Have you ever struggled with emotional eating or food cravings from stress?
Many of us have. They can be two of the biggest hurdles in any weight loss journey.
Part of the problem is people lack practical strategies for dealing with these obstacles. I wanted to bring Dr. Allan Bacon onto the podcast to help remedy that.
In case you’re not familiar with him, Allan is a certified personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, a certified USA powerlifting, physique, and bodybuilding coach, and a certified nutritionist. He has also been formulating supplements professionally for over a decade.
Specializing in personalized fitness and nutrition programming, Allan’s coaching experience extends from the average Joe to Arnold Classic competitors and American record-holding weightlifters. So, he knows how to work with people of all types and get results.
In our conversation, Allan and I discuss . . .
The concept of emotional eating and how it differs from physical hunger
Practical tools and tips for controlling cravings and managing emotional eating
How to handle common emotional eating triggers and dealing with unsupportive friends or family
Common life stressors that lead to emotional eating and positive ways to manage stress effectively
The impact of emotional eating and stress on weight loss journeys and the importance of self-empathy and understanding
And more . . .
So, if you’re looking for effective ways to manage emotional eating and beat cravings and stress-related barriers to your weight loss goals, don’t miss this conversation with Dr. Allan Bacon!
0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!
3:43 – What is emotional eating?
7:12 – What are some other tips that can help people deal with emotional eating?
8:50 – What are some common triggers?
13:26 – How do you deal with outside influences when they don’t agree with your lifestyle?
21:47 – What are some common life stressors that you help your clients with?
31:11 – BOGO 50% Off! buylegion.com
32:51 – What are some positive ways people can deal with stress?
38:19 – What are some practical tools to manage emotional hunger and cravings?
01:02:20 – What are your thoughts on waiting 15 minutes before indulging?
01:07:02 – Where can people find you and your work?
Mentioned on the Show:
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Hello, I am Mike Matthews, and this is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode on the topic of emotional eating. Have you ever struggled with that? Have you ever struggled with food cravings that were not caused by, let’s say, a long period of cutting where you had to avoid certain foods that you normally like to eat simply because they contain too many calories and progressively developed a a hankering for them?
That’s normal and expected, and you can avoid that just by having those foods now and then in moderation. But in the case of emotional eating, you have food cravings that are caused by stress or caused by other emotional or psychological triggers. As opposed to just physiological hunger and restriction.
And so in today’s episode, you’re going to learn what emotional eating is. How does it differ from regular eating? How does emotional hunger differ from just physical hunger? And you’re gonna learn some practical strategies for dealing with emotional eating. And in my experience working with many people over the years, many more people could achieve their fitness goals faster if they had these strategies.
They are dealing with emotional eating to some degree, it is impairing their progress to some degree, whether they realize it or not. And while human psychology is very complex and psychological problems are notoriously. Thorny. Fortunately, there are some simple evidence-based methods of dealing with emotional eating that can greatly reduce the severity of the problem, maybe not eliminate it all together, but make it much less of a problem than it currently is.
And in today’s episode, you’re going to be learning from Dr. Allen Bacon, who is a certified personal trainer. He is a certified U S A powerlifting, physique and bodybuilding coach, and he is a certified nutritionist. He also has been formulating evidence-based supplements for over a decade now and shares many of my positions, my opinions on supplementation.
In general, it’s not necessary for losing fat, building muscle, getting healthy, but the right supplements can help. And many sports supplements, especially many popular ones like BCAs and eaas and collagen protein and electrolytes and on and on are mostly useless. They really should not exist. Those products don’t accomplish the quote unquote jobs that people are hiring them for.
There are much better options to accomplish those jobs. And so anyway, coming back on topic here in this episode, you are going to learn how to recognize and how to resolve some of those common emotional eating triggers that make fitness journeys, particularly weight loss journeys more difficult than they need to be.
Hello, Alan. Good afternoon.
Hey Mike. Thanks for having me.
Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for taking the time to come on and talk to us about emotional eating, which is, uh, an issue that I think more people run into than they may realize, or, or then than may want to admit it. Even big bad alpha males run into this, this issue sometimes.
So I thought it would be, uh, whereas the, the same guys would maybe consider that like, oh, that, that’s a, that’s like a girl’s problem. Like no, not, not really, actually. So I wanted to have a discussion with you about this topic. It’s a perennial topic. It’s an issue that people will probably always struggle with.
Some people to some degree. Maybe a good place to start is, is simply to. Tell us what emotional eating is. How does that differ from being hungry and needing to eat food?
So that’s actually two questions and and we can address both. Emotional eating itself is usually a response to manage emotions of some kind.
This habit usually involves eating to soothe, which turns into emotional eating when we don’t learn how to manage those emotions. Now, the difference between regular eating and emotional eating is essentially there’s the difference between emotional and physical hunger, because we experience those in different manners.
Now, emotional eating or emotional hunger tends to come on. Suddenly it’s incident overwhelming and feeling, and it’s unrelated to the time of your most recent meals. You know, that’s one of the easier ways to identify what’s going on there is that if you’ve had a meal recently and then all of a sudden you’re really hungry again, there’s probably an emotional component there, because satiety will usually last a little bit of time, and that can give you some insight on what’s going on.
Emotional hunger also doesn’t necessarily go away after eating. It’s something that often leads to mindless eating and it isn’t located in the stomach. It is something that tends to be more mental than anything else. There’s no pain in the stomach or growling in the belly like there is with physical hunger.
And it’s more in your head, you’re more focused on just having food rather than a attempting to beat an actual hunger of some kind. And the other thing that tends to set them apart is emotional hunger often leads to guilt and anxiety, whereas physical hunger doesn’t tend to do that. You know, you’re unlikely to feel ashamed when eating for physical hunger reasons as opposed to eating for emotional hunger reasons.
The interesting thing about emotional eating and cravings, because people tend to kind of group those into the same thing, even though they’re slightly different, cravings are a bit different because emotional eating can often exhibit cravings, but the cravings tend to hit when. You believe that certain foods are unavailable or prohibited, it’s the feelings of restriction that cause this.
And this leads to a drive for specific high reward foods where you focus on taste, texture, the experience of eating something. And even though cravings can come with emotional eating, it isn’t always the case. It isn’t always necessary that those two are together.
Something that, um, meno Henman’s, it just pops into my mind that had mentioned on one of my talks with him, is a good way that he, or a good little technique he uses for determining the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger.
Uh, or just the psychological desire to eat is if you imagine that you had a, a bowl of boiled beans in front of you, would you eat? The beans, if you would, there’s a fair chance it’s physical hunger. If you wouldn’t, there’s a fair chance that it’s emotional hunger.
I actually like that a lot. I use something similar with my clients.
I call it the apple test. And that’s, it uses the same fundamental, you know, would an Apple solve this problem? And you know, when you’re craving donuts and someone’s like, would an apple work? It’s usually like, hell no, that’s not gonna work. And so you can say, okay, well we can take a step back. We can realize that, hey, there’s something else going o on here other than hunger.
And then that gives you the ability to think about it and make some decisions to best give you what you want. And the biggest thing with, with dealing with emotional hunger is taking control. And so if you have an issue with emotional hunger, using some tips or tricks such as the Apple test or we can call it the bean test, gives you a little bit of that knowledge to be able to take the step back and gain some control over a situation rather than giving into the emotions themselves.
I definitely wanna get into some practical tips, but now that we’ve started I have to, I have to ask, what are a few other things that people can do to help deal with that emotional urge to eat?
