Automatic Thinking..Reactive Eating!

June 11, 2012

This is addendum to the article posted on Ask the Cognitive Behavior Therapist.com/ on Automatic Thinking..Reactive Behavior.

Applying the principle points that automatic thoughts are the thoughts and images that involuntarily pop into our conscious or semi conscious mind to food situations, we can begin to see how emotional eating is related to automatic thinking.

Habitual Emotional Eating
So for example when we are emotional about something, our semi-conscious automatic thought might be “I need sugar. So eating a cupcake will make me feel better”. This is an example of a thought is likely linked to a habit. As a result the person automatically craves sweets when they become emotional.

Also since the thought of the cupcake making one feel better is tucked away from our consciousness, when we are eating the cupcake we most likely don’t recognize “the cupcake does not solve my problem nor does it make me really feel better”. Therefore its unlikely we will stop eating the cupcake because its ineffective.

So what to do:
Create a food diary that includes what you ate, how much and a simple note about your mood while you are eating.
(This exercise itself will help you to create awareness between when your moods and eating patterns.)

-Then create a daily meal intention plan.

– As you approach each day, decide when, where and what you will eat. Consider what you will be doing and what will be available to you.
-Try to be as specific as possible including breaking down protein, carb and fat goals.
-If there is a particular food that you are avoiding like red meat or french fries mark them down as red light foods.

Red light foods are stay away foods because they are either really bad for you healthwise or triggers for bad eating.

-If you are having trouble coming up with a food agenda then think about what you imagine a healthy meal plan should consist of for that day.
-Consider portions in your goals.

– As you maintain both the food diary and continue setting daily meal plan intentional goals, make note of the times when there were discrepancies (times when you failed to maintain your dietary goals). Most likely there was some emotional component to your decision to change your behavior or habitual influence.

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