20 December 2009

Overcoming Emotional Eating-Your Main Weight Management Strategy

Diets inevitably lead to weight regain. This is a truth that can be explained not only by physiological factors (ie slowed metabolism), but by the fact that conventional diets do not address the underlying issues behind unwanted weight gain. One of these issues which many who find themselves constantly on diets face is emotional eating. Emotional eating is fueled by psychological hunger over physical hunger.

That is emotional eating is normally brought on by such things as emotional cues,stress, social situations, specific settings, smells, etc. These have nothing to do with a roaring stomach which is signally that you body is ready for food, which constitutes our inate ability to regulate our eating internally without any need for a diet plan. Emotional eating however causes us to no longer be attuned to these signals.

There are two instances of excessive consumption which can arise from emotional factors. The first is when we literally ignore hunger cues, not eating when we really should be or hardly eating enough (aka starvation or deprivation) and then later binging when we are overwhelmed with an insatiable yearning for food. Emotions of guilt and shame from binging will likely cause another such episode in the near future.

The second instance of emotional eating occurs when food is mainly used as a pacifier to make us feel better or allow us to think less about a problem or troubling issue. The ability to sense fullness suffers greatly as no attention is paid to when we've had enough. In both situations it is easy to get lost in eating for as long as we need the food to cope with the emotions.

To begin combating this cycle of emotional eating it is important to do several things:

1. Acknowledge and become aware if you are using food as a pacifier. True freedom begins with awareness. The hold emotional eating can have on you exists through mindless eating; it is almost as if you are in trance. To break the trance you will need to snap yourself out of it by becoming alert and totally conscious.

2. Find non-food related activities to deal with stress and negative emotions. Food is wonderful and should be enjoyed, but there are so many more enjoyable things in life as well. Many other things can relieve stress in the moment it comes about, meaning that you don’t have to leave your house or go through a long preparation to access non-food related pacifiers.

Examples of instant relievers are
• playing with a pet,
• turning the TV to a funny sitcom or uplifting program,
• playing your favorite CD
• or turning on you favorite radio station,
• playing a board game
• connecting with someone online through a social network, IM etc
• doing something else with your hands –whether it involves taking up something to read or observe, completing a task around the house or an errand, engaging in a hobby or opening the door to take a walk down the block if you feel able to.
• Have a cup of herbal tea. Yogi tea is one of the best brands, offering many flavors. And what is also great about the brand is that each box comes with an exercise to help you relax and refocus.

3. Slow down your life a bit. The more we rush, the less time we seem to have and the more exhausted we may feel. If you are an emotional eater, you may not realize it, but food has probably just become another chore on the "to do list" of your multi-tasked life. You may eat while on the phone, while driving to work, while shopping, while doing paperwork at work or at home etc.

Taking a pause during your hectic day and at meal time can go a long way to helping you become more aware.

4. Don’t skip physical activity. Exercise need not feel like a chore. There is such a thing as easy and effortless exercise when it is an element of everyday physical activity. Not only does daily physical engagement keep you fit, it also gives you something else to put your focus on besides food and it relieves stress.

To Your Enjoyable and Guilt-free Food Experiences,

Next time I will providing a short list of resources which can help you to identify and combat emotional eating.


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