We all know clients who turn to food to relieve everyday anxiety — and the extra pounds might even be the reason they have invested in personal training sessions. Whether their anxieties are tied to their spouse or children, caring for elderly parents, a move or being overwhelmed in the workplace, here are four simple solutions to help them overcome this common (and fixable) problem:
1 – Come to terms with the issue
You can’t face a problem when you’re not aware there is one. We’ve all, at some point in our lives, eaten something to satisfy an emotional need instead of our growling stomach. If you have a client who confesses they ate an entire pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream following a rough day, let them know there are other options to eliminate stress. Explain to them that although this is something a lot of people struggle with, emotional eating is an issue that can quickly escalate and can reverse all of their positive achievements in the gym. After all, they might think eating poorly following a stressful situation is acceptable.
2 – Get moving
When searching for a method to release stress, your client will feel better by doing something physical rather than eating. Going for a walk outdoors or challenging a friend or family member to a quick ping pong match can get their mind focused on something else. If they don’t respond well to your suggestion, toss out yoga or simple deep breathing strategies. Allowing their mind to clear in a natural way will help them make good decisions, both when hungry and when not!
3 – Treat food properly
Explain that inhaling sweet treats or starchy comfort foods will almost always lead to overeating. High-fiber choices that include whole grains, fruit or vegetables can help keep cravings at bay and won’t leave an aftertaste of regret. On the flip side, skipping meals isn’t smart either. Every person is different, so while one person can’t stop eating chocolate when they are sad, another might lose the urge to eat anything at all during a rough patch.
4 – Identify triggers
If you believe you have a client who eats more when put in trigger situations, encourage them to talk it through with you, a close friend or their physician. Whether they overeat in social situations, like chowing down on greasy mozzarella sticks when at a restaurant with others, or they eat poorly when they are overcome with boredom — suggest they create healthier habits or new traditions that will lead them on a positive path.
If your client is concerned it’s too late to get back on track, tell them it is absolutely not too late! Encourage him or her to write down a schedule and stick to it. They should go to bed at a specific time, set their alarm clock for a consistent time, keep track of their food intake and arrive early to all appointments with you, for starters.