Want To Lose Weight Fast? Get a Handle on Emotional Eating

The other problem with a certain person if that person posts an update on Facebook, just seeing the update stresses you out? What do you do when you get stressed out? Do you try to think about it? Do you try to resolve it rationally? Do you listen to relaxing music? Or you go straight to the fridge, whip out that chocolate cake, and dig in. Many Americans suffer from obesity because of emotional eating.

Unfortunately, many people who engage in this type of behavior are completely clueless that they are engaging in that type of behavior. They just think that they are doing what they do. They are completely unconscious about this behavioral pattern. The problem here is that emotional eating can make your weight loss goals impossible. You have to get a firm hold of it. You have to learn how to recognize it.

“Comfort Food” Is Not Just a Marketing Term

How many times have you heard the phrase “comfort food”? Probably, you’ve heard it many times over. Many restaurants like to advertise that their menu as composed of comfort food. The problem is that so many restaurants and advertising campaigns have redefined comfort food, that it is really been divorced from its original meaning.

 

The original meaning of comfort food is exactly that. It’s food that you eat because it provides you some sort of emotional comfort — comfort food. Pretty straightforward, right? The problem is comfort food is not just a marketing term; it is a serious problem. If you’re going to deal with an emotional state with a behavioral pattern that leads you to trouble, it’s the wrong behavioral pattern.

Eating comfort food is a bad idea. Why? You’re dealing with stress which everybody gets, but you’re using negative actions. You’re basically increasing the amount of calories you eat. As you probably already know, you can only lose weight if you either reduce the amount of calories you eat, or you increase the amount of calories you burn every other single day. That’s the only way you can lose weight.

When you eat comfort food, you’re basically increasing the amount of calories you eat. This can lead to obesity, and lead you to failing your weight loss goals again and again. Comfort food is real; it’s not just a marketing term.

Action Tie to Emotional Payoff

The core of comfort foods and emotional eating is simple: you have a physical payoff. In other words, you do an action because there is an emotional payoff attached to it. However, there’s a third element: an emotional trigger. Back to our Facebook example, when you see your haters posting stuff about you on Facebook, you get stressed.

To deal with this stress, you raid the fridge and you eat out. After picking out, you feel calm because of the serotonin flooding through your brain. Do you see how this works? Emotional trigger. Bad physical action. Emotional payoff. That’s how it works. It’s a chain. The key to dealing with emotional eating is to deal with every single part of the chain.

Eating Certain Foods Trigger Feelings of Well-Being

The main reason why eating that thick, rich chocolate cake makes you feel good after you have a fight with your boyfriend, or you see nasty stuff being said about you on Facebook is because of chemical reactions in your brain. Starchy and sugary foods have a chemical compound called “serotonin.”

Serotonin is linked to how your brain processes feelings of well-being. The higher your serotonin level, the better you feel. I’m not talking about drugs: serotonin doesn’t make you high. It gives you emotional high, but it doesn’t make you high like marijuana, magic mushrooms, LSD, or heroine makes you high. It’s completely different kind of high.

Regardless, when you raid the fridge and you whip out that thick and black chocolate cake and you dig in, you pump your body with serotonin, and then, there’s this emotional rush that you get. It is no surprise then you get addicted to this behavioral pattern because you’re choosing that feeling; you’re running after that feeling. You’re not really chasing after that chocolate cake, you’re chasing after the feeling of calm and great well-being that you get after you eat.

This is the key to breaking the chain. Realize that you can break this linkage. when you become conscious of the fact that you’re chasing a feeling, you can start working on breaking the habit of emotional eating. As long as you are clear that you are chasing an emotional feeling, then you can choose different physical actions that can lead to that emotional payoff.

So, the key here is not so much to destroy the whole process — that’s very hard to do. It’s been done; it’s called “cold turkey”, but it’s very hard to do. Instead, it’s probably a better idea to use a piece by piece approach. Take baby steps first. You have to first crawl before you can run, right? So, keep reading below.

Start With Eating Healthier Food

When you get an emotional trigger, you should still entertain it by going straight to the fridge. However, instead of focusing on that sweet and rich chocolate cake, focus instead on some carrot sticks, broccoli, celery sticks, or carrot sticks with a little bit of roasted sesame salad dressing. Be creative’ regardless, choose healthier food and with lower calorie levels if you’re trying to lose weight.

Losing weight is pretty straightforward and can actually be quite easy. Why? It can be reduced to two interconnected things: eat less, move more. That’s the bottom line. If you’re able to do that, you will lose weight. By changing your emotional eating patterns through the introduction of healthier foods, you can eat less calories.

