Self-sabotage and emotional eating
You know it. The voice inside that says
- “Just this one time”
- “You deserve it”
- “Things are fine, you don’t need to take time for self-care this week”
- “Just take the weekend off – you can start again on Monday”
It all sounds so logical and so sensible at the time, but before the week’s over you’re back in a cycle of cravings, emotional eating, and guilt.
Not to mention the negative self-talk that comes along with it.
So, instead of self-sabotaging like that, here are 20 kick-ass things you can do to short-circuit the little voice of “reason” (read with extreme sarcasm) OR if you’ve already fallen prey, to hop out of the emotional eating + cravings cycle and get you more of what you need – which is often fun, pleasure, and relaxation.
What’s the real issue?
Most of us know when we’re self-sabotaging. We manage to convince ourselves it’s what we want – but really it’s only what we want right now.
If you’re ever in doubt about whether it’s a legit desire or self-sabotage, ask yourself:
“Is this going to nourish me and get me where I really want to go?”
The answer will show you the way.
The real issues behind self-sabotage can be complicated (this free workshop is an excellent place to start), but self-sabotage is often about protecting yourself. So, finding healthy, nourishing things to do that fill this need without food is so important.
20 kick-ass, non-food things you can do instead of self-sabotaging.
You want a break, a reward, a quick-fix – here they are.
1. Do a quick meditation.
This works absolute wonders – especially when you do it often. Meditations don’t have to be long or focused on ‘clearing your mind’. I love using the app ‘Stop, Breathe & Think‘ to do a 5-minute meditation when the self-sabotaging voices start to get loud.
2. Play mind games.
I’ve written before about how Tetris can help with cravings, but I also love using ‘brain training’ games like Lumosity or Kami 2 to distract from my self-sabotaging urges and to kind of put my brain in a different place or way of thinking. It’s fun and relaxing – and very effective.
If meditation isn’t for you, or you’d just like something bright and fun to keep those quiet times occupied (boredom is a huge source of self-sabotage!), then coloring is a great option. Either in real life or using an app, it’s a kick-ass way to circumvent self-sabotage.
5. Grab a pen and paper and write down what would make today feel great for you. Go work on that.
This has been a total game changer for me – and is now something I use with all my clients (and myself). Asking “What would it take to make this fun”, or “What does my perfect day today look and feel like” and then allowing my actions to come from (and move towards) creating that. It’s a little bit magical.
6. Do a little research and make plans with friends or family to do something this week.
Comedy shows, exhibitions, festivals, and markets are often inexpensive and tons of fun. Making fun future plans not only helps you connect with other people and build a strong support network, but it’s also just plain old gives you something to look forward to. Not to mention, all the good feels you get for organizing something fun.
7. Gratitude list.
I’ve written about this a ton of times, and it’s still true: Gratitude heals. It lifts you up. And it’s the perfect thing to do instead of self-sabotaging.
If you feel like you need some physical relaxation, you can totally DIY your own massage. It’s not as good as getting it from someone else – but it’s free (and guilt-free), and you can do it any time you want. Check out this post on how to do it.
One of my most popular posts of all time is this one about how to use Zentangle as a form of meditation and all the benefits it brings. Again, if you like the idea of meditating, but want to combine that with a more active approach, try Zentagle.
10. Search for “cute animals” on YouTube.
No, seriously. If you feel as though your self-sabotage is coming from fear, boredom, or stress, then cute animal videos may be the answer you’re looking for. I 100% recommend squirrels or pandas as a go-to. Life doesn’t have to be all deep and meaningful. Sometimes a good giggle or ‘awww’ is all you need to keep going.
11. Join the Live the Whole Facebook group.
It’s only the most supportive, inspiration facebook groups for emotional eaters ever!
12. Text your mother, father, brother, sister, grandparent, cousin, or loved one of any kind and tell them you love them.
The need for meaningful human connection is one of our most basic motivators and is a huge driver behind cravings and emotional eating. This is definitely a ‘quick fix’ and no replacement for nurturing meaningful relationships but a quick check-in or ‘I love you’ is sometimes all it takes to switch tracks from self-sabotage to self-care.
13. Listen to your fave song.
I don’t think this one needs explaining. Put it on repeat if need be.
14. Learn to actually kick ass.
Like I said earlier, a lot of self-sabotage is about protection. Certainly, not just physical protection, but knowing you can take care of yourself takes many forms. Check out some Youtube how-to’s or sign up for a self-defense class in your area. I hope I never have to “defeat a violent street criminal”, but I do like the philosophy behind this video. Feeling more powerful and capable is the perfect alternative to self-sabotaging.
15. Make a new origami animal.
Much like the meditation and mind games up in points #1 and #2, origami is a great way to help your brain ‘switch tracks’. It takes you out of the self-sabotage or craving line of thought and introduces a new challenge and focus. Try it (just google ‘beginners origami’ to get started).
16. Go for a walk.
It’s a classic for a reason. Try it for just 5 minutes, outside if possible, and focus on your senses (smells, sounds, sights).
17. Take a nap.
It’s far from lazy. Huge amounts of research now show the benefits of taking a nap – everything from increased productivity to enhance willpower. So, if you’re feeling low and like you’re ready to give up, try a 20-minute nap first. You might find you wake up to an entirely different outlook.
18. Watch this TED Talk about sea creatures.
If you’re not uplifted and amazed by the beauty in our world, you’re Cruella D’Ville. Getting outside yourself and your on-going self-talk and situation is a revitalizing reprieve.
19. Make up inspirational life stories for strangers.
If you’re super introverted, then reaching out to family and friends can seem like a massive hurdle and when you’re already struggling just isn’t something you have the time or energy to convince yourself to do. So, bring on the strangers! All you have to do is sit in a populated area or stare out a window and pick an interesting looking stranger. Give them a name and make up a wonderful life for them. Get out of your own internal struggle and live in imagination-land for a little while. You can even imagine them overcoming similar struggles to you and take inspiration from that. Your reality is made up of the stories you tell yourself anyway, so you might as well make them good stories.
This might sound like more of a drag than something you want to do instead of self-sabotaging – but it’s soooo not. Decluttering your physical space is the fastest way I know to feel clearer, more focused, and have more energy. These are all things that help you through cravings and self-sabotage, so open up one of your desk drawers and clear that baby out!
Do you want less self-sabotage?
Check out the (totally free) guide to 15 Self-Sabotage Proof Midweek Meals. You will have a recipe bank of self-sabotage resistant, healthy meals so you can stop “starting again on Monday” and start healing your overeating. Yup, even if you’re a classic self-sabotage-in-the-evening kind of girl.