connection to the outside world, the taste and feel of the food as you eat it slowly.  Stop eating when you are satisfied, even if you haven’t finished what is on your plate. You can put it away and eat it later when you are hungry again,

Work to understand the connection between emotions and eating, to help you succeed in maintaining healthy habits and a healthy weight.

Blog #9 by Mary B. Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated  5-25-20

Coping with the Holidays

Old-fashioned Christmas Holiday tree

The holidays can be a stressful and hectic time of year.  It is important to find ways of coping and surviving the holidays. They seem to come so fast and it can seem like a letdown when they are over.

Ways of Coping

I have been trying to manage during the holiday season by being more mindful and grateful.  So far, it is helping. I also realize that I am not perfect and my family gatherings won’t be either. I have been using candles and scents more. Making efforts to add relaxation to my days or evenings has also been helpful for me.

More Resources for Coping:

On my website, www.healthvista.net,  I have several engaging Powerpoints written by Shari Cavadini, a registered nurse I used to work with.

One of those presentations can be helpful this time of year. It is called 12 Ways to Cope with the Holidays.  You can find it on the website or at the link below.

https://healthvista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/12WaystoCopewiththeHolidays.pdf

The Coping and Relaxation Workbook can also help you cope with the Holiday, or at any time of the year.

As you use your own (both old and new) ways of coping, I hope you can feel the peace and joy of the season!

 

Blog #8 12/10/15 by Mary Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20

Your Strengths for Recovery

A little gray kitten looking strong

Everyone has strengths

Knowing your strengths can help you be more confident with a more positive attitude.  Strength-based recovery uses your goals and talents to help you get through rough times.  First, start with what you already have and then build on them to gain insight, ability, and power that can help you make healthy changes.

As we grow in age, we also have the chance to develop and improve.  Focusing on your strengths instead of weaknesses can help you toward recovery.

The tiny kitten in the picture above doesn’t look like he has many strengths, but he did. He grew up to be a large, healthy cat named Duke.  He stayed playful and sweet, but he became strong, agile, and wise.

What strengths do you have?

See some common ones listed below (and you may add others). Notice the ones that you have. After that, think about which ones you would like to improve on:

  • Curiosity, or love of learning
  • Persistence
  • Kindness
  • Social intelligence
  • Humility
  • Self-control
  • Gratitude
  • Hopefulness
  • Able to adapt
  • Able to cope well
  • Express emotions well
  • Assertive
  • Courageous
  • Creative
  • Energetic or active
  • Having faith or spirituality
  • Future or goal oriented
  • Being a good citizen or team player
  • Good sense of humor
  • Intelligent or wise
  • Motivated
  • Open-minded
  • Polite or kind
  • Realistic
  • Resourceful
  • Responsible or trustworthy
  • Self-reliant
  • Sensitive
  • Strong support system
  • Thoughtful
  • Having zest for life

Your strengths for recovery:

Strength-based Recovery promotes resilience and self-acceptance, improving empowerment in recovery. And, it helps you succeed in challenging situations that may seem hopeless or helpless.

Build hope from within. Look at past successes and promote change by asking:

  • What has worked before?
  • What has not worked?

Remember that you are unique – Your strengths and weaknesses are not the same as anyone else’s .  By looking at your own set of strengths, a realistic, specific plan can be made to develop them. Then, allow your strengths to help you and your situation as you recover.

 

Blog # 7 written 12-6-15 by Mary Knutson of Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20

Reflections on Emotional Eating

Red geranium flowers on white outdoor background

Wanting to eat when not physically hungry:

I have a problem with emotional eating. I have the urge to taste almost any food that is around, and to eat too much of the “comfort foods” that I love. Sometimes when I am upset, I have been known to have a “binge” by eating way too much of something. In the past, I have eaten several servings at a time of cereal, chips, pizza, candy, or cookies. I used to take a bag of chocolate chips, out of the freezer to eat.

But I can control it better now that I recognize what is happening and I cope with the problems that are making me feel like bingeing.  I also avoid keeping “trigger foods” in the house.  Those strategies  helped me to lose weight and to stay at a healthier weight for several years.

This Emotional Eating Handout describes what I learned about how your mood can affect what you eat.

Food and feelings go together:

  • We tend to link food with enjoyment, affection, and nurturing
  • Food is usually part of emotion-filled events, either happy or unhappy ones
  • Eating for comfort is a common behavior that comes from a deep connection within us
  • Some people eat in response to emotions rather than hunger
  • If you are overweight, ask yourself if emotional eating is an issue for you

Mindfulness skills can develop ways to cope:

  • Cope better with the daily ups and downs of daily life
  • Recognize and avoid black-and-white thinking (where things and actions are looked at as being good or bad, right or wrong)
  • Avoid thinking that things should be perfect
  • Use coping skills for self-control when dealing with food temptations and relapses
  • Get the help you need for problem-solving

Mood and weight changes:

    • Food choices affect mood in positive or negative ways
    • Learn how to eat healthier to improve your mood
    • Hormones affect mood – Examples are cortisol (from adrenal glands) or estrogen (a female sex hormone)

For a more wide-ranging discussion of nutrition, also see https://healthvista.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ExploringNutritionIcebreakersDiscussionGuide.pdf

“Triggers” for emotional eating:

  • Recognize and avoid any “triggers” you have
  • A trigger food can set off a “binge” of eating, no matter what your mood is – Examples include ice cream, cookies, nuts, potato chips
  • Trigger foods are not the same as favorite foods, comfort foods, or food cravings
  • A trigger feeling is an emotion, good or bad, that leads to overeating – Any available food will do
  • A trigger environment is a specific place or setting that leads to overeating – Examples include movie theaters, buffet restaurants, sporting events or social gatherings
  • Eating triggers do happen – They are a sign to stop and think about how you can avoid them from happening in the future

Understand the connection between emotions and eating, to help you succeed in maintaining a healthy weight

Weight Watchers Research Department. (2009). Emotional eating, Mind skills for lasting weight loss, Mood and weight, and Eating triggers retrieved from www.weightwatchers.com

Mindfulness instead of emotional eating:

People tend to eat mindlessly most of the time. When “chowing down,” we are usually thinking about other things and not really tasting our food.

We often respond to the sight of food with the impulse to devour it – whether or not we are actually hungry.

We miss the subtle feelings of fullness if we don’t slow down to finish chewing and swallowing before we pick up the next bite

It takes 20 minutes for your body to signal its fullness. By eating fast, you are likely to overeat.

Try eating mindfully by savoring the sight, smell, texture, the color and light on the food, the connection to the outside world, the taste and feel of the food as you eat it slowly.

In mindfulness retreats, the meals are usually served in silence. That way, you can think about the food and the efforts that went into growing and preparing it.

You may feel satisfied without eating as much food as you have been eating. You can practice mindful eating when you eat alone or in silence.

Siegel, R. (2010). The mindfulness solution: Everyday practices for everyday problems, p. 261-264. New York: Guilford Press

Being mindful and aware of emotional eating can really help you make healthier habits. Call a friend when you feel like bingeing. If there is something upsetting you, figure out what to do and write it down (or do it). Take a walk or do some exercises. Take a bath or shower. Get busy doing something that takes your mind off your cravings.

You can get past it if you resist for a few minutes.  If you are physically satisfied and no longer hungry, push away from the table and put the food away.  The urges will weaken and go away.  You are more in control than you think!

Blog #6  By Mary Knutson RN, MSN for Health Vista, Inc.

Updated 5-25-20