So, the way that I work with my clients, I like to, I like to set people up to prep yourself to deal with emotional eating first, and that begins with accepting that your feelings are normal.
I think that a lot of people will take this upon themselves, particularly when this is an emotional thing, it almost feels like a failing. And so acknowledging the fact that these are normal is the first step. After that, it helps to view it as a third person. And I say that because we tend to give a lot of grace to a friend of ours or to someone that we know that we wouldn’t give to ourselves.
If you are working an office job and you constantly have friends bringing in snacks or candy and maybe your job is emotionally difficult, maybe it’s stressful, um, you know, people will tend to eat to tend to reach for those things that are close at hand and um, they’ll get really down on themselves. And if a friend was explaining the situation to you, you wouldn’t say, oh, you know, you’re hopeless.
This is a problem. You should do better. You would say, Hey, look, this is understandable. You would empathize with that person and, um, you know, offer some. Some suggestions that you might have. It’s funny because we don’t do that to ourselves. So one of the things that I like to have people do is say, okay, well if this is a third party person, what would you recommend in that situation?
Then that can kind of guide you into some specific avenues that you can look into to help yourself out Before getting into exact things that to do to manage cravings and emotional eating, I like to try to establish ways to manage stress first. Because emotional eating is often brought on by stress. So if we start to focus on the root cause,
you read my mind cause I wanted to, let’s zoom out for a second here and talk about like what are some common triggers of emotional eating?
What makes this so difficult for some people? Some people really do struggle with this more than others. And yeah, some of that higher level stuff I think would be very helpful. In addition to the more tactical how-to,
yeah, I mean I think this is a good place to start before we get into the exact things to manage common triggers, it negative emotions tend to be the common triggers of emotional eating, feelings of inadequacy, feelings of loss of control, maladaptive stress response.
And you know, this is one of the things that you had wanted to talk about at at some point was the myths, surrounding myths surrounding this. And not to jump around too much, but this is relevant to this part of the conversation. I think a lot of people will lump in boredom in into an emotional eating type of cause.
And I think that that might be a little bit of a folly at first. Because typically if you’re bored, you try to find something that’s interesting to do. Now, boredom can lead to emotional eating, but boredom only tends to lead to emotional eating. When. It threatens you with feelings emotionally if, if you’re bored and that boredom makes you feel unimportant or inadequate, maybe you’re bored because your friends didn’t invite you out, or maybe you’re bored because you know you don’t have a significant other to spend time with.
Then boredom does potentially lead to emotional eating, but boredom itself isn’t necessarily a big cause there. So I think that really focusing on what are some of these negative emotions that are happening in your life, that’s when you can identify, okay, well what are my triggers for this? And again, once you start to understand the base, and that’s why we’re kind of going in this direction that we’re going, we’re starting with kind of the the macro and then we’ll build down to the specific management strategies.
When you understand what’s causing these things, that gives you a lot more power to choose the right management strategy to use for you. One of the questions that you said was, why is it so difficult for some people to manage emotional eating? I like to point out that it’s a learned response, and this is, it’s ultimately a really good thing.
There was a study by hurl and colleagues in 2018 where they used a large twin cohort. This gives some really good insight here. What they did was they took, uh, sets of twins and they controlled environmental factors around them. And then they tried to see, okay, well, who is going to experience more examples of emotional eating?
And what they found was environmental factors and life experiences explain nearly all of a person’s eating response to emotional stress, not genetics. And I always like to bring this up when we talk about this because it almost is scientific proof. As good as scientific proof can be that you are not doomed by your genetics to fall into this.
This is a learned response. And just like any learned response, if you take a learned response, if you learn something, you can actually unlearn. And so this gives you hope for the future. So, We’ve got a bunch of things going on. We’ve got, you know, stress that we need to manage. We’ve got old habits that we need to break.
And before we get into those specific management strategies for cravings themselves, what I like to do is a specific grounding technique called 5 4, 3, 2, 1, anxiety, uh, relief with my clients. And there are a variety of these techniques out there that can get you to some level of groundedness or, or some level of stress relief.
And I think that using these first can help remove these types of emotional eatings way before you even have to manage them. And if you can do that, that’s great. If this doesn’t work, that’s okay. There are still management techniques after this. But first, try to address your stress itself. And with 5, 4, 3 to one, it uses the common five senses that we always talk about, and it brings you more into the, now it’s a mindfulness exercise.
And so initially you pick five things in the room that you can see. Then you move on to four things that you can touch, three things that you can hear, two that you can smell and one that you can taste. And by making you take a step back by making you realize what’s going on around you, it breaks that cycle of, oh, I need to deal with these negative emotions, or, oh, these cravings are kicking in.
And it gives you a another chance to deal with that before you have to specifically manage the cravings or the emotional eating itself. And I think that whenever we talk about these types of things, whenever we talk about emotional eating or whenever people get onto this, this topic, I think that people really jump in to managing the cravings themselves without saying, Hey, hey, let’s try to address these root causes first, or at least understand these root causes because I think that that’s the step one.
And then if that doesn’t work, at least you have a guideline of, okay, well that didn’t work. Let’s go on to what’s next. And maybe you’ll be able to find a routine that works specifically for you, because not everything’s gonna work for everybody, but at least you’ll have some choices to go to.
And sometimes there are situations.
Maybe difficult situations in life that need to be addressed. That, I mean, I think it’s great to have simple mindfulness exercise that can kind of bring you at least outta your head for a moment back into your present environment, so to speak. And I’m, I’m just, I’m just speaking from personal experience in my life and what I’ve seen in many other people’s lives.
And then sometimes though there are, again, situations, it could be circumstances related to, I mean, the common things are people in our, in our lives, work related things. Sometimes it’s, it’s physical health related things, things that are causing stress that maybe we have avoided for too long or are, we’re just not entirely aware of.
Hadn’t really. Thought about or maybe even kept a simple log of what happened throughout the week, how did that make you feel? Look back over that. See a pattern. Hmm. Interesting. Whenever I’m around this person, I don’t feel good. Why is that? What’s going on here? Oh, this is a, a friend who’s always kind of cutting me down with, uh, and just random examples that, that happen in people’s lives.
And that, that’s just something that, what are your thoughts on, on that? That, that’s, that’s harder, obviously than a, a mindfulness exercise or food management strategies, but it’s something that I. Do try to keep in mind, just in my own life as it relates to my own health and happiness and wellness, is sometimes it’s actually easier in the end to address the physical reality as opposed to how I am responding to the physical reality.
Because the physical reality is it needs to be addressed. Like there’s something that is really not optimal here. What are your thoughts on that?
I mean, I think that the whole idea of understanding your specific stressors is key. And I think that’s probably the first step at, at managing cravings and emotional eating.
So what you’re talking about with keeping a diary essentially of experiences is the first thing that I would recommend after you’ve tried to attempt to remove anxiety in your own way, either use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique that I talked about. Figure out something that you like to do. You know, go read a book, go play video games, go do whatever you like to do.
That relieves stress. Breathing exercises are wonderful. Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot of books on mindfulness that can help a lot too, because they can put you in the right head space. I think after all that’s out of the way. I think that the first thing is exactly what you touched on, Mike. I think that was beautiful food diary.
Is an invaluable piece of the puzzle to be able to identify this, and I don’t care who you are. I think that this is something that, at least for a short term, four weeks, eight weeks, is something that everybody should do if they struggle with cravings or emotional eating, because I think that self-monitoring and identifying your triggers can be a really important thing.
