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For this nutrition edition of the Community Conversation, Prototype Nutrition Coach Jon Collette and Prototype Nutrition’s Registered Dietitian, Sam Hally will be discussing Emotional Eating. If you’re looking to learn more about nutrition for yourself or pick up some good eating habit tips, you will want to check this out!
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All right, thank you for tuning in to the community conversation brought to you by prototype training system home of CrossFit prototype seminar back with another nutrition episode to help provide you with some education and strategies to better your nutrition while still enjoying a social life. There’s a lot of misinformation on nutrition, and we aim to provide you with some clarity. Today’s topic that we wanted to discuss is emotional eating. So I’m sure we’ve all heard the term emotional eating, there’s many phases to it. But Sam, do you want to maybe give us like a general
idea definition of what like emotional eating is? Yeah, so emotional eating takes a couple of different avenues. emotional eating is when you’re not eating because your body is physically hungry, right? You’re like stomach grumbling, your head’s not hurting, you’re not getting like tired or fatigued. It’s because you’re either stressed out or overwhelmed or feeling anxious, or you’re celebrating something or you’re really bored. It’s a response that occurs, not because your body needs food, but because your body wants food. And so I think we see emotional eating quite a bit. And it’s not talked about all that much. So it’s a good thing that we get to talk about it today. And now I’m sure you’ve seen it in plenty of your clients, john, so definitely want you to take it away and start talking a little bit about what you seen or what you’ve experienced when it comes to emotional eating.
Yeah, I mean, I think emotional eating is also what that is. I mean, it is normal. But at the same time, we don’t always maybe realize that some of those things that we’re doing based off emotional eating is because of either a habit that’s been formed or no, I guess, what I’m trying to say is, we all kind of have a really good understanding of the things that we should or want to be doing more of, but for whatever reason, we’re struggling to stay consistent with some of those things. And a lot of it is going to be based off of emotional eating, so your emotions driving your behaviors to eat. And then also just some patterns of eating that you might have gotten into maybe some behaviors. For example, every time you finish a work meeting, you might have five minutes. So you walk over to the kitchen, you open up the cabinet, and you get that Syrah leaf where you go ahead and you get something that’s salty or crunchy, that can be like a routine and a habit that’s been engraved. But that’s really starting because of an emotion of you’re looking for comfort in some way, because maybe you’re a little overwhelmed. Or maybe you know that you have a big assignment that you need to get done. So it’s the emotions that are driving that action, versus what Sam mentioned earlier is like, true hunger. Um, so let me ask you this, Sam, what’s the best way to know, you know, how do we like how do we like where do we start with being able to know whether or not you know, am I eating based off of emotions? Or am I eating based off of hunger? Like, where would you say is a good starting point for someone that may some of the things I just mentioned might be like, ringing a bell a little bit? Like, yeah, I do those things all the time. Like, I didn’t know that that was motional eating. I just thought that that was.
Yeah, so the first thing always recommend is to kind of figure out where you fall in the hunger scale. And this is something that like, literally, if you put it into Google hunger scale, like it will pop up and it kind of goes from zero to 10 of zero is I’m famished. I could eat a horse and then 10 is, I’m so full, my stomach feels like it’s gonna explode. And so what happens is like, a lot of time, we ignore our hunger cues. And like, we trained our bodies to eat in different ways that like we don’t ever eat because we’re actually physically hungry. So we just don’t notice our hunger cues anymore. The first thing that I have a lot of my clients do is just like simply slow down. Like if they’re walking towards the, to the kitchen to grab like that bowl of popcorn. It’s like, okay, I want you to stop in your tracks like lizard literally, physically stop in your tracks. And then like, picture this hunger scale. Okay, like, Where are you on this hunger scale? Are you out of five? Or are you like getting hungry, but like, not super full, but you could use it a little bit of body nourishment? Like, why is your stomach rumbling a little bit? Are you feeling a little fatigued and kind of need to pick me up? Or, like, are you coming off of a lunch and you just ate and you’re actually closer to like a seven or eight on the hunger scale where you’re like, pretty satisfied you like feel some food in your stomach. And you’re just trying to feel like a different meat. Because I think a lot of times what happens is, like I said, like, we