In order to sustain naturally healthy eating habits, you need to change your relationship with emotional comfort.
You don’t need to shut it down, dismiss it, or stigmatize it. You need to normalize and validate it.
Because, urges for emotional comfort are perfectly natural for you as a human. Rather than resisting this, you can learn to work with your desire for comfort in your life.
The key is to begin separating non-useful comfort from useful comfort. Where you engage in comfort deliberately without it affecting the bottom line of your weight loss.
This means, you can feel safe knowing that emotional comfort is available to you, and your weight loss progress doesn’t have to be at risk.
In this episode, I’m sharing how you can begin re-defining the concept of seeking comfort for yourself, in a way that helps you create a sustainable experience of healthy eating and weight loss.
Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the podcast this week. As usual, I am so happy you are here. I am so happy you’re taking time out of your day to spend time together today. And today we’re going to talk about the concept of controlled comfort. This is something I feel like I have truly mastered in my life. This is something I feel like has made all of the difference when it comes to healthy eating, maintaining weight, and having an experience of those things that feels not only sustainable, but enjoyable and indulgent.
And so this is a topic that is very near and dear to my heart. And this is a common topic that comes up with my coaching clients as well. Really a priority for these clients in own your eating habits is that they learn how to eat healthy, lose weight, and maintain their weight in a sustainable way.
And when we think about how that can be sustainable, it’s not just what we do. So it’s not just the way we eat or how we lose the weight, it’s how we feel in the process of taking those actions. And in this episode, what I really wanna talk about is the concept of comfort and how for a lot of us, when we have an interest in health and personal development, we tend to think of this concept of comfort as a negative thing.
So there’s a lot of talk in the personal development community about pushing through discomfort and being willing to be uncomfortable. And how discomfort is the fuel for your dreams and the body you wanna have. Now, I think there is a place for that 100%, but that is not the only angle that you can look at your progress from because at the end of the day, it is a very natural and human thing to desire comfort.
And most often when we think about desiring comfort, comfort, we think about the concept of eating for comfort. So this is really the basis of emotional eating. Emotional eating doesn’t always look like we’re on the couch watching, you know, the notebook with a tub of ice cream. It can look like little emotional eating decisions throughout the day. And that’s actually how it most often will occur for most of us as humans. And this is just us wanting little hits, little amounts of emotional comfort throughout our day to help us regulate our stress.
Now in own your eating habits, what clients learn is how to normalize this need for comfort and to not make themselves wrong for it. And they learn how to regulate stress and their emotions without needing the food and the emotional eating to do that. But first thing in this episode, I want you to normalize any urges for emotional comfort you may have when it comes to food.
And for all of us, this can look like we have a long day of work. We come home, we sit on the couch, and we just want to order delivery and just eat our favorite foods. Or this can look like when the kids are giving you a hard time or your partner’s given you a hard time and you just wanna nibble on some snacks because that feels more satisfying and it feels easeful. Now, that is normal to have the urge to do these things, but the problem here that we can acknowledge together is this doesn’t allow you to be at the weight you wanna be at it.
It affects the bottom line of your weight loss. So that means things have to change. We can’t reach for food as a source of comfort emotionally. And that is what I want to talk about here today, is how you can go about that process of not emotionally eating when you desire emotional comfort.
Because on one end of the spectrum, we do want to acknowledge emotional processing. And this is a skill that women in my program learn. We do want them to be processing their emotions and acknowledging them fully and not suppressing them. That is one end of the spectrum. But on another end of the spectrum, which is not talked about enough, is that it’s okay to indulge in some comfort. We just want you to be able to indulge in comfort in a way that doesn’t affect the bottom line of your weight loss.
And I think I’ll say that one again. You ready? It is okay for you to want to indulge in comfort, but the goal is for you to do so in a way that doesn’t affect the bottom line of your weight loss. And so if eating or your favorite foods or you know, coming home at the end of a long day and sinking in the couch and just comforting yourself with those foods, it’s your go-to.
You’re not going to be able to create the weight result you want. And so we want you to be able to feel like there are ways to engage in comfort without having to rely on food in those moments. And how I separate this in my coaching practice is between the concepts of reactive comfort and deliberate comfort. And so when we think about comfort, what we’re referring to is when emotionally we feel stress or discomfort, we can provide ourselves self-soothing comfort and just allow ourselves to have that exhale.
At the end of the day, there’s reactive comfort, which means we don’t plan for it. It’s of course reactive, and we feel like we just have to reach for the comfort because we have no other choice. It just feels like we need a break. We are overwhelmed, we’re exhausted. And so this is when we’ll reach for the food because it’s entirely reactive.
Food as a source of comfort will always work. It works every single time. And so if you are reacting to your desire for comfort, this is gonna be a very easy go-to for you. And this is of course, what we want to stop doing because you can’t lose weight and emotionally eat in this way. Now, a way to kind of uno reverse this to supply yourself, well in this area of your life is of course emotional regulation, which is a separate skill that I coach on.
But it’s also to be deliberate about your comfort. It’s to have a plan at the ready for when you know you’re gonna come home from work or after you drop your kids off at school that you will go to when you desire that comfort. And not in a way where you’re judging yourself for wanting that comfort in a way where you’re willing to provide yourself some comfort without it affecting your bottom line of weight loss without you overindulging in food.
So that is the goal here. We’re trying to switch from reactive comfort to where you feel like you don’t have control and you just have to overeat and you’ll start tomorrow, because today you just need to de-stress to deliberate comfort where you’re going to anticipate ahead of time that you’re going to experience emotional stress or overwhelm, and you’re gonna have moments where you just want to exhale. We’re going to plan deliberately for that, and you’re going to decide ahead of time how you’re going to comfort yourself without it being in the form of food.