You had mentioned a few different ones, and I kind of want to key in on one, and it almost sounded like, and correct me if I’m wrong, it almost sounded like you were talking about people in your lives that weren’t necessarily as supportive of what you’re trying to to do as you are.
Yep. Well, the, what I hear from a lot of people, the, the trickiest ones are friends, quote unquote in family who are not supportive, and then even trickier than that are the ones who pretend to be supportive.
But, but actually they’re not really happy to see you improve. They would rather continue to see you as the old you that made them feel better about themselves. Those people, they don’t openly antagonize you or try to stop you, uh, in the way that others will. They pretend like they’re on your side. So it’s insidious.
It’s that passive aggressive support.
I, I hate those people. I am, I am ruthless about just not associating myself with those types of people.
There’s a lot of ways to deal with this, right? And that’s probably one of the, the fail safes is just don’t associate with those people. But the reality is you can’t always do that with every person.
Yep. I mean, maybe other also, sorry, one other thing I just popped in my mind when people, they share their stories with me is also at work, it might be their boss or it might be a, a coworker who they’re, they have to work with if they’re gonna remain in that job and just find another job isn’t necessarily the solution.
It’s always Deborah. Yeah. She’s always causing those problems. So what I like to do is I, I actually have an entire list of, of those types of things too, on how to deal with lifestyle criticism, because that’s essentially what it is. It’s lifestyle criticism. And, um, the first thing that I would do is I would, as a person who’s experiencing this, remind yourself that this probably has more to do with them than you.
And this probably has more to do with them because this is triggering feelings of either inadequacy or it’s making them feel guilty that they’re not attempting this or it’s, I see this a lot with significant others, you know, like a girl will be working with me and the boyfriend’s kind of doing this, and they get a little bit worried that like, you know, either is she, is she trying to be better than me or does she want me to do this and I don’t really wanna do this?
I think that the first thing that you do is, one, figure out how important this person is to you. Because one, I don’t want you to waste time putting a ton of effort into this, into Deborah, but you probably do want to put some time into your family, into your significant other, into your close circle of friends.
And so when you find that a person is like this, one of the best things that you can do is actually conscript them. Bring them in as part of the process. Tell them, I don’t expect you to change. This is something that’s entirely for me. Explain to them why you want to do it, not just the surface reason.
Don’t say, don’t say bullshit, like, I want to get to 185 pounds. Nobody cares what that means. Say I wanna lose some body fat because it’s gonna make me feel better about who I am. It’s gonna make me feel like I’m, you know, I’m gonna be a better example to my children. I’m going to be able to keep up with my kids as they grow up, whatever it is.
All of these, these really important things, and I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with wanting to look good naked, but. You know, if that’ll work on a significant other, use that too. But, you know, really get to the root benefits of these things and why it’s important to you. And then at the end, once you’ve spent some time say, Hey look, you are really important to me and I could really use your help to keep me on track with this.
And then you can oftentimes, again, if this is an important person, cuz this isn’t gonna work on Deborah, she doesn’t care. She’s doing keto, she’s living in her cul-de-sac. But your significant other, your, you know, your, your family, they now have skin in the game. In most cases, and not only do they have skin in the game, you’ve asked them for advice, you’ve asked them for help.
And so you’ve changed them from somebody who’s sitting back and potentially defensive over the situation. And now they’ve taken an active role and they understand why you’re doing it. And they understand that you don’t expect them to change, which is key to bring up in these situations. And now you have an ally rather than a passive aggressive adversary.
And I think that that can really work specifically well for those people that are important in your life. And if they’re people that are not important in your life, the reality is you’re probably not gonna change their mind with that type of thing.
And you’re certainly not gonna change them as a person.
That is a waste of time.
No, it’s a waste of time. Then you distance yourself emotionally from that type of negativity. You remove yourself from those situations as much as possible. It’s not always possible to remove yourself entirely from those situations. So you manage them as best as you can, and you remind yourself that you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for yourself.
You’re doing it for your kids. You’re doing it for your husband or wife. You’re doing it for your parents. They’re not somebody that matters. And so you take different approaches depending on how important this person is to you. But I really do think that the three keys for those people that are important to you is let them know that you don’t expect them to change.
Tell them exactly why you’re doing it, the in-depth reason why you’re doing it, and then conscript them to be your ally and you’re gonna set yourself up for a much. Easier, um, path forward because if you don’t bring all three of these things up, these people are still gonna act, you know, defensive over the situation or wonder if they’re being judged by you because you know, you are getting into the gym and they’re not, and does that mean that there’s anything wrong with them?
And I think that a lot of this comes from insecurity and, and we all experience it, right? You know, if you’re experiencing emotional eating, you’ve got some insecurity somewhere. I mean, there’s some emotion there that, that’s causing you some issues. So they’re dealing with their own and you can help them manage their own, which also helps you manage yours.
Great advice. And because you’re on a roll, if there are any other common life stressors that you, you just regularly help your clients with, that if left unaddressed can lead to emotional eating, I’d love to, to hear how that plays out.
I mean, food anxieties are a big thing, right? And we get food anxieties.
Typically, when we start to get into that, that restriction mindset. I found that there’s a couple ways to help people, help yourself, help clients. For the coaches that are listening that have these food anxieties. And there are two strategies that I like to use. One that was brought up by a buddy of mine, Dr.
Joey Munoz, and he has a really good method of handling it. And I like to use his method first, and then I use another method if that one doesn’t work. And so what I think that you should do as a person or a, or a coach working with a client, come up to your client and say, okay, are there any foods that you would classify as trigger foods that you have anxieties around or you feel uncomfortable around?
And they’ll give you a list. And then you’ll say, okay, well let’s put this in a list from what is most problematic to what is least problematic for you. And then you can come up with together as action one you can come up with together. Okay, well, if you want to have some of these in your life, what have you normally been eating?
Any, the amounts. What nor have you normally been eating of these? Can we cut those back? What is realistic for you to cut back to? And then incrementally cut those back over weeks or months. Sometimes that doesn’t work for everybody because if you’ve got a trigger food and you have a little bit of that trigger food, it becomes something that’s overwhelming.
And that’s when we switch to the, to the second action. And I actually call it a detox, even though that’s probably one of the wrong words to use in anything in, in fitness. But hear me out before you judge me because I need to brand this better. But what, what we do is I actually like to
No, the sexual connotations that makes that, yeah, this is, it’s gonna get real bad here.
They’re like, hell no, I’m not doing that. So what I like to do is I like to do essentially a food detox. And I’ll say, okay, we tried step one where we were trying to minimize things and you struggled and struggle. Don’t worry about that. That’s okay. Not everybody can do that. So let’s consider a food detox.
Let’s say, okay, well you’re having a real problem. Maybe they had three trigger foods. They manage two of them, but then one of them they can’t manage because oftentimes that first step will allow you to manage one or more foods. They can’t manage one. And we all have that. It’s mint brownies for me. And so what I do with clients is I’ll say, These of those take some work to acquire.
Yeah. Yeah. Wait, now that’s the thing. Like I’m, I’m really lazy in baking, and so that’s not a problem. I’ll grill and I’ll use an Insta Pott like crazy, so I’m self-limiting. But for the people that aren’t lazy, it becomes a problem. And so what I like to tell them to do is, okay, well let’s take a detox. Now, this has to be the choice of the client or the person that’s doing this.
