Sometimes the most powerful cravings for food occur when you’re right at your weakest point mentally and emotionally. Maybe you turn to food for comfort when you’re faced with a difficult problem, stress or boredom. This can happen both consciously or subconsciously.
Of course, emotional eating will sabotage your weight-loss efforts if you don’t take steps to overcome it. Emotional munching often also progresses to eating far more than you need, and unfortunately, this is typically too much of fatty, sweet, or just plain high-cal foods. But don’t worry, there is also help to overcome this kind of emotional eating because if you take the right measures to regain hold of your food habits, you can get back on the train with your healthy weight goals.
Relationship between mood, food and weight loss motivation
At its heart, emotional eating means that you eat as a way to forget bad emotions like stress, fear, or loneliness. Traumatic events in our lives can trigger bad emotions that lead to emotional eating. And even everyday mundane events can disrupt your weight-loss efforts. These trigger events can include:
- The passing of a loved one
- Dissatisfaction with employment
- Inability to find a job
- Excessive debt
- Lack of spare time
Even though some consume less when faced with poignant emotions, some turn instead of bingeing. You could quickly consume whatever’s close, without even having a chance to enjoy it. Your feelings may have become so connected to your eating that you instinctively grab food or drink to calm yourself.
Food also gives some people the desired distraction when they’re worried about upcoming life events like marriage or also when they’re stressing about a looming conflict. Whatever feelings move you to overeat, the final result is too often the same sad outcome in which the feelings eventually come back, and you’re left now bearing not only the original pain, sadness, and stress, but also the newly added load of guilt from setting back your goals for health. For many people it leads to an unhealthy devil’s circle in which emotions spark overeating, you get down on yourself for gaining weight instead of losing it, which leads you to feel even worse, and you turn to overeat once again. The cycle continues.
Tips to Motivate You Back to the Path
Although strong negative feelings can spark emotional eating, you can take preventative measures to keep yourself from falling into these emotional eating traps. Try these:
- Control and temper your stress. If stress gives way to emotional eating, try a trick to manage your stress, like yoga, prayer, or diversion with positive activities like a good jog.
- Have a food reality check. Ask yourself: Is my hunger based on my body wanting food to function or is it just emotional? For example, if you just ate but your stomach is rumbling, you’re probably not hungry physically, so try ignoring it just long enough with a diversion for it to go away.
- Keep a food journal. Track what you eat, how much of it (in calories and portions), and how you feel when you eat as well as how hungry you feel. This way you can find patterns in your eating that will help you conquer. You can do this right here on weight loss wars in our weight loss journal section in which you share your successes, struggles and stories. You can choose to keep these private or make them public.
- Get motivation and support for weight loss. Get involved in a weight loss challenge here on weight loss wars. Find a local support group. Ask friends and family to help. Check at work to see if there is counselling available.
- Battle of boredom. Instead of munching when you’re not even hungry, divert yourself by taking a walk, watching a movie, playing with your cat, listening to some tunes or reading a great novel.
- Remove temptation. Don’t keep all your favourite munchies within reach!