Keeping Those Pesky Food Cravings at Bay
You know that consuming too many calories will only expand your waistline. You also know that binge eating on chocolate candy and potato chips is going to come back to haunt your overall health. On good days, you have no problem keeping your cravings under control and maintaining a healthy diet by eating good, wholesome food. On bad days, you’re raiding the cupboard for any comfort food you can find and sabotaging all your hard work. Emotional eating is a common affliction for many people, but fortunately, it can be overcome. However, before you can overcome the plague of emotional eating, you must first understand why you’re doing it. Read on to learn if you are an emotional eater, and how you can stop it and adopt a healthy lifestyle program.
How to Tell If Your Eating is Guided By Your Emotions
For some people, emotional overeating is as plain to them as the nose on their face. For others, a little introspection will be required to lead them to a greater understanding of why they’re unable to consume a healthy diet. A useful tool for figuring out whether or not your emotions are at the root of your weight gain is a food diary.
Buy a standard-sized notebook and make a record of everything you eat each day. This activity can be something of an eye-opener for many people, as they have no idea how many unaccounted-for calories they consume in a typical day. Then, record how you felt before each meal. Were you tired? Bored? Down in the dumps? By doing this for even a week or two, you may notice a trend and a connection between your mood and the types and amount of food you eat. If you do find such a connection, fret not. It’s time to educate yourself a little bit about emotional eating and learn some of the time-honored tools to combat it.
The negative ramifications of emotional eating
The negative ramifications that go hand in hand with emotional eating are the same as overeating in general. According to the Center for Disease Control, two-thirds of Americans are overweight, and one-third can be classified as clinically obese. Obesity can rightly be considered one of the great health epidemics of our time, as it is positively associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other health problems. For those who struggle with emotional overeating, the very behavior they’re engaging in is masking the root of their emotional problems. In much the same way as alcoholics are said to find comfort in the bottom of a whiskey bottle, so do emotional over-eaters find their comfort in the bottom of a potato chip bag.
Tip #1 Take a Breather
Before you reach for that chocolate bar, stop. Yes, just stop. Take a deep breath and focus. Give yourself a few minutes to introspect and decide whether you’re truly ravenous or if you’re just sad or bored. Take a few slow, deep breaths, making sure that you’re breathing from your diaphragm and not from higher up in your body. You can do this by placing a hand on your belly and feeling it rise and fall. Try to focus on your environment. Are there any interesting smells? Do you feel hot or cold? Just take a moment to disconnect from your thoughts and worries. Then, think about whether you feel hungry or not, and assess how you are feeling. If you really feel that gnaw of hunger, see if there’s anything else near you that would be satisfying and healthier to eat. If you determine that your feelings are driving your hunger, examine those feelings. A technique called cognitive-behavioral therapy can be very helpful in addressing the warped thoughts that lie behind our bad feelings. There are a variety of self-help available that teach cognitive-behavioral therapy, but your best may be to visit a professional therapist who is trained in utilizing its techniques.
Tip #2 Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
As most of us already know, exercise goes hand-in-hand with a healthy diet in terms of weight loss. The Center for Disease Control recommends that individuals engage in cardiovascular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, five to six times a week. Not only does cardiovascular exercise contribute to weight loss, it also lowers blood pressure and lessens an individual’s chance of succumbing to a broad spectrum of health disorders. However, for you, the emotional over-eater, exercise can also ease symptoms of depression of anxiety. In many scientific studies, exercise has been shown to be as effective as prescription antidepressants in treating anxiety and depression. So try to keep those blues away by getting up and getting moving. When combined with a healthy diet, there’s no more potent combination against weight gain.
Tip #3 Reduce Stress in Your Life
As the well-known adage says, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” You’ve learned a few ways to prevent your emotions from causing you to overeat, but why not nip the problem in the bud and stop what’s causing the problem in the first place? There are several tried and true methods of reducing stress in your life, but first you must identify what’s at its root source. If there is a situation in particular that’s stressing you out, it’s time to address it. A qualified cognitive-behavioral therapist can teach you coping strategies to deal with negative thoughts and behaviors. If it’s a problem that can’t be easily combated, avoiding it as a potential trigger may also be an effective solution. Take a bit of time to relax each day. Take a bubble bath, light some candles, schedule an occasional trip to the spa-whatever it takes to reduce your level of anxiety and improve your health.
Tip #5 Remove negative temptations and replace them with positive ones.
The final tip may be the most obvious solution of them all, but few people put much thought into it. If the junk food isn’t within your reach, you can’t eat it. Remove as much unhealthy food from your living space as possible, and replace it with low-fat, wholesome snacks, such as fruits and vegetables. When you experience a setback and give in the temptation, which will inevitably happen, you’ll be grateful that you only have carrots or bananas on hand to snack on.
Emotional eating is a crutch for many people, but it doesn’t have to rule your destiny. By getting a handle on what ails you emotionally, you can quickly take back the driver’s seat of your life and gain back control over your calorie consumption. Taking control of this is one of the effecteve weight loss management strategies you can implement. It will not only help you lose weight quickly, it will also help you live a very healthy life
Manning, Joy. Emotional Eating: What Helps. WebMD . 12 Nov 2014.
Weight Loss: Gain Control of Emotional Eating. Mayo Clinic. 11 Nov 2014.
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