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3 Tips for Gaining Control of Emotional Eating for Weight Loss Success

Posted Oct 10 2012 10:52am

Food is there to nourish our bodies and help keep them healthy and functioning. But, we eat for so many reasons beyond simply providing it with the fuel it needs to survive. Often times, food becomes the friend that can help alleviate uncomfortable emotional states like sadness, anxiety and boredom.

Unless you are a perfectly disciplined eater and have Buddha-like control over your emotional states –which applies to practically no one in this world—you have had your bouts of emotional eating. But, for some of us, the frequency and the amount of food we use to soothe our troubled minds can become problematic ,and presents a major stumbling block to losing weight. If emotional eating is standing in the way of reaching your weight loss goals, there are some strategies to help get it under control.

Weight Loss Stress picture

If you want to lose weight, lose the stress!

Make Stress Management a Priority

Stress is just a part of life, and while the idea of completely eliminating it sounds nice, it is unlikely to happen. So, if complete obliteration of this unwelcome experience is off the table, the goal then becomes finding ways to manage it more successfully so we can minimize the negative impact it has on our choices, namely our food choices.

When we are stressed, we are much more likely to eat emotionally —we are not feeling good and that box of cupcakes is calling our name– the perfect antidote to our unpleasant feelings. While you may not succeed in avoiding emotional eating every time you are feeling stress, making a strong intention to manage it better will lead to significant reduction—we are never aiming for perfection as we are just setting ourselves up to fail.

You hear so much about the importance of reducing stress that you probably dismiss it and continue on with your stressful life, knowing you should do something about it, but never actually doing anything. If this sounds like you, then you are probably the type of person who likes to see ‘’proof’’ that this is important and you are in luck.

Several studies have found that regular practice of stress reduction techniques has resulted in reduced incidences of overeating, such as the one published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, which compared the effects of relaxation training against a control group just receiving standard medical care for the treatment of obesity. The women taking part in the relaxation exercises experienced fewer episodes of depression, anxiety and emotional eating; they also reported a stronger sense of control in their eating choices. So, start doing something, anything, that helps you feel more relaxed and less stressed out.
Increase Awareness of Your Mental States and Behaviors

So much of the time, we are just operating on total autopilot. We go through the day just reacting to everything around us without taking even a second to stop and think about what is going on, how we are feeling, how are handling the issues in our life, why we are making the choices we are making.

This leads to us doing all sorts of things that are not good for us or our weight loss efforts. We just reach for that food anytime we are not feeling good emotionally and then we get mad at ourselves for being ‘’weak.’’ When you actually start becoming more aware of what you are thinking and feeling and the subsequent choices you make based on those thoughts and feelings, an amazing thing begins to happen. You start to understand what is driving your emotional eating, which leads to insights on how to resolve the problem and do it less often.

Awareness of an issue is the first step in fixing the issue. There are lots of ways to increase awareness; two of the most powerful for me personally, are meditation and journaling. Meditation helps us become more aware of what is going on in our mind and aids us in responding to situations, rather than automatically reacting in destructive ways.

Journaling helps bring all the junk in our minds out into the open where we can analyze it and think about it in a productive way. You will gain greater clarity about your emotional eating triggers, figure out ways to handle the situation differently—all of this will give you a greater sense of control.

Work on Fortifying Healthy Eating Strategies

Whether you are using a weight loss system or doing it on your own, the success of your weight loss journey essentially lies with you and the choices you make. Developing healthy eating habits is key to successfully dropping those pounds, and if you get some strategies in place to encourage healthy eating, a reduced tendency to eat emotionally will naturally follow.

Stock your house with healthy snacks like fruit and nuts and ditch the potato chips—a fruit- eating binge will do far less damage. If you are not one to cook every night after a long day at work, prepare some meals over the weekend and freeze them…having a healthy dinner all ready to go when you are feeling stressed, anxious or sad will help avoid gorging on chips or drowning your sorrows in a nice, gooey pizza from the joint around the corner.

Allow yourself treats to avoid feeling deprived—telling yourself you will never eat sugar again is not realistic. Adopt changes gradually and set mini-goals to develop long-lasting change.

About The Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who focuses primarily on health and wellness content. If you are trying to lose weight, a structured eating plan that provides guidance and offers strategies for permanent lifestyle change may be something to consider; check out the Weight Watchers diet review for more information on one such plan.

Besides her contributions to , Kelli has also written for a variety of other health blogs and especially enjoys writing about healthy weight loss and changing eating habits. She has a passion for personal development and healthy living and self-improvement is her number one hobby.

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