Anna Wootton

Master Emotional Eating by Shaking Up Your Morning Routine

One small change you can make this New Year to battle emotional eating is about setting your day out on the right path. Bear in mind that most emotional eaters adopt an ‘all-or-nothing’ pattern of thinking:

I’m five minutes late to that gym class so I may as well not bother going.

I ate a slice of cake today so I guess today’s just a diet write-off.

You get the pattern. You’re probably intimately familiar with it…

This pattern of thinking doesn’t help us in any way, shape or form. Getting to the gym class with 50 minutes to go means you still get 50 minutes of exercise in, whereas not going at all means you get 0, right? So why not go anyway?

Eating a slice of cake may mean you ate something you weren’t supposed to today but if you eat healthy the rest of the day, isn’t that better for your body than pigging out on junk food all day?

Right. Logic tells us that small missteps don’t mean much in the long term, so why we decide to jump ship and abandon our goals with the slightest hiccup is purely because we are in the habit of all-or-nothing thinking. Think about this in reverse – if someone were trying to stop you from doing something you really wanted to do:

I don’t have time to do my full face of make-up so I may as well go to that party without any make-up on at all.

I’m running behind for my daughter’s basketball game so I may as well not show up at all.

In the above examples, I have a feeling you would try harder. You’d at least do some eye make-up, or a lick of mascara, than go to a social event without any make-up on if you’re used to wearing a full face – wouldn’t you? You would definitely try and haul butt to get to see at least half or a quarter of your daughter’s basketball game than none at all, right?

So I hope I’ve presented a compelling case for abandoning all-or-nothing thinking when it comes to our goals. The reason it’s easier for us to give up in the first examples is because those are goals that push us out of our comfort zone and a bit part of us – the safe part, the self-sabotaging part, the part that resists change – it wants us to fail. It’s that little devil on our shoulder telling us just to stay the way we are, telling us that ice cream tub is our best friend. We need to ignore that devil.

If you want to learn more about all-or-nothing thinking and emotional eating, click here for an article I wrote on the topic for Cafe Truth. It’s worth reading about. But surprisingly, today’s post is not about changing all-or-nothing attitudes. While that is the ideal, let’s be realistic. If you’ve thought in an all-or-nothing pattern for many, many years, it isn’t going to change overnight. So for now, let’s try and work with that pattern of thinking as best we can.

An all-or-nothing person feels that if they ‘mess up’ on their goals early on in the day, there’s no point in continuing on their determined, goal-achieving path for the rest of the day. So the key is, we need to start the day off on a good note. This can all be achieved by a bit of tweaking of your morning routine.

Taking a few minutes for a cup of herbal tea in the morning can make all the difference to your day…

If you’ve spent every weekday morning the same way for the past number of years, maybe that’s a sign that something needs to give. Do you snooze your alarm, drag yourself up out of bed at the last possible moment, throw on whatever clothes you can think of, grab a bagel while shuffling the kids out of the house, down some coffee at work and sit down at your desk already feeling frazzled?

Look, again, I’m going to be realistic. That isn’t going to change overnight. Your responsibilities aren’t going anywhere. So instead try and reduce all of the problems you see with your morning routine down to one thing. Is it that you are too tired? Then maybe make getting to bed earlier your mini goal for this month. Do you find you wake up feeling cranky and negative? Then maybe set aside some time to write morning pages (for more on this see Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way) in the morning – this involves setting your alarm clock just 5 minutes earlier, reaching for your notepad by your bed while you are still in a groggy state and literally pouring onto paper anything that comes into your minds – just stream-of-consciousness writing for five minutes.

That was the exercise in the first week of my group program (currently in progress now!) and the participants have been emailing me all week about how revealing the exercise has proven for them. It really is astonishing what’s there, in our subconscious, ready to pour out of us first thing in the morning.

Find out more about how we can get your morning routine down by working together.

Whatever the common denominator is that’s causing your day to start off on the wrong foot, work on changing that this month, so that you can start the day as you mean to go on, and not see one mishap early in the morning as a sign that your day is shot. You’d be surprised how much of a ripple effect this one change can have!

Share what you will do to change up your morning routine right here, in the comments below.