Emotional eating can have many causes, but it all produces the same result. You gain weight and feel like you have lost control.
While you may be blaming yourself for your lack of ‘willpower’ or not trying hard enough, there is often something else at work.
Many of our common daily habits tend to undermine a manageable, healthy diet. When we are ready to make a change, we often make the first mistake straight away - we try and change everything at once. It rarely works.
You may think you are being virtuous for starting a super-strict diet but, being too restrictive can backfire. Frequently these types of diets ignore the practices that are needed to developing the skills for sustained results. (and I do not mean calorie counting skills!)
Try to make one small change at a time until it becomes an easy daily practice that you are comfortable with, then move onto the next.
What is your Trigger?
Identify the trigger that leads to your overeating and have a plan in place to counter it. Make this plan your daily practice. For example, if you find that you are getting home late from work feeling stressed and you head straight to the fridge or pantry cupboard (trigger) which leads to eating blocks of cheese, crisps and biscuits – what can your plan be?
Your may decide that your daily practice could be to pour a glass of water and take 5 minutes to sit down, sip and unwind.
What if you still feel like something after you have taken your time out?
Have healthy choices available
Decisions on what to eat are usually made when you are already hungry. You do not necessarily need to plan out each meal. Try to keep healthy options easily available – for example, fruit and vegetables that you like and will snack on instead of the crisps and biscuits or even a pre-prepared meal that you can easily heat.
So once you have finished the water and had time to change the trigger, you know that you now have healthy choices available.
Keep in mind that highly processed foods are designed to make you want to eat more, but real food fills you up on all the right nutrients.
Eating a minimally processed diet has other benefits, including, lowering rates of heart disease and type II diabetes.
Another example would be that you have identified that the minute your children are in bed and the chaos of school work, lunches and dinner is done your trigger is to dig into the ice cream – again, what can your plan of action be? For example, once the children are settled, I am going to go and have a quiet, relaxing bath.
Identify the trigger and have a plan of action in place to counteract it.
There are many triggers that can lead to emotional eating, not only stress, but boredom, exhaustion, and even social influences can lead to stress eating.
This is where a coach can guide you in creating positive eating practices and to develop a better relationship with food.
A lot of overeating happens when you are busy with something else. Make a point of sitting down and paying attention to your meal and how you are feeling, intentionally avoid the distraction of TV, social media or working while eating, this takes some practice but offers a big payoff in the long run.
Mindful eating as a daily practice will overtime help you make better food choices.
When you practice mindful eating, you can start to recognise your body’s satiety signals and you will know when the time is right for YOU to stop eating.
It takes 20 minutes for signals to reach our brain that we are full. The act of consciously slowing down, even something as simple as taking a breath or two between bites at first, can help you eat less without feeling deprived.
Quality food will make eating slowly and mindfully more achievable.
When you slow down and make eating an intentional act, you will be in better tune with your hunger and fullness cues.
If you chose to slow down, make it your focused daily practice - set time aside to eat slowly - pause, breathe and enjoy improved health and well-being.
Tip: Extend your eating time by placing down your knife and fork and taking time to chew your food. Each day try and add on a few extra minutes to your meal time.
There are many more useful skills that you could develop but take one small step by trying one of these actions to help you overcome emotional eating and improve your health.
FREE Resource: Portion Control Guide without counting calories
Aim to get the right ratio of foods (lean protein, smart carbs, healthy fats) portions for your goals. You do not need to weigh and measure everything – you can get my free resource here on how to eat the right portions without weighing or counting calories.
If you would like to discuss how we can work together or if you have any questions please do get in touch with me here.
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