So did you make your list? Your list of triggers? Last month I asked us to explore the emotions, situations, and foods that propel us down the path to unconscious, mindless eating. Regardless of what they are, how long-standing and deep-seated, we no longer have to respond to our discomfort by eating when we are not hungry. What a novel idea! I have control over what I put in my mouth and when I do it!

Let me share one of my recent success stories. A month ago, my husband and I discovered a lump on our youngest cat, Mickey. And the lump was big! Where did it come from, we asked, as Mickey is always demanding attention and wanting to be rubbed down daily. After an examination by our veterinarian, Mickey went in for surgery on a Friday morning. My husband, who was going to pick him up later in the day, called me and left a voicemail message but the message was vague regarding what our vet found.

You know when you know that something is wrong by what someone says – or in this case – by what someone doesn’t say? At that moment my anxiety started to rise and I found myself flying around my office looking for something – anything – to eat, to calm my nerves. An apple? A piece of hard candy? A can of soup? None of these would do the trick until I found the jar of peanut butter. As I opened the jar and started to shove the spoon into it, a voice inside me asked, “What are doing, Ilene? Are you even hungry? Is mindlessly eating peanut butter going to change Mickey’s prognosis?” So I closed the jar, sat down in my chair, and took a series of deep and cleansing breathes.

So what happened here? I paid attention – firstly to my rising anxiety. Secondly to the body wisdom that asked me to question my hunger level. And thirdly to the voice asking me to challenge the belief that my eating when I wasn’t hungry would change the course of human (or cat) events.

And finally, I breathed. I cannot stress enough the importance of breathing – deep inhale breaths through the nose, and long, cleansing exhalations through the mouth. Breathing slows things down – the chatter or frenzy in our minds, our accelerated heart rates. And breathing fosters peace, calm, and the sense of balance that we need to make good decisions. In the moment of breath, we move from adrenaline state where we are fired up, to the oxytocin state of well-being.

What I did not do in the above scenario was judge myself. It would have been easy for me, the BodySense expert, to yell at myself for even thinking of food to calm and soothe, let alone sitting with an open jar of peanut butter. If I had been self-punishing, I would have missed out on the awareness of another trigger situation – feeling completely out of control of the well-being of one of my loved ones.

Mickey is fine and healing well. I still have an unfinished jar of peanut butter in my office. Life is good!

Author's Bio: 

Ilene Leshinsky is a licensed clinical social worker with over 17 years of counseling experience. In her Plattsburgh-based private practice, she works with women who desire more joy and fulfillment in their lives. Ilene’s BodySense program is open to women of all ages who want freedom from food, weight, and body obsessions and who want to develop a peaceful relationship with themselves. Ilene can be reached at 518-570-6164,; or