Doing Life Together

Press-Pause-mediumJoanne looked at the chocolate-covered donut in her hand. As she took her first bite, she wondered, “Why am I eating this? I”m not really hungry, but the plate of goodies sitting by the office coffee pot just looks good. Besides, my boss is making me crazy!

But is there more to the story?

For most of us, YES. We eat out of emotions. When something is eating us, we eat!

All too often overeating is triggered by stress, boredom, loneliness, anger, depression and other emotions. During the holidays, these emotions can ramp up for all kinds of reasons–stress, family, finances, etc.

So the importance of learning to deal with emotions without food is a significant skill that will greatly serve long term weight control.  The key is to identify our eating triggers and respond to them without food.

An exercise that often helps is to take a sheet of paper and write headings of SITUATION, THOUGHT, EMOTION and BEHAVIOR. Then every time you eat something when you are not hungry, fill out this sheet.

What was the situation (e.g., with a friend, sitting alone in front of the TV, arguing with my boss, family conflict, etc.)?

What was the thought that ran through your mind (e.g., This is never going to be better, I can’t believe what a jerk he is right now, I hate myself, etc.)?

What was the emotion (e.g., anxious, upset, anger, frustration, etc.)?

What was the behavior (e.g., ate the donut, binged on candy, second helping, etc.)?

Once you track your eating like this for a week or so, you will probably see a pattern. For example, I eat when I am bored or I overeat every time I am with Sue. Then you can make some changes by being more intentional when those cues or triggers present.

Research shows that people who can track their eating like this, demonstrated a better rate of long-term weight loss maintenance than those who simply diet and/or exercise and don’t address behavioral and emotional issues.  Chronic overeaters and “emotional eaters” can be significantly helped by learning new behavioral skills like this one.

If you really feel stuck in this area of overeating, seek help from a licensed counselor or psychologist in your area. Also, take a look at my book, Press Pause Before  You Eat. This holiday season, don’t let what’s eating you, lead you to overeat!

BFS_Depression_LG_2It’s the most wonderful time of the year….well, not for everyone.

Holidays can be difficult if you struggle with your mood and family issues. However, there are proactive ways to keep your spirit bright.

1) Don’t overspend. Avoid being caught up in all the deals, discounts and e-shopping. Financial problems can be a real downer when those bills start rolling in. So curb the spending. Have a budget and stick to it.

2) Moderate your eating and drinking. Too much alcohol can bring on depression. Too much sugar and fat make you tired!

3) Examine your expectations. If you  have family problems, they don’t disappear during the holidays. Sometimes they worsen. So have a plan as to how you will deal with your family. What is realistic?

4) Set boundaries and limits so you are not overwhelmed with stress. Taking on too much and running around with no down time can lead to a mood crash.

5) Don’t isolate. Force yourself to go out, to attend holiday parties, church activities and community events. Being with people prevents loneliness.

6) If you know you are going to have a tough time, get support. For example, if you have been sober for months, attend AA during holidays. Don’t neglect your meetings.

7) Reach out to someone else. The best way to combat a down mood is to do something for someone else. Serve at a soup kitchen, volunteer to usher at church, participate in caroling at a nursing home, etc.

8) Refuse to be the grinch. Change your negative talk to positive talk. Force yourself to see the upside of life, not the downside. Grab hold of those negative thoughts and turn them around by being thankful.

9) Focus on the true meaning of the season. It’s hard to be down when you read the Christmas story and meditate on what Christ did for you. Get away from the commercialism and spend time with God.

10) Enjoy the moment. Sometime we get so caught up in what needs to be done, we lose the moment.  Let go of perfectionism and savor moments by your tree, with a loved one or walking in a beautiful park.

ID-100101921Are you dreading that trip in the car to grandparents?

Is the hype of the holidays overstimulating your children?

Too  much sugar, too little sleep?

Try these 6 tips:


1) Routines and rituals: Try to keep as many going as you can. Even when you travel, insist on a regular bedtime. Take their favorite toy, stuffed animal or blanket for reassurance and familiarity. I f possible, make naps a priority and plan around them. Whatever you can do to approximate their normal schedule will help.


2) Choose TV and videos carefully. Pick shows and videos that are calming and present the true meaning of Christmas. If you can record shows, bypass commercials so that the constant barrage of toys is minimized. Limit time in front of screens and take your kids out to exercise and work off some of their excitement and energy.


3) Insist on healthy eating despite the extra snacks. Prepare meals versus grabbing fast food on the run. Allow special treats but monitor how many are consumed.


4) Inform your kids regarding activities. Tell them where you are going and what is expected in terms of their behavior. Ahead of time, discuss rewards for appropriate behavior rather than waiting to discipline for acting out.


5) Keep as many family traditions as possible as these are comforting to children.


6) Laugh as a family. The more fun and laughter in a home, the less stressed everyone will be.


Notice that all of these tips focus on keeping routines, eating well and getting rest—three known ways to help a child with his or her behavior. If you provide these basics, the extra stress of the holidays will go better for all of you.



PressPauseb4youeatI know, the Christmas cookies are everywhere. There are candies, special coffees, extra treats….all temptations to indulge.

So before you dive into that third cookie, ask yourself, “Do I really want to eat this? Will I be upset and sorry later?” If the answer is, “No, I’ll be upset later,” here are 10 tips to help you resist too many treats. It’s not that you can’t indulge! But you need to stay in control of the eating rather than the eating controlling you!

1) Don’t go hungry to party events. Drink a glass of water or eat a small piece of fruit before you go. A ravenous appetite makes it hard to resist the seductive presentation of holiday foods.


  • 2) Find the vegetable tray and stay close to it. If you feel the urge to nibble, hang out next to the low cal options and nibble away!
  • 3) Bring a low cal food item to an event. If you bring something you like that is low cal, you know there will be something healthy to choose from among all the items.
  • 4) Don’t have food items on your desk or out in a public area. Seeing is inviting. If the candy is on your desk, you will probably eat too many pieces. Hide it in a drawer, cupboard and bring it out for guests.
  • 5) Walk away.  Remove yourself from the source of the temptation. Don’t stare at it and try to exert willpower. Move away!
  • 6) Press pause before you eat. Yes, it is the name of my book but it works. Stop, think and decide. Tell yourself you can have the food item. But ask, “Will I be sorry later?”
  •  7) Focus on the people at an event and not the food. Try to mingle and involve yourself in conversation versus isolating yourself at the food tables.
  • 8) Try not to eat because you feel uncomfortable or anxious. Food events are social events and people eat to decrease anxiety. Prepare a strategy ahead of time, “If I begin to feel anxious or uncomfortable, I will…”
  • 9) Try to not eat because you feel out of control. The holidays can be overwhelming. Sometimes we grab food because we feel out of control and it is momentarily comforting. But when you eat out of control, it only adds to the feeling.
  • 10) If you overdo it, don’t get crazy. Just regroup after the event and cut back at the next few meals. Too many people say, “Oh I really blew it so I might as well continue to eat.” That’s the wrong approach. Instead say, “OK I blew it but I can get back in control and cut back on the next few meals.”