How to Stop Weighing Yourself Down with Emotional Junk Food

Woman Jumping

“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.” ~Rumi

I want to feel better. Who doesn’t? Yoga makes me feel better most of the time, but if I am being totally honest, I don’t always choose the healthy option. In fact, sometimes I pick the worst thing for me.

For me, a plate of BBQ wings really hits the spot. That is, until a few hours later when the salt and protein load kicks in and I feel terrible. Again.

While I may oscillate between healthy and unhealthy choices for my body, I know how to get fit through gyms, diet programs, and physicians.

But what about my steady diet of junk food thoughts? How do I stop consuming them and focus on a healthier emotional diet?

Junk Food Thoughts

Everyone knows about the negative effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, but no one teaches us about the negative health effects of our thoughts.

Worry, stress, anxiety, guilt, shame, and fear are the potato chips, processed foods, and chocolate cake of our emotional life. As satisfying as they may feel in the moment, their negative effects are just as toxic.

And, like we have particular food cravings, we have particular thought cravings.

My First Emotional Cleanse

I built a healthcare company and sold it to a Fortune 500 eleven years later. In 2006, I made the decision to change my career and pursue a path toward my passions.

As I attempted to discover my true desires, I came face to face with my emotional junk food and its effects. I felt terrible, I felt weighed down, and I could not figure out why.

Like my craving for a plate of BBQ wings, I craved certain thoughts when I faced the decision to leave my job:

I cannot leave.
I have to keep my job.
What am I going to do all day?
I am going to be so bored.
I went from $15,000 a year to an executive salary and stock options. Who leaves that?
My parents will never understand or support this decision.
There is something else out there for me.
What if I am wrong and this decision destroys everything I have worked for? 

The thoughts that I was unaware of were as toxic as the foods I know to avoid. A thought—a single sentence—stood in the way of the life I desired.

How to Stop Consuming Unhealthy Thoughts

Tune into your thoughts.

You cannot stop the negative effects of these thoughts without awareness of their existence. What are your go-to junk food thoughts? What do you tell yourself when you consider changing a relationship, a job, or any other important area of your life?

What is the exact language? Just like you may love a certain brand of chocolate or a certain type of potato chip, you will have exact language for your emotional craving.

Accept their destructive effects on your health.

One sentence can stand between you and your goals. A sentence—a set of words—becomes a belief. This belief will drive your actions. As simple as this is in concept, in practice, changing a few words can change your life. If you change the belief, you can change your actions.

In my case, removing one sentence, “I can’t leave my job,” changed my life.

Trade in your junk food thoughts for nutritious thoughts.

What nutritious foods do you like? Kale? Salads? Smoothies? Veggies and hummus? Likewise, what nutritional thoughts do you like?

Replace junk food thoughts with nutritional thoughts and free yourself to pursue your dreams.

Some examples of nutritional thoughts:

Are you avoidant?

Today, I will step forward.
I believe in my abilities.
I am ready.
I will take one action a day until I complete my goal.

Are you angry with someone?

Today, I will have compassion.
Anger is poison.
When others hurt me, they are in pain and I have tapped into my pain.
I don’t personalize other people’s pain.

Are you holding on to resentments?

Today, I will let go.
Resentments have no value.
Letting go does not mean I accept this person into my life.
I am not a victim.

Are you always behind and do your lists have lists?

Today, I choose me.
I will schedule one thing for myself today: a massage, a manicure, a workout, or a quiet room with a book.
This is my life.
I drive the choices I make with my time, even if it does not feel like it.

I wanted to leave my job and step into a career that was more aligned with my passion. One day, I discovered my problem was not the mundane details involved in changing jobs. It was the deep craving for my destructive thoughts.

This time I reached for a healthier option:

It is my right to follow my passions
I am going to write, even if it is not perfect.
I trust that my path will become clear, even if it is not obvious now.

With these simple sentences, I changed my career and found the passion in my life that I really craved.

I still struggle to make healthy choices, but now I understand that I have to forego my favorite BBQ wings and resist my favorite junk food thoughts.

Jumping woman image via Shutterstock

About Laura Coe

Laura Coe is an entrepreneur, author, and certified coach working to help you find fulfillment one day at a time through daily emotional workout routines. Laura co-founded Litholink Corporation and sold it to a Fortune 500 company, she left corporate America to pursue lifelong passions. Her first book, Emotional Obesity, is now available.

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  • Talya Price

    I want to thank you for writing this. I have been looking for signs to go pursue my passions fulltime. I am still scared, And I have no idea what will happen in the future. All I know that now I am not living my passion and I so truly want to.

    The worry of money is weighing down hard and I hate it. I just wish things were easier for me. I am scared that I wont make it to the end of the week. I have no idea if I will ever make it out. I am truly scared.

  • Hi Talya –

    Thank you so much for the honest comment. Money is a real concern. We do have to pay the bills. But the funny thing about money is that it is really a mask for our need for certainty. If you KNEW for SURE that you would succeed, then the fear would go away. Most people have trouble stepping forward because of the fear of the unknown.

    What do you want to do? What is your passion?

    My best advice is see if you can step forward in some smaller ways if money is a real concern. do anything. Spend at least two hours a day on your passions. Plan ways to make money doing what you love before you quit a job. You don’t have to leap forward, you can take it step by step.

    Hope that helps!! Each small step is a HUGE success!

  • Tir

    Wonderful. Thank you.I’m very happy with how I’ve been changing my thoughts through meditation and the tenants of Buddhism. Letting go, compassion for those who hurt me, living in the present and acceptance has shown me that fear of the unknown is the crux of most limitations.

  • Thanks for the comment – I love this. Making peace with fear, letting go, and having compassion are the keys to happiness. Hard to do, but once you get there your level of contentment goes up dramatically.

  • Mel

    I recently quit my job and moved to Australia from the UK to find my passions, hoping that experiences and being on my own would uncover a direction/purpose. In yoga classes, I feel calm and in the moment but after I feel ‘reality’ hits and I stress about what I’m doing with my life, where I’m going, money?! Then I hit the junk food too… I hate the cycle! Any advice where to start?

  • Sure – what are the junk food thoughts? Is there a theme to them? Are they about your capability? Sense of deserving? Worthiness? Is there a “not good enough” theme to the ideas? If so, you want to create a cleanse for those thoughts. Start to shed the weight by replacing them with thoughts that support your goals.

    Also, try to isolate what you love. What do you love to do more than anything? Ask friends. Ask family. If you think about creating a job around that love, what junk thoughts come up. Challenge those thoughts like you are riding a bike or jogging. Push into them!!

    Hope that is a start!! Thanks for the comment!

  • Better to struggle financially for some time in the initial stage, to live for what truly matters to you, than spend your entire life at a task that you don’t even care about, simply because of the money it earns you to pay your bills.

    It would be pretty hard to not make money from something that you’re passionate about, in the long term.

    In fact, if you look at the best people in any field, they earn enough money from their passion, to the point they don’t have to think about money any more. More fulfillment.

    Have faith. Go for it. 🙂

  • Filitech

    Thanks for this Laura! Very timely article

  • Very cool perspective and analogy. Your approach makes it easy to understand what is “bad” for us in regards to emotions.

  • Thanks for the comment!

  • Great comment. Thanks for sharing.