don’t notice these hunger cues. And so we don’t actually take a moment to step back and assess if we actually physically need food in our system. Sometimes it goes the other way around. I have a client that just does that naturally. And then what they realize is they’ve been snacking all day long and like, it feels like emotional hunger. But in actuality, it’s like they, they’ve skipped breakfast and lunch. And they’ve only been snacking all day. And so they’re like at a two on the hunger scale. And they do need food to, like, physically fill that need. So step number one, I would say is like, slow down, pause and reassess. The other thing too, is when you’re constantly eating to feel like an emotional need, or as a stress response or out of boredom, the best thing you can do is when you put that pause in is like redirect to something completely different. So it’s like, if your routine, like you said, is a work meeting finishes, and you have five minutes of time to spare, instead of getting up and immediately going to the kitchen, like get up and just walk the other direction in your house. Like if you’d like leave your room turn left to go to the kitchen, leave your room and turn right, you can still get up and walk around and move. But it’s like you’re just slightly changing your habits, but you’re not automatically going to the kitchen. Or you can step outside for a moment to like just breathe some fresh air, or you can like open a book, but it’s, it’s completely redirecting. And so like, whenever there’s that stimulus of like work meetings done, I’m gonna go get food. There’s like a new response of work meetings done. Let me go read a book. So if someone’s like noticing that this is happening, the best thing they can do is stop, pause, and try to figure out is it real hunger? Or do I just need to find something new to do with my spare time? As I see it so so frequently, and I think I feel like some people like, always feel like, I’m alone in this, like, why can’t I stop snacking? Why can’t I stop X, Y, and Z? It’s like, well, like you’ve been trained to do little things one way. And now we have to totally retrain the brain. And it’s not an easy task. And it’s not an easy solution to this challenge you’re facing. But it’s not uncommon. So it’s like a lot of people have been in your shoes. And a lot of people have gone through this. And it definitely takes some time and retrain that brain to get to a new outlet. Whether it’s reading, whether it’s walking, whether it’s actually addressing your physical hunger. But yeah, there’s the best thing you can do is stop, pause, slow down, and assess for real, what you’re feeling.
So it almost sounds like the starting point would be you first off have to identify what you’re doing that you’re, you know, that either being driven off of emotions or even like, what what what’s the, what’s the habit and behavior that you’re doing to begin with? That is impacting your consistency with you know, your, you know, nourishing yourself or just your like your, your routine in general, I guess it’s is what I’m hearing is that you need to be able to almost like take a step back and be able to kind of pick point what like, what are some of those things you’re doing?
Yeah, absolutely. Because some of them are long standing things too, right? Like I can point back like, I come from an Italian family where like food is everything, like you show people that you care by giving them food, right. So like, if I walked through the door, my parents house, the first thing they’ll do is be like, what do you want to eat? What do you want to drink? Until it’s the same thing, like when I was younger, when I was growing up, it was like, if I had a really tough day, we’d be like, have food to make me feel better. If I got a really good report card, we’d go out to dinner to celebrate. So it’s like for some people, a lot of these things are deep seated in like so many years of experiencing, like using food as a reward system. And so yeah, like, taking that time to figure out like, what is the reason that this is happening? So for me, coming from the Italian family, like food was everything. And so luckily, like I grew up with parents that like it was never like food was the thing we talked about. And so it was a celebration, but not like something I fixated on but like a lot of people come from that background. Like, maybe that’s the reason that you’re constantly like turning towards food as either a celebration or to make yourself feel better. It’s like let’s like dive deep into some of those like top emotional feelings of like, Why do you always make that choice? And it might not be something you’ve thought about in a long time. It might be something that stirs up a lot emotions, but that’s okay. It’s like a good way to address some of these issues.
Like some I mean, naturally, you’re sometimes going to you’re going to do that like you’re going to use food as like a celebration. It’s we do it all on the holiday thing but things like that, um, but what would you say is one of the more difficult ones to go ahead and change. I hear like board meeting a lot like what would like what’s your what’s your advice to someone that struggles with? They eat when they’re bored?
