I have really specific memories of the first diet research I did. I was about 12 years old when I decided that I needed to go on a diet. Truthfully, I should have cut back on sweets and soda long before that. But I didn’t really understand the concept of a “diet” until then. I found a good bit of exercise and diet advice in teen magazines.
It was the typical “eat less, move more” type of stuff. Some articles even suggested that you could target specific problem areas of fat deposits with certain exercises. Unfortunately, people still operate under this misinformation.
It’s kind of sad that I found myself in that situation. None of that information was very helpful to me. It never treated the root of the problem.
As an emotional eater, I eat when I’m happy. I eat when I’m sad. I eat when I’m bored.
I eat when I am procrastinating. I eat when I feel discomfort. I eat to not feel things, emotional things.
The answer to emotional eating is not “eat less, move more”. Or “just cut out soda”. The answer to compulsive eating is not “don’t eat when you aren’t hungry” – though that is good advice. The answer to binge eating is not advice like “stop eating when you’ve had enough”.
As a child, then a teenager, then an adult with a weight problem, I can say that I heard SO much advice like this. Except that it never really stuck, until I learned the concept my coach calls “buffering”.
It’s taken a while for me to recognize buffering in my day. If you pay close enough attention, you will notice it in yourself. Just start with trying to notice it. When you feel like eating when you aren’t hungry, try to pay attention to why. What are you feeling, thinking, what is going on in your life?
I notice that when I get home from work, even if I wasn’t hungry up until then, I just feel the need to snack. Part of it is the habit of eating supper when I get home, but there’s more to it than that. Stepping into the house, walking to the pantry feels like a transition to home life. I change from a supervisor, employee and coworker to a wife and mother. For some reason, the roll transition leads me to food. Noticing it helps me to step back and first ask if I am really hungry. If the answer is yes, I eat. If not, I wait until I am hungry.
I bet you even buffer with social media. I do.
When I’m feeling bored or not ready to start a new task, I will sometimes sneak a peak at instagram or facebook.
It gives me an opportunity not to worry about the task I need to complete, or the uncomfortable feeling I’m experiencing. However, if I slow down to recognize what I’m doing, I can see how I am not being fully present in my life because of buffering.
Buffering takes many forms – eating, shopping, email, social media. Recognizing it is the key! It’s so, so important. Maybe you’ve already recognized this pattern in your own thoughts. Drop a comment below, tell us how you handle the desire to buffer.