You cannot force a detox onto a person. But what we’ll do is we’ll say, okay, we’ve had some problems with control. And admittedly you say that this is something that you feel uncomfortable around. Let’s say that it’s donuts. Let’s take donuts out. You’ll write down a contract to yourself. You’ll say, I’ll take donuts out for 4, 6, 8 weeks, whatever it is, and they said, I’m on board with this because I’ve tried other things and it hasn’t worked.
Great. We take that out in 4, 6, 8 weeks, whatever she has decided, or he has decided. You meet back up and you say, okay, we’ve given it this amount of time. First off, do you feel like you’re in more control? If yes, would you like to slowly reintroduce these foods once you feel like you’ve gained a modicum of control over this situation?
Now what’s really funny is I’ve been doing this for years and I find that 50% of people are like, I’m good. I don’t need it anymore. And I’m like, that’s your choice. Wonderful. We’ve beaten this food anxiety that you have. You can be around it now and you don’t have this issue. But the important thing is that it’s your choice for the people that wanna, that wanna reintroduce it, say, okay, well we can go back to, we can go back to tactic one and say, how many of these servings of these do you want to have in a week?
And start low and then build up as they feel like they’re in control and as they are able to progress towards their goal. But by doing this, you are one, putting them in control, and that’s what’s really important here. You have to give them autonomy in this. Two, you’re there for them. So it builds that relatedness aspect.
They, they see you as a coach, as, as a parachute if you’re a coach here listening to this, because I think that this is really important that you work with them as a partner on this type of thing. But during this process, as they’re working on control and as they’re working with handling this, it builds their feelings of competency over the situation.
Whereas it’s almost like you get somebody and, um, they’re afraid to swim and you just shove them into the deep end and like, They need to be saved. And you’re like, wow, that didn’t work. Okay, well let’s wade them in a little bit more. You know, once they’ve gotten over this fear of the fact that you just pushed them into the deep end, let’s take them back to a shallow end.
Get them in there and have them swim deeper and deeper and deeper. And that’s essentially what you’re doing. And so by calling it a detox, that’s probably not the right branding for that, but I find it works really well. It is something that is up to the client to control and you present this as an idea and say, Hey, does this sound like something that you’re willing to do?
But I would do that after the moderation tactic to see if they could handle that first, because the moderation tactics a little bit less, uh, dramatic. Whereas this is like scorched earth, but the scorched earth option does tend to work for a lot of people as long as they feel like they’re in control of the situation.
I’m assuming alcohol is commonly on this list.
Yeah, alcohol is often on this list now with alcohol too, particularly for people that are, that are really heavy drinkers. I think that the first option almost entirely is the right choice because you, for people that actually have problem with alcohol, detoxing them out of it.
I mean, one, if it’s an alcoholic as a coach, you probably should be referring that out.
There’s, there’s a gray area though that many people live in where it’s like you’re kind of an alcoholic, but maybe you wouldn’t exactly call it that. But this is an issue, you know,
I would follow the same procedures.
Detoxing with something like that is a little bit more tricky, and again, this has to be on that person, but I tend to, and I’ve had clients that we certainly work on with that kind of stuff, but I tend to. Incrementally go down and I’ll usually give it two weeks to say, okay, well how did you feel like you did it at this level?
And I remember one guy that I was working with, the extreme example, cuz they’re always the fun ones, right? I had a guy who was drinking 64 beers a weekend. And, and so I, I think it includes Friday,
but it must be, it probably Friday after a certain time. Like you break it down and turn hours awake, you’re like, wow, that’s, that’s a lot.
And so, you know, the first step that we had was we went from 64 to 48 to 32 to 16, and then we eventually got down to eight or nine. But he had realistic expectations of where his body could go, drinking eight or nine beers a week. And, and I’m not one of those people that’s gonna come out and say, you can never drink alcohol because it’s gonna ruin your, is there a real benefit to drinking alcohol?
No. Outside of emotional, You know, help for some people, and I’m not saying use it as an emotional crutch, but what I am saying is there’s times where, you know, celebrating with your friends is a, is a perfectly normal thing and that’s fine. And if we can match where you want to go with your goals, with where you want, with your lifestyle, and it’s within a healthy range.
Okay. That’s great. And particularly for these people that had had very extreme issues with this type of thing, incrementally improving on this makes massive progress over time.
Yep. Yeah. If we’re talking about physique, at what point is it necessary to completely cut out alcohol? I mean, I guess if you’re trying to step on stage, uh, yeah.
I mean, you can. I, I’ve worked with guys who have two. Maybe three drinks a weekend and they can maintain between, uh, eight to 12% body fat. Now the 8% body fat guys, first off, don’t take this as Alan tells me I can drink three drinks and maintain 8% body fat. Cuz the majority of people cannot do that. But there are people that are genetically gifted and they’re, you know, they can do that.
And I, and I have
also, they tend to be very active just in general.
I mean, NEAT is usually I. What’s counterbalancing the alcohol,
but that’s not, that’s not stage ready though. That’s just photo shoot ready. Uh, 8% is like photo shoot ready, 12% is beach ready maybe or something.
Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s a good, that’s a good way to explain it.
But for most people, they want to be beach ready. They don’t wanna be stage ready, you know, and, and it’s gonna, that’s gonna depend on what population that you work with. But the general population that I work with are, you know, driven working adults that want to be beach ready year long and, and that where we work.
So it actually works really well for me. Now, if you’re a coach that says, Hey, I wanna coach I F B B pros, the recommendations that I’m giving you here probably won’t work because alcohol’s not gonna allow you to maintain. Yeah. It’s not gonna allow you to reach three, four, 5% body fat, you know, and, and really do it because there, there are, You know, the negatives to alcohol, not only the calories, but the way that it affects muscle protein synthesis, the way that it affects testosterone production.
Of course, if you’re an I F B pro, that’s not really an issue, but like there’s, there is, there are these negatives beyond the calorie count. And so people always think, okay, well it’s the calorie count, but certainly there’s more to that. Now when I get clients that want to maintain, you know, lower. Double digits, let’s say.
You know, that’s when we start to talk about, okay, well if you’re gonna have two drinks, can we make it like a neat whiskey as opposed to, you know, a, like a sex on the beach or another, like really high calorie fruit juice and, and you know, combination. So you start to make those concessions to really reach that,
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Actually to, to just follow up on that before we get to some of these things that are more specific to just managing bouts or instances of emotional eating. What are, and you can speak personally or you can speak personally also, what you see works well with clients. That point of not dealing with stress well is very common and what many people do to try to manage stress could be eating food, it could be social media or other things that actually just adds to the total stress in the end.
What are some. Positive ways that people can deal with stress working out. Okay, fine. That works For some people, it doesn’t necessarily work great for all people.
I mean, the, the difficulty in answering this is that it’s going to be individual specific because you’re gonna need to find something that has meaning to you as a person.
And one of the things that I like to do is have people write down a list of five things. Okay. Tell me five things in your life that you enjoy that you can do at the drop of a hat. It has to be readily accessible. It has to be something that you enjoy and it has to either, it doesn’t necessarily need to be something you enjoy.
It has to be readily accessible, and it has to be either something that you enjoy or. It has to be productive in some manner so that it relieves stress. And I say that because whenever you’re getting into the answers to these situations, you don’t necessarily have to like go to Disneyland to be like super happy.
What if the substitution that we put into play is, okay, well, you know, I’m, I’m procrastinating on, you know, making a couple phone calls that I need to make for work, but I’ll get that done. And that takes your mind off the stress and actually get something done. So then you have less stress because you, you don’t have that anxiety chewing at you in the back of your mind that you need to get these things done.