Here’s the take I love to offer my clients when it comes to comforting yourself. And I want us to think about this within reason, right? So the take I want to offer you is that I want you to think about everything that is necessary for your health, for your wellbeing.
So that is eating in a way that is healthy for your body. It’s not emotionally eating, it’s not overdrinking providing your body with its needs for you to be safe and healthy. Everything else goes, everything else is fair game , when it comes to you giving yourself that comfort. And I’m saying this is within reason, right? We’re not saying anything that affects your health or affects your wellbeing. But an example of this is, I’ve had quite a few clients actually who of course come to me because they want to solve their emotional eating.
They want to stop emotionally eating in their life. And what’s interesting is they have this relationship to seeking comfort, that to seek comfort is negative. It’s almost this taboo concept that’s created in the health community. And so they think that the solution is to try and turn off this need for emotional comfort and to dismiss it entirely, and that if they feel like they want to seek emotional comfort, then they’re not being tough enough.
They’re not being committed or determined enough. So there was a lot of judgment there. So I had a particular client, um, who really, really loved reality tv and I think her favorite show was Real Housewives. I think a lot of us have been there. So she would put the kids to bed and find herself staying up an extra hour or two to wa to watch Real Housewives. And within that time, she would overeat to just seek that comfort and really, really just indulge. But what was interesting is she was making that entire act of those two hours after the kids went to bed almost dirty, morally wrong, and she was stigmatizing it like she was wrong for doing those things.
What I could help her see was that it can’t be morally wrong what she decides to do with her time. There’s no judgment Police, we are adults, and we get to decide what is right or wrong.
So one that does not exist. But two, the only thing that we saw that she actually wanted to change was to not emotionally eat because she wanted to reach her ideal weight. She actually wanted to devote that time to watch her reality TV and to just indulge and to just seek comfort and to be in that comfort during that time because that was not affecting the bottom line of her quality of life for her. Now, now we’re not saying this is the same for all of you, but I want you to really see what I’m saying here is that sometimes we put ourselves on moral high ground when we think about not indulging in comfort.
And that is not the purpose of this. All we are concerned about for you is you being able to create your goals with weight loss and healthy eating. We do not have to make all forms of comfort wrong in that process.
So for this client, actually, what really helped her to lessen her emotional cravings for food was rather than resist this hour or two after the kids went to bed, she started planning for it ahead of time. So she turned reactive comfort into deliberate comfort where she gave herself this space to engage in that comfort on purpose from an empowered place as the decision maker in her life. I kid you not y’all, she would schedule Real Housewives in her calendar instead of reacting to it.
And instead of finding herself feeling out of control of that moment, her cravings went down. I think the best part of that time together was that she was able to lose the weight she wanted to lose while prioritizing Real Housewives , which is my favorite thing. But I hope that you can see an idea of how this may look for you.
It may not be reality tv, it may not be staying up another extra hour or two after the kids go to bed or, um, after your partner goes to sleep. It could be anything. But I want you to first start normalizing this idea of wanting comfort a emotionally and indulging in that. And I want you to know that you can have a deliberate and empowered relationship with that part of you. It does not have to mean you’re out of control if you are deciding to not be reactive in that area of your life.
The biggest part of this is we have to remove the judgment that we have of ourselves as humans for desiring comfort. This can happen a lot in the health community and the personal development community is all of this empowering language about discipline and grit and determination we can use against ourselves.
And take that to mean that to engage in comfort and to seek comfort means we’re not being strong enough means we’re not being committed enough. And that’s not true. You can be determined. You can be committed, you can have discipline and deliberately include comfort in your life that does not affect the bottom line of your weight loss. And this is the best news, , right? Because I know me as a human, I love all things comforting and cozy. It is a pillar in my life.
Anyone who knows me knows there’s nothing I love more than sitting in my little nook with my tea or coffee, reading a book and just having me time. And so if you can really make the shift in your life and move towards that deliberate comfort where you are the boss of it, it can change things massively. And on a tactical scale, it can actually reduce your emotional urges over time because you’re supplying yourself with that deliberate comfort in a useful way on purpose.
And tactically also why this can be so effective when you are deliberate about your comfort is that you are supplying yourself with useful comfort on your worst days. So when the worst days come and you have a very stressful day at work, or something happens in the office, or something happens with one of the kids or anything in your life, it is the worst days you have already supplied yourself with useful comfort that you can go to on those days.
So you’re not reacting to the bad days and then indulging in comfort in a non-useful way. You have made a promise to yourself, your wellbeing, and your body. Hey, I’m not gonna judge you for wanting comfort. That’s a need you’re expressing to me. So I’m going to deliberately create space for you to feel comforted in a way that does not affect our health.
That is the ultimate act. That is the ultimate act of partnering with your body, with your nervous system, and with yourself when it comes to your healthy eating and weight loss journey. This will build self-trust with yourself, that you can take care of yourself, and that you are the best steward of your health. It really allows us to feel nurtured and supported in this process of long-term healthy eating and weight loss.
So I really want you to consider this today. Have some fun with it, and I recommend if you want a mini exercise here, come up with a list of what non-useful areas of comfort are for you that affect the bottom line of your wellbeing and health. We’ve all got ’em, but without judgment, just come up with what those are and develop an awareness around them. And then I want you to have some fun with creating a list of what your useful forms of comfort are for you that do not affect the bottom line of your health, wellbeing, or weight loss.
And feel free to be a little bit indulgent with these. There’s no moral high ground here that we have to meet. You are allowed to just engage in deliberate comfort in your life in a controlled way. I’ll right my friends. I hope this was helpful and gave you a new perspective on this topic. As always, thank you for being here with me today, and I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified life and health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.