If I had to pick one thing that it seems gets in people’s way the most when it comes to their diet, it is definitely emotional eating. You can call it stress eating, too. I found a great definition of emotional eating at medicinenet.com. It says:
“Emotional Eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food — usually “comfort” or junk foods — in response to feelings instead of hunger. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.”
I don’t want to get super deep today but I do want you to notice the last sentence of that definition:
“Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.”
I’ve said many times that emotional regulation is actually the most important part of weight loss.
What I’d like to do today is just give you a few different strategies you can use when you feel like the emotional and stress eating bug is about to bite you.
Know that you are not alone. I’ve talked to many people that swear that they are the only ones who have this problem and that everyone else has it all together. Let me assure you, this is not the case. This is a huge issue for so many people. I refer again to the above sentence: “Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.”
Where does this happen? Try to figure out where these issues occur and get your trigger foods out of there. The old rule is this: If it’s there, you will eventually eat it.
Be honest and prepare. A common version of this is when your schedule just gets in the way and you wind up eating whatever is easy and quick instead of something healthy and nourishing. Take an honest look at your schedule, figure out when eating good meals will be a problem and take some time to make something healthy that will be ready for you.
Take a step back. I know this is hard. If it wasn’t this wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. Having said that, if you don’t take a step back when things are going a little crazy this is just not going to get better. I know that emotional eating feels good when you’re doing it. That’s why people do it. I also know that most people don’t feel very good physically or emotionally when they’re done.
Understand that it’s OK. One piece of cake or one bowl of ice cream is never the reason someone is overweight. Just like one apple or piece of broccoli is never the reason someone is in shape. The worst thing about emotional eating is that for some people it triggers a whole host of negativity. These thoughts usually go something like, “I just blew it. I might as well eat the rest of the carton” or “I knew it. I can’t do this. I might as well give up.” No, emotional eating isn’t good, but it’s understandable. What’s a whole lot worse is letting one episode extend to an emotional black hole that takes days or weeks to escape from.
I know that this is a pretty simplistic view of this. I also know that this is incredibly hard for so many people (again, you are not alone). I just want to try and get you thinking a little bit about some ways that you might be able to combat this a little bit. Also, I want you to notice that I didn’t say defeat this or beat it.
It is incredibly important that you understand that this is a process. This is not about winning or losing, it’s about getting better. I know that doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as “Lose 20 Pounds In 4 Weeks” but getting your mind around this process is the only way to make this really work in a way to make your life better, and that’s what we are all really looking for. Right?
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Level 2 Lean Eating Coach, FMS
Castro Valley Fitness at 2861 Grove Way
We Help People Discover Their Strength