The Mood-Food Connection

Don’t let your emotions dictate when you’re hungry.

You’re sad, so you eat chocolate. You’re happy, so you pig out on cake. You’re bored, so you munch on chips. You’re stressed, so you drink a few beers.

Sound familiar? Whether you realize it or not, you may be looking to food for comfort or distraction—especially food that’s sweet, high in calories, or full of carbs. And very likely, this type of emotional eating could be at the root of your weight gain.

While you may not be able to control the circumstances that trigger your emotional eating (the death of a loved one, relationship conflicts, or stress at work), the good news is that there are steps you can take to control your reaction to those triggers. Here are a few practical ways to stop emotional eating and stay on track with your weight loss goals.

Gluttony is an emotional escape, a sign something is eating us. – Peter De Vries

Ask Yourself Two Questions

Every time you head to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat, ask yourself if you’re really hungry. Do you feel hunger pains in your stomach or are you just bored or depressed? Rather than seeking to feed a physical hunger, you may be seeking to feed an emotional hunger. Quite possibly you’re using food to satisfy a deeper hunger in your heart. Food may provide satisfaction, but it’s only temporary. When you’re tempted to snack, walk away from the refrigerator, wait five minutes, and see if your cravings fade away.

That question out of the way, ask yourself why you want to eat. Learn to identify the emotions that could be triggering your cravings. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s going on in your mind. In such cases, a professional counselor can help uncover hidden emotional baggage that may be causing your overeating.

Track What You Eat

One tool that aids in weight loss is a food diary. Keeping track of what and when you eat not only keeps you accountable to your calorie goals by making you think twice about taking a second helping of casserole, but it’s also a great way to track how your emotions trigger your eating habits.

As you write down what you eat, record the emotions you’re feeling at the time. Over the course of days or weeks you may see patterns form that connect your mood with food. Knowing your triggers is the first step in guarding against emotional eating.

Tame Your Triggers

Once you’ve identified the emotions that lead to overeating, you can learn to turn to healthy alternatives for comfort besides food. Stressed out? Go for a run to burn off steam, take a hot bath to relax, or spend time in a quiet place to meditate. Bored?

Read a book, pick up a hobby, play with your kids, or organize the closet. Depressed? Call a close friend, do something kind for someone in need, or go on a walk.

Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Someone who’s well rested, in good physical shape, and has a strong support system is better able to deal with emotions in a healthy way. It’s easy to give in to emotional eating when you’re tired, in a cycle of weight gain and loss, and have no one to keep you accountable.

Make it your goal to get enough sleep each night, take time to relax, get at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day, and foster relationships with family and friends. These four parts of a healthy lifestyle can help protect you from the dangers of emotional eating.

Weight-Management University is HERE! Learn more about the Self Guided Educational Course that will teach you what you need to know to make exercise and nutrition a part of your healthy lifestyle for a permanent weight management solution.

If you live in the Gilbert area, treat yourself  right by calling or emailing today to get started on an exercise program that will change your  life for the best.

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