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The Discomfort Deal for emotional eating

In the Sleekgeek Coaching Program, we use a strategy called “The Discomfort Deal” with our clients:
“When you feel the urge to eat emotionally, just take five minutes and sit with that urge. Set a timer if you like. During this time, simply notice what you are thinking or feeling, whatever comes up. And notice that you feel uncomfortable, but it’s okay. After those five minutes, you can make any choice that feels right.”

This is a form of delayed gratification.

In other words, the ability to resist the temptation for an immediate reward and rather wait for a later reward.

I’ve been using this strategy a LOT during lockdown to help myself resist temptations like emotional eating, anger and frustration, distraction and procrastination, and other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

It’s not just about food either. A growing body of research is showing that the ability to delay gratification is linked to a bunch of other positive outcomes including:

  • Academic and career success
  • Physical health
  • Psychological health
  • Social competence
  • Financial wellbeing
  • And so much more.

Practising the 5-Minute Discomfort Deal is an easy way to practice delayed gratification and benefit from staying on track with your longer-term goals.

  1. In the beginning, you might simply start delaying your emotional eating for 5 minutes.
  2. Over time, you might stretch this out to delaying it for 20 or 50 minutes.
  3. Then maybe delaying it for 2 hours so that you now push through your craving until your next main meal.
  4. Heck, maybe even delaying it for more than a day…

Eventually, you get to a point where you may well have forgotten about what you were feeling emotional about or what you were craving until you no longer desire that food or destructive behaviour.

When it comes to eating, it also teaches you a very valuable lesson: You won’t die if you don’t give in to your cravings immediately – even though sometimes it feels like you might.

It’s quite an empowering and freeing experience to know that you will be OK if you don’t eat right now and that you actually DO have control over your cravings and emotions.

P.S. Here are some other articles that I’ve written which you might enjoy:

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