It was a another great night here at Digestive Disease Center, our monthly weight loss class was in full swing and we had a great turnout! Emotional eating was the topic of discussion, post holidays can be a hard time when we have a tendency to beat ourselves up for gaining that extra 5 pounds or for staying stagnant in our weight loss goals.I was not shocked when discussing this topic, that many people were in agreement that they are letting their emotions lead their hunger.
Emotional eating can lead you to mindless eating in seconds, and to the consumption of many calories preventing us from achieving our weight loss dreams. Yet, if we know that emotional eating can lead to mindless eating,than how do we stop or prevent this? I always am a proponent of giving people tools to meet their goals, whatever they may be. In order to do this we need to look at the difference of emotional hunger compared to physical hunger and what happens in our body when our emotions take over.
Physical hunger is satisfiable, we are able to have a salad and make that healthy choice when hunger is physical and stop when we are full. Emotional hunger is unsatisfiable, this kind of hunger will make us eat past the point of fullness. When we eat emotionally we usually are not making the healthy option, leading to calorie laden “pack on the pounds” type food.
Why, are we lured to these foods at times? What makes emotional eating so strong and unsatisfiable? When we are stressed and emotions run high for long periods of time the body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released in the body during two situations low blood sugar and stress. When this hormone is released it not only increases your appetite but can make you crave certain types of food salty, sweet and high fat foods. So, how do we overcome what our body is telling us to do?
We need to acknowledge what our emotions are. If we are sad, fatigued, or stressed we need to recognize those feelings and be aware that these are the times that are difficult to make the right choices. We than need tools and strategies to get us past these tough times,
It is not easy if you are sad, fatigued or stressed to make the healthy choice. Not only is your body working against you but most of the time these types of food are highly accessible. We need to be aware of the times that are difficult, some of these times we know ahead, some we do not.
If we know during the week we are going to have long days at work leading us to fatigue and possibly more stress at the end of the day pre planning meals can help. Also instead of coming home and unwinding with that pint of ice cream, unwind with a nice hot bath, a cup a tea or if you want spend time exercising.
Some people eat out of boredom when we are watching the TV, or eat late at night when all others are in bed. We can make better choices, instead of eating,go on your treadmill or bike during your show. On commercial breaks run in place or do jumping jacks. Instead of eating late at night read a book, have cup a tea or go to bed. Sleep is a big trigger that leads to emotional eating little sleep can lead to fatigue and fatigue can lead us to bad choices.
In the end acknowledgement and acceptance is key. We need to acknowledge our problems, accept them and then come up with tools and strategies to prevent them.