So the entire idea here is refocus. This energy, stress is a negative type of energy that you’re experiencing. Refocus it into something positive, either something that you really enjoy or something that’s productive. And if you start to figure out, okay, well, what are some examples of these two things?
And like I said, write down at least five of them in a notebook. Put it next to your computer where you work, put it next to your bed, put it next to where you watch tv, and have that as a readily accessible reminder of what you want to do, and you’ll be far more successful because the biggest issue. With us fixing these types of problems is taking action and the more decisions that you have to make, the less of a chance there will be that you’ll take action.
So if you have the decisions sitting right in front of you, it makes life a hell of a lot easier. And this thing works throughout fitness and nutrition. I mean, this is the ex exact reason that coaches will tell you, okay, well prep a base bulk of foods. If you have the food made, then there’s a lot less decision on, okay, well what do I need to make?
Well, I have this, I’m going to eat that. It makes you stay on track with nutrition much more easily. You can do the exact same things with your emotional regulation. And this is just one of those, those tricks to be able to do that.
Yeah, that’s uh, a good advice because it’s gonna be hard to do that in the moment of.
Feeling overwhelmed to some degree, and then you’re now in the moment you’re trying to figure out, all right, what’s, what’s something fun that I could do right now? Just that’s fun for its own sake. You’re probably not even in the head space to create a list. Like that list is gonna look different then if you were to create it.
When you generally feel fine, you’re in a good mood.
So, and this is, this is an interesting thing, an interesting point that you bring up here. I want to emphasize the fact that emotional eating doesn’t always mean negative. Emotional eating can come from positive feelings as well. Now it’s not as common to come from positive feelings, but it can, when emotional eating comes from positive feelings, that’s not always productive either.
For instance, you could be in a situation where you have specific health and performance goals and you’ve been doing really well and you’re building those habits. And one of the things that I’m sure that you, you talk about as well, is. I have less concern about whether I’m seeing the scale go down every week as to what I’m seeing going on with habits.
Are you getting into the gym regularly? Are you starting to eat more whole foods? Did you eat a damn vegetable today? You know, and if and if people are starting to do these habit things, that’s great. The positive emotional eating can be problematic too. And, and one of the reasons that that can be problematic is it can break this habit formation just like.
Preparing ahead with making these notes for, okay, well what substitutions can I make preparing ahead with what meal prep can I do to SU to give myself the best chance to succeed? Dealing with emotions can be handled in a very similar way, and if you know that you’re going out to eat that, you know, at a bar with friends on Friday night, say, Hey, I’m gonna have a two drink maximum or a three drink maximum, or whatever it is, and write it down because that.
Seems to make a big difference. And then stick to it when you get out there, because emotionally you can get into emotional eating or drinking from positive aspects. And positive aspects are you’re having a great amount of fun. You know, you’re in the middle of it, alcohol lowers inhibitions, and then all of a sudden you’ve had six drinks, you get back later and you still experienced the same guilt that you experienced from negative emotions.
But this was brought on by positive emotions or similar positive emotions caused us become to become a habit from, you know, everything growing up when we talked about the fact that emotional eating is most likely the learned activity. Well, one of the ways that we learned this activity is because we go to a soccer game when we’re five years old and our parents says, Hey, let’s go get ice cream afterwards.
Or you got an A on a spelling test, Hey, let’s go get ice cream. And then all of a sudden, every time you start to have feelings of positivity, subconsciously reaching for ice cream. And so it’s really important to be knowledgeable or at least, um, understandable about the way that these affect you because this can be some of those habits that you want to change because it’s not bringing you where to where you wanna be.
Yeah. Yeah, that’s great advice. Um, why don’t we shift gears now to some practical strategies for managing emotional hunger, managing cravings in the first 10 minutes or so. You had mentioned a few, but there are so several others I know that, that you have to share that I think are great advice. So let’s, let’s talk about those.
Yeah. Just as a recap for some of the earlier ones. I mean, understanding your specific stressors and acceptance. I mean, that’s where the food diary really comes into play. Then, um, fight your food anxieties by. Either slowly moderating, incrementally moderating down these foods that are causing issues or incrementally moderating them up depending on how you experience them.
And then the detoxing, the next step that I would consider doing is focus on your mindset, you know, as a restriction mindset is a negative thing, and can really play into these emotional eating issues
in non-obvious ways. I mean, I’ll just mention that, that, do you know the. I just call it the bread study.
It showed you had two groups of people and one group was told that, uh, they can eat bread. The other group was told, this is, I’m just gonna give the the quicks. I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna hijack the conversation. The other group can’t eat bread. And the, the group that was told that they can’t eat bread, eat more calories on average than the group that said that, Hey, you can not only you can eat what you generally eat and you can eat bread.
And to the point just being that that effect has been shown in other research too. Simply telling people that they can’t eat something. That in the case of at least some of those people who are told they can’t eat bread, like, you tell me I can’t eat bread. I don’t really eat bread. It doesn’t, it wouldn’t matter to me.
In, in the same case, some of the people who were told you cannot eat bread. They didn’t particularly love bread. Maybe they didn’t even eat bread all that often, but it can have a more universal effect and in this case it’s a negative effect that can just lead to unintentional in this study case overeating.
Yeah, I mean these, this restrictive mindset is what really triggers cravings. I mean, this is, this is the really big thing and I, you know, if when people go out and they say, I can’t have chocolate, I can’t have chocolate, and then all of a sudden they have an entire bag of m and ms. This is exactly what’s happening.
And so mindset’s a huge thing in every aspect of life. So rather than looking at it as restriction, because certainly there’s going to be some concessions that need to be made along a fitness journey because what you were eating before has not supported where you want to go. And that’s why you’re making this journey to, to make some changes.
And so what you start to do is you view that as a positive choice rather than a negative choice. And instead of saying, okay, well I’m missing out on the donuts, it’s, I’m getting to eat more lean meats. I’m getting to eat more fruits. I’m getting to eat more of these things because they’re gonna bring me to what I want to achieve.
And so that simple shift, it’s difficult. It is really difficult. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. And so making that shift is a really important thing. And what I wanna stress to people that are, are going to incorporate this is don’t feel like this is something that’s going to work immediately. Remind yourself every single time that you have, you know, a specific food that this is relevant for.
Say, Hey, you know, I’m doing this for a reason. And over time that starts to work for you. It’s not an immediate result, but it does help to curb cravings and it does help with overall feelings of positivity and the in the entire journey. Now, one of the things that we touched on earlier that I do want to touch on a little bit just to give a little bit more background on was the substitutions for your routines or, or substitutions for foods.
We had talked about how they either need to be enjoyable. Or they need to be productive in some manner. One of the things that can help to identify whether or not we have a habit that is working against us is by understanding the anatomy of a habit. There’s three parts to, to a habit. It’s a reminder, a routine, and a reward.
And so what we will typically find is that, you know, an example of this would be you drive home from work and every day that you drive home from work, you pass Dunking Donuts. And so there’s your reminder, your routine is you go in to get the donut. The reward is you get to eat the donut. You can change.
These things up by focusing on that middle piece, that routine, and if you substitute something else, you will over time weed out that unproductive habit that you’ve had. And like we’ve said, these types of, of issues that we have are learned, are learned experiences. Now you can, you can do an environmental change where you drive home a different route, but you can also do a substitution.
