Ok, I’ll admit it, I am thin. In fact, I have always been thin. And because I am thin, people have a hard time believing how much and how often I eat. Let’s just say that I have been blessed with “skinny” genes and I workout a lot.
However, one thing about me is that I love food and I eat for other reasons than being hungry. I eat when I am happy. I eat when I am sad and I eat when I am bored. I am an emotional eater. The degree to which I eat for other reasons than being hungry fluctuates with my stress level. I know that I am not alone with this. I can’t count how many times I have heard Oprah broach this subject on her show, which let’s me know that millions of you are there with me.
Anxiety, stress, frustration, sadness and feelings of joy all lend a hand in defining how you relate to food. To overcome emotional eating, food must not bee seen as a way to resolve or accompany your feelings.
It can be especially difficult to do this if you are using food for comfort. People who turn to food for comfort find a coping mechanism that won’t judge them, hurt them or tell them “no.” And to complicate the issue, eating pleasurable foods can stimulate the release of endorphins just like exercise–making you feel better.
But, how do you know you are using food in this way?
* Are you eating for other reasons than being hungry?
* Do you fantasize about your next meal?
* Are you gaining weight?
* Has anything traumatic happened in the last year?
* Are you dealing with a problem but haven’t found a solution?
* High fat foods like French fries, fried foods
* High carb foods like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes
* Sugary foods like ice cream, donuts, cookies, cake
Answering “yes” to any of these questions could mean that you are an emotional eater or at risk for emotional eating.
Overcoming emotional eating is a two-part solution. Both the body and the mind have to be addressed for lasting success. Addressing the weight loss without the the mind will leave you vulnerable to future weight gain. This has been illustrated time and time again with Oprah and Kirsty Alley who have both admitted that in times of their weight gain, they weren’t doing so well emotionally.
Addressing the weight loss
- Only bring “healthy foods” into your home (you know what this means)
- Have a set number of daily meals/snacks (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, snack, dinner)
- Regulate your portion sizes
- Eat breakfast
- Use a program like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig. howev
- If you are hunger between meals/snacks try drinking a glass of water (you may be thirsty)
- Limit sugary foods like ice cream, donuts, cookies, cake (one technique is to have them only when you go out for dinner
- Start an exercise program (get a personal trainer for motivation if you need to)
Addressing the mind
- Think about why you are eating. Are you bored, sad, happy, frustrated or hungry
- If you feel like eating for some other reason than being hungry, do something else instead. Fore example do your hobby
- Seek help from an internet community, close friend or professional. Even watching a television show like “The Biggest Looser” can serve as inspiration
From personal experience and stories that I have heard, emotional eating carries guilt along with it. Wouldn’t it be nice to eat the food without the guilt?