You’d think that something like this would be relatively simple, but unfortunately – as with everything today – that just isn’t so. Weight control and weight loss aren’t just something that happens; they take a complete understanding of why you eat, goal setting, and effort in order to achieve any kind of long-term success.
So, if you do plan to lose weight, your first step needs to be the understanding of why you are eating the way you do.
You eat for two main reasons: physical and emotional.
The physical reasons for eating are more obvious than the emotional ones. Emotional reasons can be much less direct. There are a large variety of reasons that you may choose to eat, and it is important that each of those reasons be identified before you begin any kind of weight loss effort, including diet change, habit change, and nutritional reprogramming.
You learn from a very early age that food serves an important purpose in your lives other than basic nutrition. Consider the following common experiences
Being given a lollypop from the doctor after being “brave” through the booster shot.
Snacking through exam time to keep energy levels high for more efficient studying.
Being rewarded with a special dinner or dessert after achieving well on an exam.
After all of the positive reinforcement that food makes you feel better, it’s no wonder so many of you look to food to help fill your emotional needs when they are not being otherwise filled in your lives. Unfortunately, that lifestyle is also a fast road to weight gain.
Fortunately, it is possible to break away from that emotional connection to food. The first step is identification. Keep a journal for a minimum of one week that records everything you’ve eaten, when you ate, where you ate, and how you felt emotionally when you ate. Then, at the end of the week, look through the journal in search of patterns in emotions linked to your eating behaviors. If you need to, take a second week to record more data.
Once you have identified the pattern, try using an alternative action to deal with your emotions other than eating. For example, if you’re most likely to eat chips while you watch Sunday night television because you’re feeling antsy about work on Monday, drink water and take up an activity such as knitting, keeping a diary, folding laundry, or anything else to keep your hands busy so that you won’t eat.
You can also take the time to deal directly with the emotions that you have identified. Call a friend to vent, join a yoga class, or talk to a counselor or therapist. If you work on the emotions that are causing you to eat in the first place, the triggers won’t even be there anymore.
By recognizing your emotional habits, you’re well on the right path to controlling your eating habits, and achieving much more effective weight loss.