Some people are so eager to lose weight that they will try just about anything. There are many sensible diet plans to help shed the extra pounds, but there is debatable logic behind certain other diet plans. For example, there are fad diets out there that require methods such as chewing every bite you take exactly 32 times (the Chewing Diet) and ingesting a tapeworm, so that everything you eat is split between your body and the tapeworm (the Tapeworm Diet). However, it's almost impossible to lose weight successfully without taking your mental state into consideration.
Emotional eating is a large factor in overweight and obesity. If you frequently eat due to overwhelming emotions rather than eating when you are hungry, you may be an emotional eater. Perhaps you eat to relieve stress, reward yourself, or alleviate feelings of anger, depression or anxiety. Emotional eaters generally consume foods that are high in fat, calories and empty carbohydrates. They will crave comfort food rather than food that is healthy or high in protein.
Almost everyone eats their feelings every now and then, but if you make it a habit, it could lead to weight problems and other unhealthy habits. Over an extended period of time, emotional eating can become an increasingly difficult habit to break.
Here are some signs of emotional eating:
• Frequent, sudden and urgent desire to eat
• Unhealthy food cravings
• Subconscious food consumption
• Failure to stop eating when full
• Guilt or regret caused by eating
If any or all of the above points describe you, maybe these 5 tips will encourage mindful eating and lead to a healthier lifestyle:
1. Find a creative outlet to help you express your emotions in a healthy way.
Find a creative outlet that you enjoy such as painting, dancing or writing. Instead of bottling up your emotions, channel them into something productive and enriching. Keeping a journal is a great way to do this.
2. Take small steps towards healthier lifestyle changes.
Don't expect yourself to change your lifestyle habits overnight. It is less overwhelming and more realistic to take baby steps and then work your way up. Gradually start keeping healthy foods on hand, make exercise a regular part of your routine, find a healthy outlet for your emotions, etc.
3. Slow down.
Avoid wolfing down your food or gorging yourself on anything you can get your hands on. Try eating several smaller meals per day, and actually pay attention to what you are eating at mealtime.
Meditation is a great stress reliever and can help you slow down and focus on what you want to achieve.
5. Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I eating because I am feeling hungry or because I am feeling emotional?
What emotions am I feeling?
Is there a healthier way to address what I am feeling?
If practical dieting hasn't worked for you, try to refrain from fad dieting. By getting to the root of your emotions and adopting mindful eating habits, you will be well on your way to a better, healthier relationship with food.
If you find it has been difficult to control or manage your emotional eating on your own, psychotherapy is another option to consider. Psychotherapists can help you identify and make sense of the emotions you're swallowing, so that you can find sensible solutions that make you feel less compelled to engage in emotional eating.