So a couple of different things here first, I would say, figure out if you’re under eating throughout, like the rest of your life, because we’ve talked about this before, like some people have a really hard time like sticking to a routine or an eating schedule. And so like during the week, they eat like, really good. That’s an air quotes. I don’t actually believe in eating good during the week or anything like that. But like some people say, like, Oh, I had a really good week, I ate really well. But then by the weekend, they’re just like, snacking on everything, because they haven’t eaten enough. So like, step one is figure out if you’re eating properly to feel your body. that’s step number one. But if you realize that you’re eating out of boredom, it sounds like it’s time for a new hobby. And that could be anything. a hobby could be getting outside, going for a walk, it could be coming to the gym more regularly, it could be something that’s a little less exercise focus a lot more like, I guess, intellectual, like read, write, do art draw paint color, scrapbook. Like, I don’t know, I’m not good at the arts. But you know what I mean? Like, go that direction, playing instrument. Binding hobby, rather than turning on the TV. And like zoning out while you eat some popcorn, or like scrolling through any of the social medias that are like intended to suck you in? Like, if there’s boredom, hunger, from you, for yourself from the situation that’s causing you to eat for that reason? I mean, I’m sure john, you have plenty of hobbies that you use to kind of like, not bored me, right.
Yeah, I mean, like, whenever I really just like, you got to find something to do instead of instead of eat, if you’re like opening up the cabinet multiple times and scanning it to go ahead and be like, oh, what, what seems good. I mean, you do need to, like, have like, a better like assessment of whether or not you’re hungry, or if you’re bored, or we’ve all like, have been super busy at work that, you know, the last thing we were thinking about was food. So if we almost like think like that is like when you’re not doing as much, you know, is really like is his food on your mind? Because you don’t have anything else to do? If so, it’s like, you know, what, if that’s the behavior, and that’s kind of what you’re struggling with, then was fine, something that’s going to be a little bit more better aligns with your goals. You know, for some people, it could be like, Alright, like, whenever I like, bored of me, like, maybe I’m gonna go ahead and I’m gonna go take my dog for a nice walk, like, I guarantee you, when you get back from from that walk with your dog, you’re probably gonna have a much clearer head that you’re not going to storm the cabinet, and then rationally go about that. Sometimes we’re just like, we’re just bored, and we get a little anxious. So we just want something to do. Because, you know, we’re kind of looking for comfort when, you know, sometimes it’s hard to just do nothing. So we need to find something to do. Um, but let me ask you this one, Sam, because this one’s really tough, too. What’s your advice for people that have high stress jobs, and they use food as an outlet to go ahead, and these are most most of the times you do the same people that I’m addicted to sugar, and I have like all these trigger foods and things like that, when really like, what’s triggering you is probably not the food, it’s probably the stress that you’re not handling. So what is your advice to someone that either, you know, has to have a drink every single time every single night after work? Or they have to go ahead and you know, they have to have, you know, before dinner, they have to go ahead and have several handfuls of crackers? Because they they just need something not necessarily because they haven’t eaten, maybe they’ve had lunch, but because of just stress in their life. What like what would you go ahead? And how would you best advise someone to steer away from doing that?
Is this such a good question, as soon as you asked it, I was just thinking about like the people that are instantly like, Oh, I always have a br two after I come home from work. So I’m glad that you also asked that in your question. Because this is I think a lot, a lot of people. And the thing about it is the the problem is we always address stress First, I would say that in like probably 90% of our nutrition console. What we’re doing is we’re looking at our clients lives and we’re saying what are the things in your life that are too stressful that are preventing you from eating in a way that you want to? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting time to yourself? Do you feel like you’re constantly rushing from one place? Next, and you’re just limited by time. And so people who have those high stress jobs can’t necessarily change those three big things that I just said. But what they can do is more of like the noticing and responding to all those, like hunger cues and those situations where they’re turning towards food as a de stressor. And so for some people, it’s I get home from work, and I crack open a beer just because I feel like I need to unwind. For some people, it’s like, 10pm is my only time on the couch without any kids or anybody around. So what I’m going to have to do is I’m going to like to use that time and I’m gonna treat myself to a cupcake or a bunch of pretzels, or chips and salsa, or like, whatever it might be, that is their thing. And so my biggest advice to that group of people is like, are you skipping meals during the day, because I feel like some of that emotional and stress induced hunger might be tied to just like, the fast paced nature of your job of like, let’s try to get you on a more regular routine during the day. And then my other suggestion is, let’s change that routine. So it’s not that you’re snacking on everything under the sun, and you’re not drinking several glasses of wine the night. But instead, like, let’s give you some other nighttime routine, that gets you the same kind of release. And so for some people, instead of having like a beer or glass of wine, it’s making like a really fun, fancy non alcoholic beverage, right? There’s like literally books and books and books of like, quote, unquote, mocktails, right, let’s try a new experiment of like some grapefruit juice and