Have you ever found yourself frantically digging into a pint of ice cream after a break-up or stuffing yourself with pizza when you were completely stressed out the night before an exam? These are just some scenarios that illustrate emotional eating. Emotional eating is something that we all have experienced at one point or another. It is not unusual or unnatural, but it does become a threat to our waistline when it turns into a habit that slows down and sabotages our weight losing efforts. So, here are some tips that will help you control emotional eating, and thus, lose weight faster:
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Differentiate Real Hunger Versus Emotional Hunger
The next time that you get the urge to reach for food, stop for a second and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” Drink a glass of water before you reach for your favorite comfort food, breath deeply, and wait a few minutes. If the hunger is no longer there, it means that it was not your stomach that was asking to be fed; your emotions were the ones that were asking for food. While real hunger can be tamed with food, emotional hunger cannot. If you try to feed emotional hunger, you will end up feeling guilty at the end of the emotion-driven eating session, and you will end up in a vicious cycle where you will reach for food again, and again, and so on.
Recognize the Real Problem
Rather than reaching out for that ice cream, try to find out what the root of the problem is and deal with it. Are you stressed or worried about something? Make an effort to identify the real problem. You can keep a diary to identify your emotional eating patterns. Try to write down a description of your feelings when you get that urge for food and also take a note of what you eat afterwards. This will help you understand why and how you are abusing food.
Develop Healthier Ways of Distracting Yourself
Whenever that craving of just gorging food attacks, try to distract yourself with other healthier activities. Go out and do some window shopping, pick up a magazine, go to the gym and sweat it all out, put your favorite music on and have your own dance session at home… anything but food works! If you are worried about something, call your best friend, your sibling, or your significant other and talk it out.
Keep in mind that feeding your feelings works only as a temporary anesthetic that has the side effect of increasing your waistline. If you are on a diet and want to see faster weight loss results, start by understanding what is driving your emotional eating and deal with it before it sabotages your efforts. Use food to satisfy hunger, not as a way to deal with feelings!