Do you often turn to food when you’re sad, lonely, bored, happy, stressed, or excited? Do you set a New Year’s resolution, year after year, to “go on a diet” and lose weight? Do you find yourself struggling to stick to the diet and feeling like a failure before you even reach the end of January? Well, maybe it’s time to step off the dieting roller-coaster and consider a new approach! Now is the time for you to resolve to STOP DIETING and accept the fact that diets do NOT work!
Highly restrictive diets or fad diets tend to lead to feelings of deprivation and trigger binge eating. Overeating is often followed by feelings of failure, frustration, guilt, and shame. Overeaters also frequently berate themselves for continuing to struggle with food and weight.
For emotional overeaters, the problem is not with willpower, discipline, or self-control. For various reasons, emotional eaters have learned to use food to swallow or numb their feelings. Food may have become an emotional anesthetic that helps things to feel better. Using food may have been an attempt to take care of oneself. Thus, the problem is really a lack of effective coping tools to manage one’s feelings and needs.
When you stop using food to fill emotional hunger, then you may have to take a look at what is really going on in your life. It is not about what you are eating, but why you are eating. The following tips offer some strategies for breaking the emotional eating cycle:
- Keep a record of what you are eating and why you might be eating at that time. Ask yourself, “am I physically hungry?, what am I feeling?, what am I thinking?” Learn to recognize some of your emotional triggers (i.e., stress, fatigue, anger, frustration)
- Listen to your body. Try healthier strategies for responding to “emotional hunger.” For example, try activities that keep your hands occupied and “out of the cookie jar.” Try using play doh, painting, knitting, popping bubble wrap, puzzles, calling a friend to talk, etc.
- Slow down and pay attention to what you are actually eating. Set yourself a place at the table and allow yourself to focus on how the food looks, tastes, and smells. Avoid distracting yourself by TV, eating in the car, or eating right out of the fridge!
- Try creating a balanced plate at the start of a meal, with half of your plate saved for colorful foods - your fruits and/or vegetables, 1/4 of your plate your protein serving, and 1/4 of your plate your grain serving. Try to rotate your eating by taking a bite from each section, followed by a drink of water, to complete your meal. Helps to continue "firing up" your taste buds, encourages you to eat slowly, and helps increase satiety.
- Remind yourself that even small changes in eating and activity habits can have a significant effect on your health.
Maybe this year you can resolve not to diet, but to change your life!
For more help on learning how to lose weight without dieting, please check out www.beating-overeating.com. For information on upcoming workshops and wellness programs, check out www.oceanwaves.wellness.com. Please feel free to contact Dr. Kerri at (732) 845-1111 with any questions.