Sunday, October 12, 2014

How to Control & Overcome Emotional Eating

Do you find that your anger, stress or sadness are driving you to over eat?  Are you turning to food for comfort when you are going through a stressful time?  When you are bored? Many of us do!  If you are eating for emotional reasons instead of because you are really hungry, that can be a large amount of added calories that can lead to a bigger problem. 

Sometimes the strongest cravings that you have may happen when you are at your weakest point emotionally.  You may turn to food for comfort.  You might be making this decision consciously or unconsciously.  When you are facing a difficult amount of stress or any difficult problem try to keep yourself occupied. 

Emotional eating can and will sabotage your weight loss efforts.  It often leads to over eating, especially too much of high calorie, sweet, fatty foods.  The good news is that if you are prone to emotional eating, you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits and get back on track with your weight loss goals! 

The connection between mood, food and weight loss

Emotional eating is eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness. Both major life events and the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your weight-loss efforts. These triggers may include:
·       Unemployment
·       Financial pressure
·       Health problems
·       Relationship conflicts
·       Work stress
·       Fatigue
Although some people actually eat less in the face of strong emotions, if you're in emotional distress you may turn to impulsive or binge eating — you may rapidly eat whatever's convenient, without even enjoying it.
In fact, your emotions may become so tied to your eating habits that you automatically reach for a treat whenever you're angry or stressed without stopping to think about what you're doing.
Food also serves as a distraction. If you're worried about an upcoming event or stewing over a conflict, for instance, you may focus on eating comfort food instead of dealing with the painful situation.
Whatever emotions drive you to overeat, the end result is often the same. The emotions return, and you may also now bear the additional burden of guilt about setting back your weight-loss goal. This can also lead to an unhealthy cycle — your emotions trigger you to overeat, you beat yourself up for getting off your weight-loss track, you feel bad, and you overeat again.

Tips to get your weight-loss efforts back on track
Although negative emotions can trigger emotional eating, you can take steps to control cravings and renew your effort at weight loss. To help stop emotional eating, try these tips:
·       Tame your stress. If stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique, such as establishing a daily workout routine.  You can also use other techniques such as yoga, meditation or relaxation.
·       Have a hunger reality check. Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate just a few hours ago and don't have a rumbling stomach, you're probably not really hungry. Give the craving a little time to pass.
·       Create a Meal Plan OR Keep a food diary. Have a meal plan created for the week.  Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you're feeling when you eat and how hungry you are. Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal the connection between mood and food.
·       Get support. You're more likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Lean on family and friends or consider joining a support group.
·       Fight boredom. Instead of snacking when you're not truly hungry, distract yourself. Take a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, surf the Internet or call a friend.
·       Take away temptation. Don't keep supplies of comfort foods in your home if they're hard for you to resist. And if you feel angry or blue, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you're sure that you have your emotions in check.
·       Don't deprive yourself. When you're trying to achieve a weight-loss goal, you may limit your calories too much, eat the same foods frequently and banish the treats you enjoy. This may just serve to increase your food cravings, especially in response to emotions. Let yourself enjoy an occasional treat and get plenty of variety to help curb cravings.
·       Snack healthy. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a low-fat, low-calorie snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with low-fat dip or unbuttered popcorn. Or try low-fat, lower calorie versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
·       Learn from setbacks. If you have an episode of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience and make a plan for how you can prevent it in the future. Focus on the positive changes you're making in your eating habits and give yourself credit for making changes that'll lead to better health.

If you want to take charge of your emotional eating please contact me!  I run monthly challenge groups that can give you the support, motivation and accountability you need to help overcome that emotional eating!  I would love to help you establish a meal plan and exercise routine!  I can be reached via email or facebook.


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