Losing weight isn’t just about the head knowledge of what to eat: what’s good for us and what’s not. If it were that simple, a lot less people would struggle. Losing weight and keeping our bodies healthy is a psychological game as well. A steady, healthy diet combined with exercise isn’t just good for our bodies, but also our minds – reducing stress and providing a more balanced overall approach to life.
Losing weight sometimes requires a peek into the psyche. Emotional eating is one of the most common battles between mind and weight. “I can’t stop eating.” “Ice cream will make it better.” “I had a bad day; I deserve to eat the cheese dip and chips.” “I worked hard today; I deserve some extra pancakes on my stack.”
Have you ever said some of these? What kind of excuses have you come up with for emotional eating? Do you find yourself eating, despite the absence of any hunger pains or rumbles? Have you ever found yourself saying the words, “I can’t stop eating!” in frustration? Join the crowd – you’re certainly not alone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way around it.
Emotional eating isn’t just a side effect of depression or sadness. People eat as an emotional response to anxiety, boredom, anxiousness, excitement … a broad array of emotions. But how do you stop emotional eating? Eating can be such a natural response to emotion that it almost becomes an addiction.
For whatever reason you may be turning to food to fill in some gaps, here are a few quick tips for how to stop and start getting it under control:
- Be aware keep – a food journal of your eating habits and emotions so you can learn to identify your triggers.
- Seek power in numbers – join a program or find an accountability partner if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Replace food with something else – sip on some tea, chew some gum, suck on a mint, do a few yoga exercises, call someone, or go for a walk.
- Give yourself some time before giving in to a craving.
To really stop emotional eating you have to get down to the root, but here’s a challenge for you today: healthy snacking. Try making a conscious effort to switch over those weight and health sabotaging snacks to ones that are good for your mind and body. Reach for fruit, low-fat yogurt, vegetables with a healthy dip, or some raw date/almond brownies for a sweet craving.
For the avid emotional snacker your brain will be more satisfied with something that requires the act of chewing, and something that will last. Try things like cucumbers/carrots/jicama and hummus, raisins, goji berries, cherries, grapes, etc. – items that your body will thank you for eating. One step at a time; one day at a time. It takes practice to both create and overcome a habit.