You might think your struggle with the scale is due to an insatiable appetite, but actually it’s your head that’s in-part to blame for your battle against the bulge. I often say “weight-loss begins from the neck up.”
What do I mean?
You’ve probably heard the term “emotional eating” which its basic premise is eating for emotional reasons rather than a physical hunger. When we hear the term emotional eating it often brings to mind the heartbroken woman making her way through a pint of ice cream after being dumped.
But most often emotional eating takes place of a far more subtle scale. The majority of people who come to me for weight-loss advice eat to deal with their feelings, but because it’s such an unconscious act they often don’t realize they’re doing it. It becomes more of mindless eating and it has become such a habit, they don’t even know they’re eating because of emotions.
You see, what happens is you get into a pattern where every time you feeling anything — loneliness, anger, sadness, boredom, anxiety, and even happiness — you turn to food.While it’s not realistic to think you can banish every single emotional eating episode (hey, even I eat emotionally from time to time…sometimes a chocolate chip cookie can help turn a bad day around!), it IS possible to cut back on the behavior and ultimately lose weight.The first thing you need to do is get to the root of WHY your emotions are making you eat (or overeat) in the first place.
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Oftentimes when we overeat or binge eat we’re hoping to get away from our feelings. You’re feeling anxious so you might think to yourself "I may be upset, but at least I get to taste something good."
Food can act like a drug. We get so used to feeding our feelings with food that it becomes automatic. The second you feel a negative feeling (anger, anxiety, upset) you divert your attention to whatever is causing you angst. That chocolate bar tastes good going down, but once you’re finished eating you still have to deal with the original problem.On top of that, afterwards you beat yourself up because you feel mad and guilty about what you just did. And then you eat more to deal with that distress. It’s a vicious cycle.
What You’re Really Craving
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all soothed ourselves with fresh fruit and veggies? But no, we turn to foods high in fat, sugar or carbohydrates. Guess what? Our bodies are actually wired that way! Eating foods high in fat, sugar and carbs stimulate the brains pleasure center, so you’ll want to keep eating to repeat the experience again and again.But there’s something else going on too. Why you crave certain types of food or specific dishes are often ones you associate with pleasurable memories. Something wonderful was going on when you used to eat that food, and you want to replicate those happy times. Maybe you feasted on macaroni and cheese during fun meals as a child. If your mom soothed you when you were upset with ice cream, that may be what you reach for when your job gets stressful.But you don’t need to let biology and what happened to you as a child stand in your way. You can put a stop to your emotional eating patterns. The key is learning to identify when you’re eating due to emotions, breaking up the connection between food and mood, and learning to listen to your body.YOUR TURN: What are your thoughts — Are you an emotional eater? Do you sometimes let your feelings control your eating? Questions and Answers:
[toggle title="Cerise Arbour"]Isn’t everyone an emotional eater at times? Be it fun, be it anger, be it pity, be it whatever. The times I struggle the most with is not being able to communicate with who or what is causing distress. Lately I feel like a prowler in the kitchen or where ever I am going. Today was the worse. I ate more than I deserved today…..then oddly enough (and I am being serious here) It poured down rain today and I saw a man walking down the main road several miles from my neighborhood and he was butt naked! Butt Naked! He was carrying a plastic bag and I wondered if his clothes were in there and not wanting them to get wet. Or maybe he is just mentally ill. There are dozens of senarios of why this man (complete tat’ed) was walking completely naked in the rain carrying a plastic bag. Then the question popped in my head; “And you think you have problems?” These are the moments that we all have to reflect on to put our “eating” problems in perspective. I am concerned about overeating while and man walks the street with no clothes on. I didn’t eat the rest of the day. I’m sure all the snotty mothers in my snotty neighborhood all called the police at the same time reporting the naked man. I simply said a slient prayer for him that he will be clothed and fed. I obviously do not need either. Rest Well. My 28th Wedding Anniversary is this Saturday and it will be another day of food and drink. Let’s hope I can be intutive with my eating. Take care Dinneen[/toggle]