Is your emotional well being getting in the way of your weight loss goals? Do you eat to numb your emotions or out of boredom? If so, read on to find out how to gain control of your emotions and even make them work for you in your weight loss efforts. It is easy to get into the habit of using food to cope with difficult emotions. Reaching for food as an emotional shield to your feelings is an unhealthy response that ends up creating extra pounds that sabotage your weight loss goals. Here are some healthier ways to deal with boredom or strong emotions that cause us to overeat.
Emotions give us great information, listen to them
Realize that your emotions are our friends, so don’t try to make them your enemies. They give us vital information about our internal state of being. They show us if we have been behaving in ways that match our value system or straying off course. If we are off course, we may feel remorse or guilt. Emotions show us when injustices have happened around us. Anger is the emotion we feel when we think there has been an injustice. So, don’t fight your emotions. Feel them deeply, but do not respond to them by trying to distract yourself with the pleasure of food. It may feel good to snack mindlessly instead of dealing with a strong emotion, but the pounds you gain will illicit more strong emotions, including guilt, which will make weight loss even harder.
Ask yourself: “Why” more often
One way to stop emotion-based eating is to ask yourself, the next time you think you are hungry, “Am I really hungry or am I just upset about something?” A food diary is a great tool to help you monitor your emotions and appetite. Jot down your emotions the next time you reach for food. Write down what you feel and if you think it is real hunger or not. Track the food that you eat, and note if you feel satisfied after one portion or if you ate more because it made you feel better. By being honest about your reasons for eating, you will find it easier to see the difference between real hunger and emotional cravings.
Don’t be afraid to confront issues instead of diverting to food
The information you have gathered will also help you identify recurring problems that you need to confront in your life. Once you have resolved the underlying issues, you will find that the cravings cease. If boredom is your main problem, then it is easy to replace the snacking with exercise or social activity. If your issues are more complex, they may take some time to resolve, but at least you will know why you are feeling so hungry and that it is a temporary state of being.
Keep track of what you eat with a food diary
Are you more emotional and hungry at a specific time of day? This is not unusual, and keeping the food diary will reveal such trends. We all have our weak times. Do you habitually snack in front of the TV or while surfing the net? You may be bored and need to find some healthier diversions for your down time. Knowing when you are weakest will help you to avoid overeating by planning a healthy snack or alternate activity instead of reaching for those chips.
Curbing emotional eating is hard, but take it one day at a time
So, now you know how to gather information about your emotions and their connection to overeating. Use what you know to stop the unhealthy habit of emotional overeating, so that you can achieve the weight loss success you deserve.
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