Ever have a long day at work and get in a fight with your mom that makes you want to run home and find comfort? Do you have a list of “comfort” foods on stow-away just for such an occasion? Warm chocolate-chip cookies, macaroni and cheese or a big bag of Ruffles? Although your emotions are sending you straight to the kitchen, there are triggers that are setting you up for overeating. Here are some of those triggers, and some tips to help you eat with intention, instead of sending you into an emotional binge:
1. You skip breakfast
Your body has “fasted” for ~8 hours while you were sleeping. When you skip breakfast, your blood sugar continues to fall as you perform day-to-day activities. When it dips too low, your brain sends signals to the rest of your body to find and eat food immediately with no care to how much or what.
Eat breakfast! Take time to eat some whole grains and protein to give you energy to get through your day.
2. You are eating too few calories
You may think you are being “good” by eating less food. Calories consumed need to be less than calories burned to lose weight, right? This is true. Except, if you don’t get enough for daily activity, your body thinks it’s starving. So, when you do finally eat, it may be hard to stop.
Be smart with quantity and quality of food, but don’t refuse food if you are hungry. By fighting that urge, you may find yourself unable to control it later and ultimately overeat.
3. You avoid some foods completely
By placing foods on an “avoid” list, you will feel deprived. When you hit emotional stress, you will let down your guard and indulge or OVER-indulge on these no-no foods.
Schedule smart indulgences into your eating plan. Allow yourself a small slice of your favorite dessert every so often so you can tame that desire. Moderation is key.
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4. You expect perfection
You know how you want to eat, but every time you have a bite of an “off-limit” food or you eat more than you want, you beat yourself up. This emotion causes you to look for comfort and turn to food.
Give yourself a break! One bite of chocolate cake or a couple of French fries does not ruin your success. The path to healthy living is not a straight line, but a wavy journey with a specific direction. You will realize if you eat smart with a few small detours, you will have less uncontrollable eating and will start to maintain or even lose weight.
5. You don’t face your emotions head on
Emotions not dealt with are often the principal culprit behind overeating. You try to cover them up or sweep them under the rug by eating your “comfort” food.
Recognize and face your emotions. Allow yourself to feel angry, sad, or lonely. Then, try to find the root of these feelings and work through them instead of covering them up and potentially creating another problem.
Research assistance provided by Ashley Ingram