some seltzer and like, whatever it might be, and you put it together, and you have it in your glass, because like that is the thing that gets you really relax for the day. For other people that like, end up being physically hungry and do need a snack at 10pm. It’s like, okay, like, let’s choose options that are still satisfying and filling that maybe aren’t as like, calorie dense. So instead of having like the entire chocolate cake before bed, let’s like try some carrots and some chocolate hummus. Or, if you’re a salty person, like we’re gonna have some like vegetables with your chips. So it’s not something super heavy right before that. Um, another thing too, is I’ve told many clients is like after dinner, if they’re eating the late dinner, it’s like 8pm. And they’re still stressed out, like, Go brush your teeth. Go brush your teeth, and like nine o’clock hits. And if you’re really truly actually physically hungry, after that, you’ll probably eat, right, like you know, that you need to physically. But once you brush your teeth, like let’s unwind with something that isn’t food or drink, that doesn’t cause you to need to brush your teeth again. So like, let’s get a book out, let’s read a book. Let’s just sit down and watch some TV that is not requiring you to think about anything, like the bachelor or something that you say like, Oh, no, I would never watch that. But like something that really just like is mindless and not stressful, and maybe make you feel a little bit better about your life and how things are going right. But there’s a couple different stuffs I think for a lot of people, but stress of work is the biggest issue. And they can’t change their sleep patterns, they can’t remove that work stress. So it’s just making slight little habit changes at night, trying to figure out what to do, so that they can still get that release, but it’s productive and constructive. And getting them closer to what their goals really truly are. And I’m sure you’ve seen that a bunch to what advice Have you given to some of your clients on that
end? Yeah, I mean, the the probably the main thing that I’m hearing from you, as well as stress is driving the food, right? I don’t I don’t think I’ve ever had a client that’s like, Hey, I wake up every morning and I want to binge eat. Because like they’ve been in a relaxed state. Like they’re not like in that. They haven’t had like elevated cortisol like all throughout the day. And now they’re going head and they’re like, okay, now I have an opportunity and I have all this palatable food around me, I’m going to go ahead and eat to try to de stress versus, you know, being like, Okay, what is causing all this stress? Probably doesn’t help that you’re staring at a computer all day. Probably doesn’t help that you’re sitting all day probably doesn’t help that you’re having to make decision after decision after decision at work. And the last thing you want to do is make a difficult decision about your nutrition. So you go ahead and you that doesn’t that’s not a decision anymore. It’s what feel what’s gonna make me feel the best of this very moment. And that’s being driven from all those other things. So how do we you know, how do we go ahead and fix that Some things Sam said, like, you need to find ways to de stress. Because if like, if stress is driving you, then we need to implement things that aren’t going to make you as stressed out, could like if you get outside, and you know, even a bitch walking your dog, even just sit outside and grill up some food for dinner, like when you come back inside, you’re probably going to feel a little bit better after being out being on your feet a little bit, go to the gym, like go and move your body. Um, a lot of people implement, like a stretching routine or meditation or, like a yoga type of thing were very, like calming. And the less that the more that we can slow down and try to like, get our, you know, anxiety and get our central nervous system to calm down is going to make it a lot easier to think rationally. Um, but yeah, I mean, do you? Have you ever had any clients that will wake up in the morning, and they’re just like, yep, I want to go ahead and I want to eat everything under the sun. I mean, wake up hungry, but they’re not typically like, you know, they’re not typically like just opening up the cabinet. And just like getting whatever feels good. That’s like, that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about emotional eating is, you know, what is causing your, what is causing you to emotionally eat. And if we know what that is, we’ll have a better idea of how to be able to fix that problem, some of its going to come from what your day looks like, as a whole, if you’re not eating enough, yet, sure you’re going to be, you’re definitely going to be, you’re definitely going to be hungry. But if you never fixed, like what the problem is at hand, which there’s things that you can’t control, you can’t control that your boss is, you know, you know, hard ass, and he’s given you assignment after assignment, you can control that by quitting your job, or you can control the things that you can control, which is how you respond to that stress that is, you know, that you have in your life. Um,
and yeah, and one thing with that, like, I see a lot of times people saying, like, Oh, I want to start eating healthier. And then like, because stress has taken over, they eat in a way that’s different than what they’re expecting. And that just generates more stress. And it’s this constant like, back and forth internal Battle of like, Oh, I’m gonna eat, quote, unquote, good today. And then stress happens, and then they eat, quote, unquote, bad. And then so they’re upset about it. And then so it’s just a constant continuation of like, more stress, like food should not be one of those stressors, food should be like, it should be a neutral. Like it shouldn’t be a stressor, it shouldn’t be a de stressor, it should be a neutral in your life. And it could be a thing like you said, grilling out sore outside is a great thing to de stress. For some people baking is a thing that helps them de stress. And it’s just a matter of figuring out a way to make food like a netzero of like it’s not stressing you out. But if it is a de stressor, go ahead and spend some extra time cooking something that you like, do love to cook.
