Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Emotional Eating

As of today I have lost 72 pounds in the last 6 and a half months. But in the last 4 weeks I have only lost 2 pounds. What has caused this slow down in my weight loss? While reading comments in the weight loss group I belong to on facebook, it hit me...I am an emotional eater. If you are overweight or not comfortable with your size or if how you look when you get up in the morning  affects your mood for the day you are most likely an emotional eater too.
We all know how to lose weight, its really simple, eat better and exercise. We all have the knowledge so what is it thats holding us all back from reaching our weight loss and health goals? Its our emotions. If we want to succeed we need to examine the issues holding us back and get out of the emotional eating pattern for good.When people gain and lose weight over and over again, there is more than just bad food choices underlying the issues. Our relationship with food is one of the most intimate and potentially addictive relationships we create from an early age. If we use food to soothe, numb, celebrate or for any other emotional purposes we run the risk that food will always be at the core of these emotions.
So if you are about to embark on a weight loss journey, in the middle of one and plateauing or you have been on the weight loss roller coaster for sometime, maybe its time to take a time out and examine your emotional state, do some soul searching or maybe even seek professional help.We all have issues, obviously some more than other, but it is really about how we deal with those issues that will determine our success. Some of us are dealing with tramatic pasts, low self esteem and stress. And all of these can effect how we became overweight and why we cant lose the weight for good.Without taking care of the emotional baggage that may be at the core of our food issues, we all run the risk of being a "lifer" in the weight loss world. Rather than counting calories , it is far wiser to dive down to a deeper level of awareness about our eating habits and to bring it to a level of consciousness, deal with it in a healthy way  and by doing so we can be in charge of our eating habits instead of them controlling us.When I started my weight loss journey I was on a high, the weight was coming off and I was getting tons of compliments, life was great! Recently I started plateauing. I am finding I am less motivated to get out of bed and workout, finding myself returning to old eating habits and making excuses for why I am lacking motivation. By why is this happening? Why now? First there has been some stress in my life, selling and buying a house is stressful and time consuming and I have found that when I am stressed I eat and over snack. I am also someone who takes things and runs with them until the next thing comes along, they take over my thoughts, for the last 6 months losing weight has been my life and now that we are in the middle of buying a house its consumes my thoughts and weight loss has taken a back seat. Second I have started concentrating on how much I still have to lose, instead of how far I have come and I have let self doubt enter my mind. Recently I had to do an honest examination of how I became fat in the first place. I believe it started in childhood with a lack of healthy eating habits and physical activity, to a lack of self confidence(sometimes it seems like I am full of self worth but inside I am still a little shy girl, without a lot of friends) to pretending that my weight was not a big deal, that you could be overweight and still be healthy, but that was just me not dealing with reality. So now that I have laid it all out there and been honest with myself its time for me to deal with these things and move forward. I dont  want my emotions to prevent me from succeeding. I want the same for you. I want you to succeed and live your best life. I know life isnt all flowers and roses and stress and bad situations will come along, its all how we deal with it that counts and using food isnt a coping mechanism that works well. Once you have been honest with yourself and start to deal with your issues, its time to deal with the pattern of emotional eating and start eating with awareness.

Breaking the Pattern
In order to become an individual who eats with awareness, you must stop when you sense the urge to eat, take a breath and focus on your awareness back to how you are feeling. Is it hunger or is it stress?

Try some of these steps to start practicing awareness eating:
1.Take sips of water with each bite.
2.Do not take the entire container or bag of food. Dish out the amount or serving size you would like in a small dish or bowl.
3.Use a fork, knife and spoon to slow you down, take deep breaths between bites and chew your food slowly.
4. Do not keep your favorite treats in the house such as cookies, chips or ice cream. If its readily available, you are more likely to fall off the wagon during those times of emotional stress.
5.Try to make your meals last at least 20 minutes. It takes that long for your stretch receptors in your stomach to tell your brain "Hey I am full!"
6.Buy some gum and have it available to grab and gobble when the urge hits.
7.Do not skip meals, it can leave to overeating.
8.Allow yourself to get hungry, and feel your stomach grumble, its important to identify real hunger pains versus eating merely for the sake of boredom or according to the clock.

When you are emotional and want to eat try these instead:
1 Talk to a friend or trusted family member about the issues you are having with food, there are also wonderful psychologists and counselors who specialize in emotional eating and they can be of great value.
2. Go for a walk, in my experience fresh air and some time alone can do wonders
3. Journal-writing can help you express your emotions
4. Turn on your favorite music and get lost in it.
5. Try to avoid stressful situations(not easy bit take steps to reduce it as much as possible)

Keep in mind, winning the weight loss battle involves both a psychological and physical component. Once you take control of the underlying issues you will feel and enormous burden lifted that allows you to enjoy food and nutrition , without emotional results.Now that I have examined why I overeat I hope I can deal with these issues and move forward.I hope I can become more aware of my triggers and find more positive ways of coping with them, like avoiding them or distracting myself. Losing weight is not easy, its a physical and emotional journey but its a journey worth taking.We all deserve to be happy and healthy and we all deserve that. We all have the knowledge and know how, its really about examining why and how we got to this pint in our life and making changes to better our lives.Its about being aware of our habits  and consciously being aware of our emotional triggers and finding a better way of coping with them instead of heading the fridge or local fast food restaurant. 

We can all do this and we can all live a healthier life!



  1. So proud of how far you've come, Heather! This is a great post, and I will be sharing it with some friends who are also trying to lose weight.

  2. I think it's wonderful what you are doing, but did you know it's not good to eat and drink at the same time. Look into it. You can't flush the fats properly out of your system. I wish you much luck!