Saturday, 19 May 2012

Triggers to Overeating - Part 2

Taking Control

The emotional and psychological links with food are an important aspect of weight control and a big part of recognising these mechanisms and applying skills and strategies to address the difference between the need to eat and the desire to eat.

Research shows that the three main causes of people eating when they are not hungry are; habit, boredom and stress.  Fill out a food and drink diary and answer questions such as what you ate and drank, where you ate and drank, why you ate and drank and score yourself with a hunger level (0 – not hungry, 3 – starving).  Hopefully this will allow certain feeding patterns to emerge enabling you to come up with strategies to combat eating when not hungry.  If there are certain habits that have formed over a long period of time, then the aim is to replace bad habits with good habits.  Boredom and stress related eating require a great deal of determination and different strategies but as long as you recognise why there is a deviation from the plan, then it is possible to work out a counter measure to get back on track.

In tune with hunger

People don’t necessarily know how to differentiate between true hunger and emotional hunger i.e. unconscious prompting of trigger foods, trigger situations and trigger feelings.  Emotional hunger is the hunger you shouldn’t give in to.  You can feel emotional hunger without responding to it.  True hunger only really occurs when you have not eaten for hours or have not had enough calories to satisfy your physiological needs.  Be aware of desires, temptations and even compulsions.

How often do you emotionally eat?  Try the below exercise which will help you to identify the situations where you tend to eat when you are not hungry.  So before you’re about to empty the fridge or cupboards for an unplanned snack or meal ask yourself the following truthfully:

·       On a scale of 1(over full) to 10 (starving) how hungry (real hunger) am I?

·       If you are eating something unplanned ask yourself why am I eating when I am not hungry?  This identifies the mood or emotion triggering you to eat.

·       What am I going to do instead of eating?  This gives you possible alternatives that you can do to help resolve those triggers instead of eating.

So if you feel sad or lonely, call a friend.  If you feel anxious, go for a walk, listen to some calming music (or your favourite music) or take a bath.  This will help you learn some positive ways of expressing and nurturing your emotional need without food.

·       When you think you are hungry, give yourself a moment to check that what you are feeling is truly hunger before the impulse to eat takes over.

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