So whenever you pass that, Dunking donut, have an apple in the car and then just start chomping down on the apple every time that you do it. At first, it’s gonna be very difficult, but it does allow you to change that habit, to change that routine. Over time, you will stop getting that knee jerk reaction to drive into Dunking Donuts.
And you know, when that goes onto autopilot, your life becomes a lot easier. And just like food substitutions or just like the other, other substitutions that we talked about, you can use this for any habits you have in your life as long as the food substitutions are typically a bit more nutritious. We want, because we don’t wanna say that any food is good or bad, but we do wanna say there are foods that are a little, a little bit more nutritious versus foods that are a little bit less nutritious.
So pick up a more nutritious food, fruits, non-fat Greek yogurt, um, you know, a protein shake. Anything that’s convenient, tasty for you, use that as a substitution for whatever you’re gonna do. And that can help you break some of those habits.
And if you want to get reward out of fruit in particular, eat less sugar.
You might be surprised if you eat less sugar. How much more delicious fruit gets
fruit all of a sudden becomes amazing. And it’s funny because when I go out to dessert, my wife hates this when I go out to dessert, I’m not a big dessert guy, but I always like to get like a, a cheese plate with fruit on it.
Your palate does change over time and then you start to get into things like cheesecake and you’re like, this is really rich. And, and it, it doesn’t serve the same emotional, that split second of, wow, this is really great and I feel really great about myself type thing. It really does change. And you know, your palate does change over time.
It’s something that’s amazing to see when it does happen. But the moral of the story here is it does get easier, but it’s gonna require you to kind of push through those, those hard first few months.
Yeah, with food, I believe. Oh, so there was, um, there was, oh, it, it was like a TV show or something. Many years ago, some famous chef made a, a list of all the different types of foods that he hated, including weird stuff, bugs and like monkey brains and stuff.
And if I remember correctly, the premise of the show is he had to eat everything on his list over the course of a year, like at least 20 times or something like that. So he was just constantly eating stuff that he didn’t like. And what he found is by the end of his little experiment, he actually had developed.
A taste for all of these things that previously he said were his most undesirable foods that he, that he possibly could think of. Right. And I also think of some other research on that, that if I remember correctly, it’s, it’s some time since I read that paper, but it was like maybe eight to 10 exposures, something like that.
To something that you’d say you didn’t like. For me it was coffee. For a long time I didn’t drink coffee cuz I did not like the taste of coffee. Even tiramisu did not taste good to me at all. Anything the, even a hint of coffee didn’t taste good to me. And I wanted though to then I’d see people drinking espresso or espresso with some sort of milk, whether it’s a cappuccino or one of the other little fancy things that, that people do depending on how much espresso and milk and foam and whatever.
And they loved it so much and I was like, I think I’m missing out on something here. So, so I’m just gonna force myself to start drinking coffee. And that’s exactly what happened. At first, I was just drinking espresso and I was like, God, this is so bad. I hate this. And then it was espresso even with a little bit of milk and I was just like, this is not good.
I’m, but I’m just drinking it. Within the first month or so, I started to like it, and now I love it. And that’s my only, that’s where I get my caffeine. I don’t, I don’t get caffeine from pre-workout. I have some espresso in the morning and it’s delicious to me now. So, you know, for people who say, I just don’t like fruit, I don’t like vegetables.
Well, if you don’t like fruit, give it a try. And I would also recommend if, if you can moderate or maybe detox the sugar out for a bit, that might help you develop a, a liking for fruit. And same thing with, with vegetables, also, maybe like some cooking 1 0 1 would be very helpful. Just learn to make some simple recipes that incorporate vegetables.
That’s gonna go a long way rather than just trying to, I what one guy, what would he call, you call it like the cow method where. To eat spinach every day. And I, I was talking about, oh, you can make it into salads. That’s what I do. He’s like, nah, handful just in the
mouth, got my cow. And, and just chew it like it’s, uh, like it’s just grass in the field and, and swallow it and move on with my day.
Well, yeah, you can do that too. I don’t, I don’t know if you’ll ever really develop a, a taste for that, but it works well. One thing to, uh, one thing to make people feel a little bit better about trying to change up these habits. I mean, we talked about how it’s a reminder, routine reward, realize, and I can get you this study if you want.
I don’t remember it off of the, the, um, the author off of the back of my head. But when we look at the way that habit formation works, It seems to take between 18 and 256 days to form a new habit. And I bring that up because we always hear that idea of like 90 days to new habits. I mean, I think there are books.
It’s unlikely that you’re going to have a new habit work out in 30 days, but don’t feel bad about that. That doesn’t mean that there’s anything abnormal. And even in the study that, that I’m referencing that they talked about that they found that when people went off track with these habits, as long as they got back on track in the very next instance, it did not make the habit formation process any slower.
So stay resilient. It’s gonna pay off in the end. And I know that these things are very difficult and they’re very difficult for many months. They may be difficult for nearly three-fourths of a year. But that’s okay because you’ve told yourself why you’re doing this. You’ve explained it to all of your friends to get their buy-in.
You’ve, you’ve repeated this over and over and over at this point, and so that you know that the reward is going to be worth the cost. So, you know, just like with everything else in fitness and nutrition, be patient. It’s gonna pay off. Realize that what you’re experiencing is normal and it’s okay.
A simple tip, iShares, just try not to, to have two bad days in a row.
Like if you’ve overeat or you eat off plan or you skip a workout, try to just get back on track the next day. Try not to do the same thing or make the same mistake two days in a row or two times in a row that just reframe. Seems to resonate with, with people.
Well, the trick I like to use, and I actually find that this works extremely well.
We’re getting away from just the the cravings thing, but this is a really good fitness journey and health journey type of trick. What I like to tell people is, okay, look at your upcoming month. Figure out what organically events do you have going on that could potentially throw you off of this, this fitness journey?
And you’ll say, okay, well I’ve got a party at Deborah’s, but nobody likes Deborah, but she throws great parties. Well, she throw, but she does, she makes a mean potato salad with raisins in it. And then you’ve got, you know, your husband’s birthday party and then, I don’t know, Thanksgiving’s coming up. So I’ll say, okay, well look at the next four weeks, make a list and write down these things on priority order of, how important are they to you?
Well, Deborah’s is not, is probably the least priority for me. So I will moderate the most here and then I will indulge the most. On Thanksgiving, and what I really like about this is this, there’s so much emotion involved in how we deal with nutrition and how we deal with our own bodies and how we deal with, you know, feelings of success and competence as we’re moving forward in this.
This can give you some grace because you’ve written these things down and you can say, one, I can stay more on track at Deborah’s because I’ve told myself that this isn’t as important as I thought it was. But then at the same time, I can enjoy a little bit more at Thanksgiving because I told myself that this was the most important thing for me, and I’ve, I’ve allowed this to happen.
Now, what’s really great about this entire situation is you can look at that week to week and then you can tell, okay, well now I have it a mundane week coming in between these, but I can stay a little bit more on track because I know that I’ve got something coming up. I think that the biggest mistake that people make is they’ll look at their life as week to week, and then we forget about all of these organic situations that come up that allow us to enjoy life a little bit more.
And so things compound on us because, oh, you know, I, I went out and I drank a whole lot Friday night, but then the next week is Halloween, and then I’m, I’m definitely gonna eat candy for Halloween. And then, you know, the next week is this. And if we look at things a little bit, Broader out. And then we take that and we, and we put this down into a series of how important is this for us?
We really set ourselves up for success in this type of trip. And again, the big theme about this entire talk that we’re having here is set yourself up for success and use some of these tricks that we’re giving you. Because if people don’t bring these up, I mean, they’re not necessarily something that’s intuitive.