I mean, this is why we always talk about too is like, you need to find things that are sustainable for you. Because you think about being in a calorie deficit, which is what you need in order to lose weight. Some of us try so so hard to be in a calorie deficit, that all it’s doing is just causing more stress, and more anxiety. So if your diet is another stressor in your life, and that is something that is just making it, you know, a very short term type of solution in order to go ahead and I don’t know, maybe you want to lose 10 pounds. And it’s something that you can’t see yourself doing forever. Like Sam said, as soon as anything in your life becomes difficult, you’re going to not know how to respond to it. And then when you go ahead and use gain seven pounds back in a matter of two weeks, you’re gonna get frustrated give up and that’s like kind of the cycle. So we need to find things that are sustainable, but also things that you have to implement, like healthy lifestyle behaviors, not just what you’re putting in your mouth, but the things you’re doing to make it so you can make better decisions when it comes to what you eat. So it’s not emotionally driven and it’s more Yes, that ice cream cone sounds good right now. Yes, that vegetable sounds good right now. Like having like those that balance of those things versus being like crackers trigger. I can I eat the whole box. I don’t know what happened. I blacked out. Like, like, we have to be able to understand why we’re making those decisions. And back to like the unsustainability of what you’re doing with your nutrition isn’t sustainable. Like, it’s like you’re gonna go ahead and you’re going to get burnt out just like you do at work. Like you’re going to get burnt out at work if you don’t have like a work life balance. Same thing. applies to your nutrition. Um, and, yeah, we have to identify a lot of the things that are causing whatever we’re doing. If you have three drinks, or three or four drinks every single, you know, every other night, every every time you go on, you know, you you work 12 hour shifts. Like Guess what, like that’s, that’s the thing that we need to identify, we need to find ways to go had and not use that as a de stressor. We don’t want to use food and alcohol is our only de stressor. That’s fine to drink, it’s fine to eat food that is, you know, less nutritious from time to time. But if that’s your only avenue for being able to feel comfort, then that’s a problem.
perfectly set. Do you have anything else to add? Or should we wrap things up here today?
You can even wrap things up. I think we kind of talked gave a pretty good idea of what you know what type of things that to do to you know, implement change. And if anyone has more specific questions or things for yourself that you want advice on things that you might be struggling with, like reach out the samurai? I said Samurai that’s kind of cool.
How nice is that?
Damn or is Samurai? Um, yeah. But yeah, you’re going to wrap it up soon.
Alright, so like john said, reach out to us if you have any other questions about your nutrition. If this sounds like you, if this is something that you’ve been struggling with for a while, like we are here to help, please do try to sign up for a free consult with us like we can talk about it maybe gets you into a nutrition program and kind of work through some of these things. Whether it’s your stress management, or your relationship with food. I think taking some time to look at some of these things in your life, be incredibly beneficial to getting you to better nutrition and overall better help. With that said, we are all done for today. Thank you for making this far. If you have any topics for future conversations, please do let us know. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.