Over Coming Stopping Controlling Emotional Eating Lose Weight

How to Control Emotional Eating

Nothing is more likely to throw a monkey wrench into a diet or weight loss program than emotional eating — the powerful urge to turn to food for comfort. You may be dealing with a difficult life situation, you may be generally stressed, you may be looking for a way to stay occupied and calm your mind, and food may seem like a refuge.

The problems with emotional eating are two fold: you tend to eat too much, and you tend to crave sweet, high-fat foods. What’s the solution? There’s plenty you can do to beat the comfort-food trap and regain control of your weight-loss program.

The Way You Feel, the Way You Eat

Eating becomes “emotional eating” when you consume food to counteract  uncomfortable feelings. Those feelings can span the whole spectrum from being flat bored to nagging financial worries, to grieving over a serious personal loss. If you’re trying to lose or control your weight, life can hand you many triggering situations that make it seem almost impossible to stay away from the calorie-heavy foods that temporarily offer solace. Those situations can include:

-Fatigue and boredom

-Stress at work

-Dealing with bad weather

-Family and relationship difficulties

-Money problems

-Job loss

-Health issues

Emotional stress makes some people want food less. But if you’re more likely to respond with food cravings, you may well find yourself getting into a pattern of impulsive bingeing, where you hastily eat whatever is around, sometimes hardly tasting it. The connection between negative feelings and eating can become so automatic that you may find yourself eating without really realizing you’re doing it.

The distracting quality of eating can also lead to bad habit patterns. While we’re eating, we don’t have to deal with anything else – so we turn to food again and again to avoid facing our problems.

Emotional eating can trap the aspiring weight-loser on a circular loop: guilt over “falling off the diet wagon”, eating more to assuage the guilt, then more guilt.

How to take control and get back on your program successfully.

Get a grip on emotional eating by following these tips to help you lose weight in a healthy manner:

-Stress management. If it’s stress that gets you opening the refrigerator, get serious about something like       meditation, relaxation techniques, or yoga.

-Ask yourself: am I actually hungry? If your last food was only a few hours ago and your stomach isn’t rumbling, the answer is probably no. Don’t head for the kitchen, but let the craving sensation pass. It will.

-Keep track of what you eat with a food diary. Record what, when, and how much you eat, and also what your emotional state is and how hungry you feel. You may see links between feelings and cravings becoming clear.

-Support is important. Family, friends, a support group, can all give you the backing you need in dealing with your problems.

-Be interested! Boredom can be as much of a trigger as stress, so don’t counteract it with snacks. Instead, do something that engages your mind – go online, call a friend, read – or your body – take a walk, exercise, pull out your bike – or both.

-Keep those diet-busting comfort foods out of your house if you can. And don’t shop for groceries when you’re feeling sad or mad; wait until you’re calmer.

-Don’t go in for severe self-deprivation. The ultra-strict approach to losing weight, which may include too few calories per day, a very limited range of foods, and no treats at all, is counterproductive for emotional eaters since it can increase cravings, and potentially unhealthy to boot. You need variety in your diet to counter the cravings, and a treat every once in a while is helpful, too.

-If you snack between meals, do it the healthy way. Unbuttered popcorn, veggies with a no-fat dip or dressing, fresh fruits. You can also experiment with lower-cal, lower-fat equivalents of some of your favorite comfort snacks.

-Sleep is important. Physical tiredness often triggers unnecessary eating as the body signals it needs an energy boost. Try napping instead of eating, or re-think the amount of sleep you’re getting.

-Consider therapy. You may try many self-help methods but still feel like you’re at the mercy of your emotional eating. A professional therapist can guide you toward understanding why you eat the way you do, and teach new behavioral management skills. Therapy can also reveal eating disorders, which sometimes are linked to emotional eating. Don’t punish yourself if you’ve had an emotional eating episode. You’ll stay off the guilt/eating treadmill by being forgiving with yourself. Tomorrow is a new day, so start fresh: think calmly about the episode, learn from it, and plan out a way to prevent a similar one in the future. Be clear in your own mind about the vital changes you’re making in your relationship with food, and give yourself a pat on the back about the good things you’re doing for your future life and health.

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