I Want vs. I Need
...likely you've heard of it...
...snarfing 1/2 a bag of cookies after a fight with your mother, downing 4 donuts on the way home after a bad day, munching a king size candy bar as you look at your credit card statement.
It's not uncommon to have the strongest urges for food when you're at your weakest point emotionally!
Is emotional eating standing in the way of you achieving your weight goal?
If so, you're not alone.
Whether conscious or unconscious, many people turn to food for distraction or for comfort when they're facing a difficult problem.
Eating to suppress or soothe...
- sadness, or
...can sabotage your best weight loss efforts.
That's because we crave excessive amounts of high-calorie, sweet, salty and/or fatty foods in hopes they'll make us feel better. (How come we never crave broccoli and carrots???)
The good news is that if you're prone to eating when you're emotional, you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits and get back on track with your weight-loss goals.
Here's a book I love on the subject:
Breaking Free From Emotional Eating, by Geneen Roth.
Learn to Recognize True Physical Hunger
I'd like to introduce you to something I want to invent...
...it's called "The Eat Watch."
It would look kinda like a wrist watch. You'd strap it on your wrist and simply program in your ideal weight. The watch would then signal you when to start eating and then signal you to stop when you'd eaten just enough. As long as you listen to the Eat Watch, you'd reach and maintain whatever weight you set it for.
Sounds pretty good, huh?
Emotional eating is about feeding the head, not the body. (I also call this "head hunger," or "appetite." Appetite and physical hunger are not the same thing!)
Well, until the Eat Watch is on the market...
...you're gonna have to be your own Eat Watch.
The idea here is to train yourself to eat only when you are physically hungry.
Prior to eating, STOP and ask yourself why you want to eat.
Is it physical (stomach rumbling) or emotional?
If you aren't sure, check your watch. If you just ate (1-2 hours prior), chances are you're probably not physically hungry. Try giving the craving a few minutes to pass.
Know Your Triggers
Keep a food journal for a few days and you'll likely unveil the patterns and situations that trigger "head hunger."
I personally developed a mindful eating journal called Raisin Awareness, that helps make the transition from “living to eat,” to “eating to live” a little easier.
Problem eating can be a great teacher if only you stop and listen! Mindfulness, a state of being conscious of all you do and feel, is one of the best tools that can be used to cultivate a healthy relationship with food.
Make a list of 5-10 alternatives to emotional eating. Things like:
- Reading a book
- Calling a friend
- Taking a shower
- Taking a walk
- Planning a party
Hang the list on the outside (or inside) of your refrigerator so you are reminded of other things that give you comfort.
Eat Regular Meals and Snacks at Planned Intervals
Eat intentionally, not accidentally. Plan your meals in advance. Eat at fairly regular times and have a general plan of what you will eat.
You may be more likely to give in to emotional eating if you're not getting enough calories or the proper balance of nutrients. Menu planning and Journaling can help with that too!
Don't keep the unhealthy foods around!
I know, easier said than done! But, without stress, emotional eating wouldn't be necessary! So see what you can do to reduce your stress level. And speaking of stress...
Go easy on yourself. If you give in once to emotional eating, forgive yourself. After all, if you beat yourself up over it, you're creating a trigger to just do more of it!
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