Ever notice how many diet books there are? That’s because diets don’t commonly work. Think about it. How many people do you know who have dieted and actually maintained their weight loss? Only 3 percent to 5 percent of dieters who lose weight maintain significant weight loss. And have you noticed the word “die” is in diet? Doesn’t sound too good to me, especially with what DIEting can do to, not for, your health. Dieting can make emotional eating–a common problem–even more difficult to overcome.
Dieting can lead to binge eating, overeating, chaotic eating patterns, and can teach you to ignore internal signals of hunger and lead you to be out of touch with your body’s natural hunger and satiation signals.
Do you know what kind of an eater you are? These all seem to have the eat, repeat eat, repeat rhythm. Here are seven types:
Unconscious eater who eats while doing something else
Chaotic eater who leads an over-scheduled life and who eats on an “eat-n-go- when-time-is-available” pattern
Refuse not/Waste not eater who eats whenever food is available, and often cleans her plate, regardless of actually feeling full
Emotional eaters are triggered by uncomfortable emotions rather than hunger—more about this one in a moment
Careful eaters tend to be vigilant about what foods they put into their bodies and are extremely nutrition conscious
Professional dieters who are perpetually dieting, who eat not to promote their health but to lose weight
Intuitive eaters make food choices without experiencing guilt, eat when hungry, respect their sense of fullness, and enjoy the pleasure of eating
It’s fairly easy to determine which of these eating styles you’ve learned and maintained over the course of your life. The most common and often the more challenging to overcome is #4, the emotional eater. If you show signs of these behaviors, it’s time to develop some rational responses to the thoughts that lead to these unhealthy feelings and actions:
Emotional hunger comes on suddenly. One minute you’re not even thinking about food, the next minute you’re starving. You hunger goes from 0-80 within moments. You may not have any stomach rumblings and may have eating just a short while ago.
Your cravings are for one certain type of food, such as pizza, ice cream, or chocolate. With emotional eating, you feel that you need to eat that particular food and that no substitute will do! Real hunger can be satisfied with almost any food, even with a glass of water.
It’s all “above your neck.” An emotionally based craving begins in your mouth and in your mind. Your mouth wants to taste the pizza, chocolate, or ice cream. You have strong pictures in your mind of that cupcake calling your name. It isn’t.
It’s extraordinarily urgent. Emotional hunger urges you to eat NOW! There is a demand to instantly ease emotional discomfort with food.
It’s always paired with an upsetting emotion. Your husband yelled at you. Your child is in trouble at school. Your boss won’t let up. Emotional hunger occurs in conjunction with an upsetting or distressing situation.
It’s often connected to automatic or absent-minded eating. Emotional eating can feel as if someone else’s hand is scooping up the candy and putting it into your mouth. You may not notice that you’ve just eaten a whole bag of chocolate almond kisses.
Emotional eating does not stop in response to feeling full. After you eat from your head, you feel guilty about eating. The paradox of emotional overeating is that you eat to feel better, and then end up angry or disappointed with yourself. Next, you promise to atone (“I’ll exercise, skip a meal,” etc.)
Here are five things to do if you are eating from your head, not from your empty stomach.
1. Ask Yourself
Am I biologically hungry?
What am I feeling?
What do I need?
How can I meet this need?
Research indicates that individuals who respond to a negative situation with both positive thoughts and constructive action are able to avoid emotion-based eating 85 percent of the time.
3. Breathe deeply—imbalanced, exhale twice the amount you inhaled
4. Reflect on
What do I want to achieve by eating right now?
What is there about this food?
Is this what I really need?
5. Choose the healthy behavior
When you stop dieting and the cycle of emotional eating, you can start loving, celebrating and enjoying your optimally healthy life.