But when you start to think about it, you’re like, you know, that’s pretty easy and probably pretty effective. And the best things that we can possibly give you as people trying to help you is the easiest, most effective things. And prepping your head is a good way to do that.
Uh, just to, to echo that. Yeah.
I mean, for me personally, probably a bit of my personality, but I, I like to be generally very deliberate and calculated in how I use my time, and I spend a lot of my time working. So I, I think of that, but also that carries over into my fitness, how I eat, how I train. I like to take a little bit of time to think about things, prioritize things, decide on what I’m gonna do and why.
Knowing that I’m not gonna be perfect and I don’t have to be perfect, but going into it with a plan, so to speak, that I feel confident in, because I have considered that not only. Works better in terms of the outcomes, but the process is, the journey so to speak, is more enjoyable. Like my day-to-day life is more enjoyable because I’m not wondering if this is the best use of my time or if this meal fits exactly what I want to do, or if my training should be, if I’m doing the workouts that best suit my goals, I’ve thought about these things already and now I’m just executing.
And if there are emergent opportunities to do things differently, sure I can pursue that or not, but I just find that approaching my life generally, not all the time, but generally like that helps me keep, I guess you could say stress or anxiety lower. Whereas if I don’t do that, I inevitably just start to question, should I be doing this right now?
Does this really make sense? Are there other things that would, that really should be taking priority and that then would apply to my fitness that would apply to. Family, the time I’m putting there, how I’m using that time and so on. So what you’re talking about resonates a lot with me.
There’s one last thing that I wanted to wanted to really point out because I think that this can be really beneficial for people as well.
I think that a little bit of mindfulness practice can go a long way, particularly with emotional eating. I mean, anytime you have something that feels like a loss of control and just like what you were talking about, you know right now what you are doing is you are giving yourself control in your life.
You are making active choices. You’re making active choices without emotion in play. Now you can obviously call an audible at some point, right? But by thinking about it beforehand, you actually understand, well, if I call an audible here and I say I’m going to, you know, go off plan a little bit more than what I thought I already had thought about the outcomes, you know, and, and what I wanna do, and then I’m okay with it.
And so the way that you are setting these these things up is something that I find that really successful people do. A little bit of pre-planning goes a long way. Now, in a similar manner, practicing mindfulness can help because they can help identify some of the cracks that you might have in your daily practices and allow you to solidify them so you can take more control.
And so I like to do a, um, an awareness exercise that helps people to regulate emotions. And it involves three questions. And if a person is willing to do this, that’s great. Usually people that are struggling a little bit, I’ll say, Hey, think about trying this, you know, because I think that it can give you some good information and it ties in really well with those emotional or food diaries that we get.
But this looks at it in a slightly different manner. So at the end of the day, ask yourself three questions. What am I doing? Why am I doing this and where is it taking me? These questions are important because they make us aware of current daily routines. They allow us to evaluate the motivations behind the choices that we’re making.
And they put into focus whether or not these actions are moving us towards our goals. And I think that we very often kind of just glide through life without realizing what we’re doing on a daily basis. And particularly if someone is struggling, I think that these awareness exercises are extremely beneficial because you start to say, man, I didn’t really realize how much I was eating some of that food in the break room, and I didn’t really realize why am I doing this?
You know, the second question, why am I doing this? Well, I’m doing it because, you know, let me, let me throw in something from my past when I used to work in dentistry, oh, you know, I had a, a really stressful patient. And so then I went to the break room in between patients and I grabbed, you know, a fun sized Snickers bar.
But then I realized that I’m doing that like four or five times a week. And you know, one time’s not gonna throw you off, but when you start to see that pattern, you start to say, wow, you know, this was one. Emotional eating at its core. And two, it was this habit that I was forming. So how can we start to work at that?
Well this, this awareness exercise has brought this to light. Great. So we can start to work on regulating our stress experiences. Do I do the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique? Is that not gonna work? Do I not feel like doing that right now? Okay, well maybe we don’t do that. Maybe we start to do the substitution technique.
I know that I go into the break room every time. I know that we need to change my routine. My routine has now been changed to pick up that apple because I’m now keeping apples in the break room because I realize the break room is that spot where I’m feeling like I’m failing myself. And you know, just like we talked about before, knowledge is really the beginning and the key to all of this.
So we want to give you a lot of different ways to be able to do this. And you’re not gonna use every one of these things that we talk about, but you can take pieces from each of these and you can try and you’ll probably come up with your own little combination that tends to work best for you. And that’s wonderful.
That’s exactly where we wanna bring you. And you take these. Tactics, and you take these things that both Mike and I talked about. You know, you keep things in perspective. You look at it as a third person, how would you say a third person is doing? You know, I, I’ve gotten people that I’ve worked with and they’ll have lost 12 pounds, and we’ll do it in a moderated way to where they’re not losing 12 pounds in one week.
So we know that it’s not water weight loss and muscle glycogen loss. We know it’s actually body fat and they’ll be down on themselves because Deborah lost 20 pounds doing keto in two weeks. But what would you tell a third person friend that you’ve seen? You know, that does this kind of thing. You’d say, that’s great.
You know, 12 pounds is amazing. So keep that in mind and ultimately really be ready to learn from your setbacks because you’re gonna, you’re going to experience them, and any person that goes through this type of journey is going to run into some challenges. You are not a failure. If you keep trying to learn from them and come back, you’re going to fail.
I guarantee you, you’re gonna fail, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. You’re gonna feel like you failed anyways, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad thing. The really important thing here is you learn, you look at those things as learning experiences, and if you’re a coach that’s listening to this, what I recommend that you do is listen to your clients in their check-ins and they say, oh, you know, I feel like I was a failure here.
Say, okay, well I know that you experienced challenges here. If you were put in the same situation again and you wanted a different result, what would you do? Put the onus on them. To come up with solutions. That doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna be there to act as a parachute for them or to give feedback, but you want them to come up with solutions first because they’re gonna need to get used to doing this themselves, and this is the first way to do it.
You don’t wanna become a crutch. You wanna become their support system. So ask them to do it, and they’ll come back to you and this is great because now you’ve started that process of, okay, they’re gonna start critically looking at these things over time and they’re gonna start coming up with solutions.
Now you can obviously modify them, but it’s great that they’re thinking about it themselves.
You’re gonna get more buy-in that way for sure. Like actual follow through
a hundred percent. And you know, oftentimes as a coach, it’s better if they come up with solutions too, because those solutions tend to be tailored to them as a person.
And like we talked about, emotional eating and cravings are very specific. And so, you know, if anybody says, oh, I’ve got the answers to, to emotional eatings and it’ll fix it, it’s probably bullshit. You know, there’s gonna be a different combination or a different way to get to it for every person. And by getting that information from them, you’re really getting an insight into what can help them and where their mental and emotional status is at the time.
And the, the very last thing that I, I think is extremely important to bring up, because this is, this is key. If you go through all these things and you still feel like you’re really struggling, don’t feel like there’s an issue reaching out to a qualified mental health professional. You know, your coach, your, your certified nutritionist, they’re gonna do the best job that they possibly can to help you out.
Sometimes the emotional regulation of it requires a little bit more, and that’s why if you are working with a good coach, they’ll say, yeah, let’s bring in, you know, a, a, a psychiatrist or qualified healthcare professional, and we’ll work together. You know, the nutritionist can help come up with your modifications to your nutrition.
