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Sometimes, the desire to eat is driven more by the mind than the stomach. This is called emotional eating, and it is an experience that almost every person will encounter at some point. For some, emotional eating is a daily occurrence. If frequent, this type of eating behavior can lead to overconsumption and weight gain.
As you make the effort to lose weight, start paying attention to your eating habits and hunger patterns. Cutting out the foods you eat when you are not hungry is a great first step to take as you embark on your weight loss journey.
The Mind and Stomach Connection
When someone turns to food for emotional reasons, it isn’t usually planned. Stressful events or a lost night of sleep may prompt you to head towards the drive thru window or turn to some sort of comfort food without a moment of hesitation. To stop the habit of emotional overeating you need to become more aware of how you react to stress, and what role food plays in your existing coping strategies.
There are several ways you can accomplish this:
- Keep a journal: Keep a log of the food you eat, the exercise you engage in and a general overview of what you did during the day. Keep track of phone calls, bills that are coming due and work events that might cause stress in your life. This can help you trace any connection between particular stressors and poor eating habits.
- Find healthier ways to cope with stress: Put healthier tactics into practice to cope with your stress so that you can avoid turning to food. This might mean making a habit of going for a walk after stressful meetings, or practicing deep breathing exercises.
- Think more about your hunger: Sometimes we eat without really thinking about it. Before you take a bite of anything, ask yourself how hungry you are. If you are not actually hungry, try drinking water instead of having a snack.
There are all sorts of reasons people eat that have absolutely nothing to do with hunger. Social pressure, boredom, stress and fatigue are a few of the most common reasons people turn to food.
Thanks to emotional eating, food becomes a method to ease nerves and discover feelings of comfort or pleasure. But the feelings of pleasure don’t last, causing you to return to food again and again for greater comfort; and with every bite you are consuming more calories. As time goes by and this habit continues, weight gain is inevitable. Paying closer attention to true hunger and cutting out these extra calories from your diet is a great way to promote your weight loss efforts.