Eating When You Don’t Want to Be? — Try HALT!

Small Group  Support

I have spent some years of my life in wonderfully  healing Twelve Step Programs, and many more years counseling others who have also been in those groups in those rooms.  An acronym turned guiding philosophy in those programs is H.A.L.T., which stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired.  These are the states to be guarded against if we want to avoid sliding back into addictive behaviors with whatever substance or lifestyle it is that pulls at us into what we mistakenly think will give us the peace, serenity, and the fully alive state we desire for ourselves.

In my last post, I shared some thoughts about cravings, and the fact that they usually come to us bearing a message.  I think that the message that they often carry to us is that we are, in fact, too hungry, too, angry, too lonely, and/or too tired.  Think about it.  Does this ring true for you?

Hungry? Angry,? Lonely,? Tired?

For example, consider your experience with anger for a moment.  As we grow and heal ourselves into greater and greater wholeness and health, anger is an important and vital force for us.  It is an appropriate emotion when it is used for our protection of ourselves and our loved ones, particularly our cubs.  However, anger can become an addiction unto its own, resulting from hanging on to long-time hurts and old pain.  At some point, forgiveness is essential to moving on with our lives and moving into health, letting go of our past, and allowing more good into our lives.

On the other hand, if we repress anger with food, as many of us do, we may be missing the important messages that it has for us.  The message may be as simple as, “You are angry,” in which case we can acknowledge the feeling for what it is and move on.  Or, it might be bigger, as in, “You hate your job and need to do something about it!”
Is it the job?
Whatever the case, it’s just very important do deal with our anger for what it is.  Avoiding it, stuffing it down with food instead of looking at it courageously will not make it go away.

So when a craving comes your way and you feel a big urge to overeat, stop and say, “HALT!  What is this about?  Am I too hungry, to angry, too lonely, too tired?  What?” 
Journaling can be a very helpful tool when dealing with any of these HALT warnings. If it is anger, to continue with our example, that keeps finding its way into our lives, pay attention to it, address it.  Try writing about it.  Talk to the anger.  Is it time to do something about your anger?  Is there some action that you need to take that confronts the anger directly rather than hiding from it with some comforting, and probably non-nutritious food?  Is it time to let go of the anger?  Have you been carrying it too long?  Brainstorm about possible actions to
take. Or write a letter to your anger, setting it free.
Journaling — is good HALT tool

Then treat yourself to a well-chosen healthy snack or meal.  You’ll feel good in your everywhere!

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