They can help with your regulation of emotions, but there’s no shame in that, and I think that people really need to be told that.
Yeah. And yeah, I understand. I mean, I, I’m, I’m the kind of person who always wants to try to figure things out on my own, but probably a, a, an analogy would just be, think of learning things.
Oftentimes the fastest way to learn something if you just want to get to acquiring a skill some kind as quickly as possible, it is having a coach, a good coach who has a lot of experience, especially with people like you, your, your circumstances, where you want to go. You could read all the books and listen to the podcast and try to piece it all together yourself.
And I, I like that process personally, but just know that that’s going to take a lot more time than just going to somebody who goes, oh yeah, I’ve worked with a lot of people just like you who want to go to exactly where you want to go. And there’s a playbook. We’re gonna have to make some changes. It’s not, your playbook is gonna look a little bit different, but I can get you there almost certainly a lot faster than you can get there.
Just trying to figure it out on your own.
Yeah, they’re the GPS to getting you where you need to go. And, you know, hiring the GPS is better than you trying to fumble around with a map that you don’t necessarily know how to read.
Yeah, yeah. And maybe a broken compass. Um, one last, one last little tip. I, I wanted to just hear your thoughts on, because I’ve always liked it and this is just coming back to just tactical for dealing with emotional hunger.
Just wanna make sure we get it in before we wrap up. And that is waiting 10 or 15 minutes before indulging in something. Can you just speak to that quickly?
I like it. I like, I like that idea. You know, one of the big differences between emotional and physical hunger is that emotional hunger tends on to come, tends to come on very quickly.
It comes on very quickly and it goes away very quickly. And, you know, the second you start to think about eating beans, it definitely goes away quickly. And so if you can, if you can substitute some of these, these tips and tricks or, you know, the, the substitutions of like going out and doing things for work.
I mean that’s, that’s essentially one of the reasons that you do that is because it kills time, it focuses your mind on something else and kills time. But between that hunger, That emotional hunger pang that’s hitting you and you know, and it just passing, you know, there’s a lot of ways that you can add in time to be able to do that.
Um, you know, adjusting your food environment is one of those. I mean, you can put, like, say that you have a food that you consider a potential trigger for. You put it in the back of the freezer, it’s gonna take 10 minutes to thaw anyways. By the time you get that out and try to like eat it, that gets you through that time period.
I think that waiting 10 to 15 minutes, 10 to 20 minutes, whatever it is, is a wonderful strategy because it. Allows you to regain that modicum of control that you lost for a split second. And there’s nothing wrong with losing it because that’s what we deal with. And it’s with the understanding and, and that you really do have permission, quote unquote, to have it.
If 10 minutes goes by, or 15 minutes max, 20 minutes and you still really want it, then have it. And I just think that’s worth mentioning specifically. So, cuz if somebody could interpret that as, uh, almost a play on restriction, it’s, it’s really not. It’s just delaying, it’s not saying you can’t have it, and here we’re just trying to Jedi mind trick ourselves, but we actually can’t have it.
No, you can have it. You just have to wait 10 or 15 minutes.
Mm-hmm. Because what we’re really doing here and what, what you’re, what you’re hitting at is we’re trying to increase levels of control. Right. And if you’ve waited that time period, you’ve allowed some of the emotions to subside. Then at the end, if you still choose to have it, that’s a conscious choice rather than an urge.
And so I think that that is a, a wonderful. Wonderful tip to give out there.
Great. Well, yeah, I just wanted to leave us with, with that we’ve went all over the place, lots of great information and I really appreciate you taking the time. Before we wrap up here, is there anything else that I haven’t asked you about or that we haven’t spoken about that you wanna mention?
I want people to understand that, um, that, and this, this is going to be particularly for women, because I think that this can help a lot. I think that a lot of women feel a little bit, a little bit helpless in some situations with cravings and a lot of times they’ll say, oh, it’s because of Im, you know, hormones are triggering it.
Or, you know, I struggle with cravings because, you know, that’s just what happens. It’s really interesting when you look at the research on it. Hormones don’t seem to actually trigger cravings. This is something that we have learned to believe, you know, and, and there’s two sets of information that I kind of look at, and one was the fact that cravings aren’t the same across cultures.
In Western civilizations, we see cravings for chocolate seems to be the number one type of thing, but if you go to Eastern cultures, they don’t crave chocolate at all. This is a learned experience. When you look at the research on things like PMs, 80% of postmenopausal women still report chocolate cravings despite no longer having cycles.
And I think the fact that this idea is so pervasive makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy. What I will say to you is, Hey, look into this research because there is research out there suggesting this.
Yeah. No, it is. It is an interesting point. If nothing else, it’s something to reflect upon because it probably could help some women who might have just been saying that for some time.
But if they were to look at it differently or be willing to look at it differently, they might find that it actually is not exactly the way, the cause and effect mechanism that they assumed was hardwired and that basically couldn’t be overrided. Maybe they actually can override it to some degree or gain some of that control back.
My mansplaining attempt here is that you may have significantly more control over the situation than what you believe. And if you start to look at that and you find, okay, well, you know, what he was saying is actually compelling, and I’m starting to see some of the research that’s backing this up, maybe I feel a little bit better in managing these situations rather than feeling like I’m at a loss of control.
Because what’s gonna happen, that loss of control is gonna feel compounding. That’s what’s going to cause more emotional eating. And so I think that
especially when, when the supposed cause is something that is biological, that can be a powerful trigger of, of a, of a exactly of a nocebo effect. Where now, There’s a, a neutral effect in reality.
But because you’ve been led to believe that this is just biological, there’s really nothing you can do about it. All of a sudden now you are experiencing negative effects.
Yeah. And it, and it breeds this habit. And the problem is because this snow SA nocebo effect is so strong, this gets passed around more and more and more, and then it affects more people.
And what do we do? Well, we try to break that cycle and at least help some people be able to say, Hey, I really can’t take control over this situation. This is not, you know, this is not me. This is not what I have to do. And yeah, I mean, there are, there is, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel on this one.
And in some cases I would guess it’s, it’s also a response to stress or pain associated with that is very real. So, so that’s understandable. Where she’s not having a great time, she doesn’t feel good. The chocolate makes her feel better. But that just then comes back to everything we’ve been talking about, which is perfectly understandable, and maybe that is the best way to deal with it.
Within moderation. Maybe there are some other ways to deal with that stress or that discomfort, and that’s up to the person to judge for themselves, I think. Uh, well, uh, thanks again for, for taking your time. That was a lot of great information. I really enjoyed the discussion. And why don’t we wrap up with where people can find you can find your work.
Uh, if there’s anything in particular that you want them to know about, maybe some BCAs or that that’s for people listening. That’s a, that’s a joke from when we were talking offline just about various fitness things and supplements and BCAs and why I don’t sell BCAs among other supplements and.
We seem to be on the same page as far as what, uh, what triggers us from the supplement perspective.
But yeah, I mean, if, if you’re looking to get some more information, uh, you can go to my website, maui athletics.com. That’s the company that I run for online coaching. The blog there is rather extensive and research based, so there’s a lot of good information there, there that you can get for free. If you wanna reach out to me, um, feel free to look me up and send me a message on Instagram, Dr.
D r Alan, a l l a n. Bacon, like the food is my handle on Instagram. Yeah, I’m more than happy to connect with anybody and if you have any questions, feel free.
Awesome. Well, thanks again for taking the time, Alan. I appreciate it.
Thank you, Mike.
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