Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For the LOVE of Chocolate - and other emotional food binges....

Anyone who’s tried losing weight through dieting has probably been sideswiped at some point or another by one of the sabotage twins: emotional eating and binge eating. I know I sure have.  When you try to "diet" often you are mentally not ready to make a lifestyle change and you react as if you are being "deprived".  Weight loss, exercises and increased energy levels are due to a Lifestyle Change, not just a diet change.  Here are some tips to help you get over those "emotional moments"
See, even Barbie has her moments :)

Emotional Eating
It’s a fact of life that our bodies react with feelings of reward when fed certain substances. Think of how alcohol depresses the central nervous system, the respiratory rate, and the heart rate and in the process relieves anxiety and reduces inhibitions. Or how chocolate triggers the release of mood-brightening opiates. Or how eating sugary, high-fat foods actually signals our stress-fighting hormones to settle down.
But like alcohol, chocolaty, sugary, and fatty foods are merely short-term coping strategies to relieve stress and boost our mood. If we repeatedly lean on them to get us past those emotional dips, we will certainly pack on unhealthy amounts of fat.
To avoid being broadsided by emotional eating, try some of the control tactics of problem drinkers:
1. Keep unhealthy foods out of your environment. Don’t go there and don’t let them come to you. Recognize the situations that trigger your cravings.
2. Be ready with a substitute for those situations, such as an activity, a healthy snack, or a distraction.
3. Tackle the feelings beneath those cravings. Make it a priority to relieve stress or deal with anger or anxiety.
4. Emphasize healthier behaviours the better part of the time. Eat a balanced diet so you’re not hungry, eat at consistent intervals, and exercise regularly.
5. Give the urge for an emotional face-stuffing a little time to pass. Ask yourself if it’s a need or a habit, then wait for meal or snack time.
6. Practise saying “No.” Start with once a day and work yourself up to as many times as it takes for the habit to stick.

We will all have our moments where a Chocolate bar sounds so much more appealing than a celery with nut butter, but I find if you only have the healthy options available, you are more likely to reach for them.  You have to take the time to recognize that it the emotions that are making you "hungry" not actual hunger.  It can be difficult, I still struggle with it, but once you identify the emotions, and realize that these foods DO NOT help you feel better in the long run things get so much easier.    After all we are only human, not perfect in anyway!

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