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Archive for July 20th, 2015

Why do we eat? The answer may not be as simple as you think. We eat for many reasons. It seems logical that we eat because we are hungry, but that isn’t the only purpose.

How many items do we eat when we aren’t hungry? It may be because others are eating. Some eat because food is there in front of them. Others want to replace boredom. A few can’t bear the thoughts of wasting food. Or to some it is a social function.

Yet many indulge in emotional eating. We eat to cope with emotions that have nothing to do with hunger. Emotional eating may make us temporarily feel better. Foods higher in fat, sugar, and salt especially appeal to us when under stress. We easily get into the habit of believing if we eat a bowl of ice cream, candy bar, or whatever our comfort food, we will feel better. The results are extra calories we don’t need.

If you fall into the habit of emotional eating, what can you do? Medline Plus from the National Institute of Health recommends several helpful guides.

  • Observe yourself. When you feel an urge to eat between meals, ask yourself if you are hungry and why you have a desire to eat. Become conscious of your eating behavior when you become angry, sad, or overcome with other emotions. Observe the time of day or situations that cause you to want to emotionally eat.
  • Develop coping skills. If you decide you are an emotional eater, how can you change? Consider finding information about managing stress. Check for online articles, books, or other means. Share your feelings with a close friend who understands your situation. Take a walk or exercise to get your mind off food and rationally evaluate the cause of stress in your life. Occupy your mind with a hobby, book, or an interesting activity.
  • Value yourself. Identify and make a list of your strengthens and weaknesses. We all have them. Focus on your value as a person. What interests you most and how often do you take part in that interest? Spend more time doing what you enjoy. What are your greatest achievements (family, work, volunteerism, etc)?
  • Eat slowly. Be mindful of what you eat. Some of us eat without thinking. Do we actually know what we have eaten throughout the day? Take time to taste and savor your food before swallowing. Limit portion size of higher calorie foods. Select a specific place for eating away from television or other distractions.
  • Plan ahead. We are more likely to eat healthier when we plan meals in advance. When we wait until too close to mealtime, we are prone to settle for whatever is available. If we become too hungry, we eat whatever we find. Keep fruits, vegetables, and lower calorie foods available to offset hunger pangs. Select lower calorie ingredients for cooking such as low-fat or skim milk instead of whole.

Most of us succumb to emotional eating at times. However, following these guidelines will help us break the dependency of relying on feelings instead of sound judgment. Make your selections healthy choices, and enjoy what you eat.

 

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