Have you ever wondered why you eat junk food loaded with Tran’s fat and sugars instead of a healthy food item? Do you eat when you are hungry or the other way round? Over the years, one of the most destructive habits most have developed is to eat/drink anything to suppress or worse relieve negative emotions.
One of the key factors responsible for people putting on weight is the unregulated food that goes through the mouth. As the old saying goes that eventually all of us do work for our stomach seems to have been taken in the literal sense by quite a few. Working with people in improving their wellness over the years, has given me some amazing insights on ways and means to identify the emotional eating habits.
There are a few key areas I focus on with my clients when I find that they are eating more for emotional fulfillment rather than to fuel themselves. Some of the areas I focus upon to begin with are –
Recognize your hunger: Most of the time people are not hungry but actually thirsty. Try this approach, if you have already had your regular meals and still feel hungry in-between. Gulp a big sip of water and most of the time the hunger disappears. I am not in any way advocating a liquid diet but sensitizing the fact that one needs to recognize your hunger and plan accordingly.
Eat within 2 hours of waking up: I come across far too many people who begin their day early and then think of eating a heavy brunch or a lunch. Ideally one needs to have a good balanced breakfast or even a bowl of fruits prior to breakfast. What this does to an individual is that the neural pathways get created and inadvertently helps in the food intake getting more disciplined during the day.
I have noticed that people tend to eat more sugary & junk food during the day, when they do skip breakfast. I can convincingly say that a good balanced breakfast will help in overcoming emotional binging to a large extent.
Confuse the brain: As I have mentioned earlier, we humans are creatures of habits. Once we find solace in something, irrespective it being an empowering or dis empowering habit, we stick to it unless we take the initiative to replace it with something else. In this case I have seen that by looking at doing something positive say going out for a walk, calling up a friend or as in my case listening to some music, the brain moves on in another direction.
Begin small and you will move away from homing on some kind of food for emotional support to doing something constructive.The idea here is to make the brain follow new patterns which eventually will become an empowering habit.
Maintain a food journal: The easiest thing to do to monitor your food intake patterns is to maintain a kind of an account of whatever goes through your mouth. According to me, it does works in two ways. One is, you will be more accountable and secondly it helps one realize where one is going wrong. This will help you make a more conscious decision going forward. There are many ways to keep a journal, however my favorite is Google Docs which is very user friendly.
Exercise & develop a regular sleep pattern: I have written complete Blogs on these two subjects separately . However with respect to the topic being discussed, this is a critical area which helps in fighting the urge the most natural way. It helps the brain regulate the right quantity of feel good hormones which plays a critical role in how each one of us ride our emotional wave and eventually relate to it either through positive or negative actions.
Over the years whilst working with people, I have seen that unhealthy eating is not seen in the same light as substance abuse. However in my opinion it has its own crippling effects in one’s life and usually people put a finger on it only when it develops as a medical condition.You do not have to wait till you get there.
Therefore if you are someone who reaches out to food as an emotional solace, then you do know where and how to begin. I would love to hear from you, as to the role food plays in your life and how have you managed to eat healthy on my Face Book Fan Page or at mail Id firstname.lastname@example.org