Try Linking Negative Emotions with Unhealthy Eating

Unfortunately, not all of us are aspirational and motivated by things that we can gain; many of us are motivated by what we can lose. In other words, we’re motivated by fear. We are reactive. The truth is positive thinking only works for a certain number of people. It doesn’t work for everybody. For everybody else, negative thinking is the way to go, but you can use negative thinking to your advantage.

Try linking negative emotions with unhealthy eating. The moment you realize you’re raiding the fridge and digging in deep into that rich chocolate cake and stuffing your face, stop for a moment and start feeling bad. Give yourself permission to feel dirty, ashame, to feel like a pig. I’m not putting you down, insulting you, or trying to make you feel bad.

I’m trying to help you tap into this negative emotional energy, so the next time you engage in that pattern, you would think twice. Next time, since there is a distinct connection between eating high-calorie food and feeling fat and nasty, you would think twice.

Instead, you would redirect your thoughts and go and eat some broccoli. It’s messy. It doesn’t happen overnight, but definitely, it’s worth the wait. However, you can effectively deal with emotional eating. The sooner you deal with it, the better.

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  1. This article is spot-on. Emotional eating was a huge factor in my weight gain. I am a loner also when I was eating so after work I would go to the fast food place, pickup my meal, go home and eat alone. I was chasing a feeling, a bunch of feelings and I had to break that chain. Great article and really touches base with many things.

  2. Emotional eating is a big problem for my two sisters. They eat when they are sad, mad or even bored.For me, it’s boredom. I will sometimes eat a snack when working on the computer just because I’m bored and want a little distraction. What I have done is choose raw veggies and fruits that take a while to eat rather than grab a piece of cake or some chips. It’s really important to stop and think about why you are eating what you’re eating. Many times it isn’t out of hunger but something totally different.

  3. Emotional eating has been a struggle for me and I see it in many of the people I know. The best advice I took away from this article is the key to changing this behavior. The most important part to correcting this behavior is becoming aware of it when you do it. Once you start realizing why you are binge eating unhealthy food, it makes it easier to choose something healthier. This won’t be easy at first, but given time it makes a big difference.

  4. Emotional eating has been a huge problem for me. If I’m angry or stressed, I want comfort food. If it’s rainy and cold, I want carbs and to hibernate in bed. If I’m bored, I munch to have something to do with my hands. When I’m happy, I want to celebrate my happiness with more food. I try to avoid it or substitute foods with fewer calories but even food substitution still feeds the emotional eating habit, you know? It has been a large part of my weight gain and it is also the thing that keeps derailing diets that I try.

  5. Ok, I have a confession: I was indulging in a carton of chocolate oreo ice cream as I began to read this article. Before sitting down to read this I had an argument with my husband, he went off to bed and I went straight to the fridge. Needless to say, I have a huge problem with emotional eating. But the timing couldn’t be any better! Reading this article while eating ice cream right out of the carton felt as if I was caught in the act. It was a virtual slap in the face!

    Now the question is: did I stop eating the ice cream as I continued to read? Unfortunately, I did not. This article has definitely made me aware that I am “chasing a feeling” though and I admit that it’s going very difficult to “break the chain.” But I made a promise to myself (and to my son) and I will begin by taking baby steps. Thank you for this wonderful article.

  6. OMGoodness! I felt like this article was written for me. I will exercise until the cows come home. It has always been difficult for me to check my emotional eating. If I am happy and want to celebrate let’s eat! If I am sad or angry let’s eat while I vent. If I am worried let’s eat and figure out how to solve the problem. Ugh! I have made some changes by start eating healthier. I will make a bowl of peanut butter oatmeal instead of a cookie. Also I am working on eating less food. One step at a time. Thank you for the insight, encouragement and suggestions.

  7. I am more guilty for emotional eating than I would like to admit. Thank you so much for the suggestions! I suffer from PTSD, and chocolate is my “go-to” after a flashback. It is comforting to know I’m not alone!

  8. This is a very important article for all who are looking to loss weight or are trying to eat more healthy. Emotional eat is one of the key reasons many people are unable to lose the weight they want to even though they are working out regularly. Emotional eating also includes eating even when you have just ate because you feel like having something.

  9. I also have a problem with emotional eating! Like many of the commenters, I eat when I’m bored. But lately I have also eaten when I feel lonely! I snack on so many things, I don’t even eat meals. It’s terrible. This article gave some great insight into how to tackle this habit. Thanks!