As many of you know, it isn't always hunger that causes you to reach for your favorite foods. Your moods and emotions can play a big role in how you view food and in how well you are able to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Depression, loneliness, or simply being exhausted by a hectic daily schedule or too many responsibilities can set off emotional eating. Many people eat to fill a void or use food to keep themselves company. Some look to food as a distraction from a traumatic experience, such as the loss of a job, a death, or a breakup. Still others tend to overeat or go for junk food when they are happy. But most who succumb to emotional eating find that it can't be traced to one specific cause — it's simply a well-established pattern to fall back on food when needing comfort or deciding to celebrate.
The good news is that you don’t have to succumb to this behavioral trap. There are better ways to deal with emotions, and it's much healthier to face up to your feelings than to bury them under a mountain of food. Furthermore, finding a different way to respond to your emotions will give you a positive plan of action when your triggers do arise.
Here are some helpful ways to prevent your emotions from getting in the way of your weight-loss goals:
in a journal. Keeping a
food journal not only helps you keep tabs on what you’re eating but also on how
you’re feeling at the time. Knowing what your eating triggers are will help you
avoid them in the future. To break bad habits, you should record not only what
and when you ate, but also the emotional circumstances that prompted you to
overindulge and make unhealthy choices in the first place.
Instead of focusing on your emotions (and food), engross yourself in a good
book, listen to music, watch a movie, call a friend, or better yet, hit the gym
or head outdoors and get some exercise.
healthy snacks at the ready. There are probably times when your
emotional triggers kick in and you react by grabbing the nearest bag of chips,
an ice cream cone, or more than a few cookies. While we don’t recommend food as
comfort, we all do reach for it sometimes as a means of comfort, so make sure what you put in your
mouth is healthy. Stock up on nutritious, satisfying foods like almonds,
pistachios, pumpkin seeds, or soy nuts; whole fruits (Phase 2); natural peanut
butter; reduced-fat cheese sticks; whole-wheat crackers (Phase 2); or some hummus or
another bean-based dip, which you can enjoy with veggie sticks. Then make sure these
healthy snacks are handy in your cupboards, fridge, desk drawer, or backpack
for those times when emotions get the best of you (your journal will help you
keep track of what those moments are). And remember, our protein- and
fiber-rich South Beach Diet 100-Calorie Snack, Protein Fit, or Chew Nut Bars
are excellent choices on Phase 2 under any circumstances.
your emotions. Before
you grab any food in an emotional moment, take a moment to think, “Is this
going to make me feel any better?” By stepping back and having that moment of
clarity, you’ll likely make a healthier choice.