Tuesday, July 17, 2007
If you've ever gobbled up a candy bar before a big meeting with the boss, or spooned your way through a pint of ice cream after a breakup, then you're familiar with emotional eating. Letting your feelings (instead of hunger) dictate when, what and how much you eat can be very dangerous, especially if you're trying to lose weight.
Try these tricks to put an end to emotional eating:
* Keep a mood log. You may have heard that keeping a food journal can help you track your fat and calorie intake, but you can also use it to record your emotions. "For many people, this is very helpful in identifying which emotions lead them to overeat," says Adrian Brown, Ph.D., a psychotherapist in private practice in Washington, D.C. Once you've figured out your trigger, you can come up with better ways to deal with it. For example, if you tend to overdo it when you're lonely, make a walking date with friends or call a family member. Then, you won't have to turn to food as a way to fill your time.
* Chat yourself up. The next time your stress levels soar and you find yourself en route to the vending machine, try to reason with yourself. Say, "If I eat that bag of chips, I'm going to feel good for a few minutes, but then I'll feel guilty, disappointed and frustrated. It may be hard to deny this craving, but when the feeling passes I'll feel confident and happy." It gets easier to say no to tempting foods once you get used to the feel of success.
* Reframe the situation. "Many dieters mistakenly view food and weight loss as a black-and-white issue," Brown says. For example, say you give into a craving for ice cream, chocolate or whatever food is your weakness. You might reason, "Oh, well, I blew it. Now I might as well eat whatever I want." But that kind of thinking makes no sense. So what, you had a little slip? There's no need to make it any worse. You're not perfect, and you don't have to be to slim down.
* Take your goals to go. Jot down the reasons you want to lose weight on a piece of paper and carry it your purse or wallet. Whether you want to be around to see your grandkids, look nice at your son's wedding or to keep up with your toddler, this list can be a powerful motivator whenever you're facing down a craving.
Don't let emotional eating derail your weight-loss efforts.