The power of no for your emotional eating

The power of no

You’re an emotionally perceptive lady and you’re probably pretty high-achieving and just a tad ambitious. You feel fairly clued-in to the people around you, and you like to help.

You probably have a lot of commitments too – family to nurture, co-workers to… co-work, and a career to continue building. It’s almost inevitable that you get caught up in saying yes to opportunities like

  • helping with projects outside your job description 
  • networking events 
  • planning and celebrating 
  • being there for friends and family 

These are all awesome chances to connect with the people around you, and really get stuck into life in a way that matters.

However, if you’re losing yourself, getting burnt out, or not able to prioritize your own wellbeing, these awesome opportunities will become a huge drain on your emotional health.

Which leads to stress eating. Comfort eating. Emotional eating. All the eating. Here’s a way to stop that from happening: the power of no.

The power of no gives you more time, energy, and head-space to focus on what's really important to you, and is central to healing emotional eating. If you feel like you're run ragged, and have bit problems trying to say no to things, here's an easy exercise to get you over that.


Emotional health is where it’s at

How can you give your all to your loved ones, your career, and your goals while still looking after your own emotional health?

You know that, as an emotional eater, your emotional health is the key to everything. Healthy diet, movement, exercise, motivation, and wellbeing are not only way harder but much less effective if you’re not in a mentally healthy place.

I know you know that if you’re not looking after yourself, then your unwanted eating comes out to play.

How does your generous nature ‘get’ you?

All you want to do is look after your loved ones, not miss any opportunities at work, or miss out on anything life has to offer. That’s an amazing and beautiful goal, but it wears down your emotional reserves.

For example, trying to constantly be of service might feel like a generous and meaningful way to operate. However, if all you do is give-give-give, those generous feelings will soon wear away into exhaustion and resentment.

Or, networking events and parties can be a ton of fun. Until you realize you’ve got one on every night this week. It’s great to connect with friends or co-workers, but if you’re not getting enough downtime you’ll soon be feeling run-down and using food to keep your spirits up.

How to stay emotionally healthy 

The key to your holiday emotional health is… the power of no.

This means boundaries.

It’s natural that you want to give, nurture, and participate fully in life. But doing so with no boundaries in place means you’ll give beyond your own reserves – leaving nothing but fumes for you to run on.

Which isn’t cool. And guarantees you’ll be overeating, binge eating, and using food for comfort.

So what are boundaries and how do you set them?

Quite simply, boundaries mean you only say ‘yes’ to things you really want to do. It also means saying ‘no’ to things that you aren’t so keen on, or that might do you more harm than good.

And the ‘no’ part is usually where things start to get tricky.

The power of no

Saying no gives you more time, energy, and head-space to focus on who/what is really important to you. You’ll be taking way better care of your emotional health and have more to give to your loved ones when you choose to do so.

Feel guilty, selfish, worried no one will respect or love you? Check out this idea from Wayne Muller:

“There are two kinds of compassion and care. One is honest kindness, and the other, dishonest kindness. How many times have we promised, or pretended to be available, to listen, to care, when, in that moment, we honestly had no such capacity? And do we imagine that dishonest kindness actually brings healing and ease to another- or do we seed an unintended suffering?”

Or this one from Leonie Dawson:

“You have permission to say no whenever you like, however you like, in whatever kind of voice you like, without feeling like only Mean Girls Say No and Nice Girls Say Yes. That’s bull. Yes and No have equal weighting – what’s important is if you use them when they are the best thing for you, not out of fear, obligation or guilt.

You have permission to know that Yes is powerful, and so is No. The power comes from you using either from your highest spirit and truest integrity.”

These are some truly powerful and inspirational ways of looking at the power of no.

Your ‘no’ action step

Problems with boundaries and saying no are nearly always because you’re afraid. And that’s ok – this is not something most of us are taught. Especially as women, we get definite messages about politeness, putting other’s needs ahead of our own, and even the ‘I can do it all!’ mentality.

The truth is, you can’t. You don’t even want to. So, to get you started, try this journaling exercise to work on the fears surrounding ‘no’.

Get out your notebook and make a big list of all the awful things that could happen if you said no to something. It could be something specific, like a particular holiday party, or it could be just generally saying no to things. Get as detailed and as crazy as you can.

For example: If I say no to helping Laura with her project at work, I’m afraid that:

  • She won’t like me 
  • I’ll get a bad reputation 
  • I will be known as ‘hard to work with’ or ‘not a team player’ 
  • I’ll have bad luck 
  • No one will help me when I need it 
  • I won’t get a promotion 
  • People will think I’m a bitch… then I’ll lose my job… then we won’t have enough money… then we’ll lose the house… then we’ll have to live on the street… 

Just keep going and going until the creative fear well runs dry. Some of them will seem ridiculous, but I promise there will be at least a couple that emotionally resonate with you.

Once you’ve found a couple of juicy no-based fears, you’re halfway there! The next time you get that little “I’d rather not… but I should say yes” niggle, address that fear head-on. Tell yourself, “Of course people will still like me. In fact, they might respect me more. By saying no to this, I’ll be a calmer, happier person, which will definitely make people like me more, not less.”

I have objections!

You’re thinking, “I can’t only say yes to what I want – I have obligations.” Yep, you do. And they are an obligation because on some level you want to do that thing – maybe not for the thing itself, but for the result. Or maybe you don’t – maybe you could say no. All I’m saying is, you can say no to some stuff, it’s ok.


The power of no for emotional eating

By setting boundaries and reserving some of your time and energy for yourself, you will be much better able to deal with emotional eating urges when they arise, but they’re also way less likely to rear their ugly head when you’re taking good care of yourself.

So, I challenge you: Say NO to someone today.

About Samantha

Hello! I'm Sam and I'm an Eating Psychology Coach. I work with women who struggle with emotional eating and weight loss to develop new strategies and lifestyles so they can stop using food to cope, lose weight, and eat happy.

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