Written by: Bridgett Wilder, B.S. Nutritionist; Health and Wellness Consultant; Owner: PERSEVERANCE Health and Wellness Coaching Nutrition Consultation Services LLC
For years I was stuck in a cycle of losing and gaining weight. I never had trouble losing weight, however keeping weight off was a challenge. I have given birth to 10 children and during most of my pregnancies I gained on average between 60-100 pounds each pregnancy. I was becoming a yo-yo dieter and eventually I became tired of this vicious cycle. I began journaling to determine what I was feeling to evaluate why I could not maintain weight loss. I decided I needed to fix this problem; I wanted to overcome obesity. Recently, I started my business called Perseverance health and wellness coaching in which I teach my clients how to identify eating behaviors and modify food choices. I would like to provide you with tips on how to achieve and successfully maintain weight loss. Begin by identifying why you are eating. This can be done by pausing before you pick up a desired snack. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” If the answer is no, then reflect on why you want the snack. Overtime, you may be able to tie your emotions to your eating patterns which can lead to finding other ways to cope. I started taking exercise classes and walking to reduce stress. This proved effective because exercise gave me an energy boost and feeling of accomplishment after I completed it. If you do suspect you are an emotional eater, challenge yourself to keep a journal as one way to identify your triggers or weaknesses. Also know the difference between emotional hunger and physical hunger. Emotional hunger is very persuasive and impulsive. It will send you false signals of a need to eat with sense of urgency; telling your body, “you need to eat NOW!” This can also lead to poor food choices and feelings of guilt after indulging. Some habits influencing emotional eating include eating from boredom, stress, unhappiness, depression, and loneliness to name a few. When these feelings occur, try putting off eating for about 5 minutes. During your pause ask yourself. “How am I feeling?’” Learn to accept your emotions but don’t use food to sooth them. In the beginning this may seem challenging but overtime you can take the steps to adjust by creating new ways to cope with emotions. Mindful eating strategies begins with learning your physical and mental cues. As you practice these habits you will learn you have more power over your food triggers/cravings than you realize. Physical hunger on the other hand is less dramatic. You may not be as picky on food choices because the body is seeking satisfaction in relation to fulfilling a need for food. At times when physical hunger is present, and you have not eaten, you may experience nausea, headaches, stomach growls, or hunger pains. When you eat something, you feel a sense of relief and satisfaction because you have fulfilled your bodies physical need to eat. Understanding the why behind your eating behaviors can help you achieve successful weight loss which can lead to improved overall health outcomes.
References: 1.Emotional Eating. American Academy of Pefiatrics.https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/emotional-problems/Pages.aspx. Accessed Sept.2013,2015
2.Stop the cravings! Eat right! Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/tips-for-weight-loss/stop-the-craving- eat-right. Accessed Sept 13, 2015 3. Manzoni GM.et al. Can Relaxation Training Reduce Emotional Eating in Women with Obesity? Journal of the American Dietetic Association.2009