Some daily stress but no major on-going stressors
Whether intentional or unplanned, skipping meals is a bad idea. Skipping meals to save calories just doesn’t work. You’re hunger level will be out of control when you finally do eat and you’re likely to eat tempting foods instead of lean and green foods.
Foods made with enriched, white flour (also known as high glycemic/ high GI foods) will skyrocket your blood sugar in no time at all. The quick burst of energy will soon disappear and you’re cravings for more “white foods” will intensify. Trade in your white-flour based foods for whole-wheat and high-fiber foods.
Chronic stress can trigger your appetite into overdrive. Ghrelin, a hormone which plays a major role in hunger, is elevated when stress is high. When we’re stressed we often want to eat something crunchy like chips. Try carrots or celery sticks with hummus instead!
Have you ever noticed that when you don’t get a good night’s sleep the next day your hunger is out of control? Again, hormones are at play. When you’re physically low on energy, hunger is stimulated because calories are energy and your body wants to create some energy ASAP.
You’d be surprised at how many food products in your supermarket are loaded with added sugar. Fortunately, in the U.S., the new food labels coming out in 2018 will specifically show how much added sugar is in each food item. Read labels and compare brands. Get the one with the lowest sugar grams.
Whether you’re picking food that your kid didn’t eat from her plate, perusing the donuts someone brought into the office, or taking every free sample you’re offered while grocery shopping, you just can’t say no to food. You don’t even realize how much all those little bites add up to over the course of the day. Journaling and just making a point to pay attention to your thoughts when food is available will help you distinguish between true hunger or if you are just triggered by your habits.
It takes 20 minutes for the brain to register fullness. If you are eating too fast it can be very easy to miss this signal and overeat. Slow down and try to only eat at meal times (no multi-tasking allowed)!
Distracted eating and eating fast tend to go hand in hand. When you eat while doing other things you miss out on fully enjoying your food with all five senses. It’s also way easier to overeat because you’re not paying attention to portion sizes or hunger. It may be unrealistic for you to eat every meal distraction-free but starting with one a day can go a long way.
We all know that restaurant portion sizes can be astronomical but so too can many of the packaged foods you buy at the supermarket. Does anyone really eat half a cup of ice cream or drink half a bottle of juice (a 20 oz. bottle that is)? Fortunately, the new food labels here in the U.S. are going to correct some of these portion sizes. It’s still up to us, as consumers, to figure out how many portions we are really eating and how likely we are to overconsume without even knowing it.
Most social situations revolve around food. Celebrations, work events, school events, parties and holiday gatherings bring us all together to eat and drink way more than we may have intended. It’s best to plan ahead what you will have so you’re not tempted to overdo it.
Remember back in the 90’s when there were a ton of fat-free and low-fat cookies, chips, ice creams and other snack foods? Just because something is fat-free does not mean it’s calorie-free. The same applies whether it’s calories, points, carbs, or sugar. Condiments, extra croutons, a handful of crackers, a couple pieces of candy…it all adds up at the end of the day!
If you’ve ever gone to the mall to buy a shirt and walk past the food court and suddenly find yourself with a salted pretzel, that’s unplanned eating. Food is everywhere so you can find yourself in tempting situations throughout the day. The more you can pack your own lunch and prepare your meals ahead of time the less likely you’ll be to go for what’s convenient.
Talking to a friend will also alleviate some of the overwhelm and put you in a much better frame of mind.
Emotional eaters sometimes eat because they do not have a sense of control over some part or (parts) of their lives. Feeling powerless over your circumstances is painful and eating is one way to dull the pain, temporarily. The real issue with this behavior is that our locus of control is off. We attribute control in our lives internally (I have control) or externally (others control my life). When you strengthen your internal locus on control you can take charge of your life, feel self-motivated and self-assured. While you may not always be able to control your circumstances, you can always control your reactions.
Did you know that we make nearly 35,000 decisions each day? Of those decisions, about 226 are related to food! Making decisions all day long at work can really wear us down at night. When it comes time to decide what to eat for dinner the quality of your choices can deterioate. Take the need for decision-making out of the equation and plan your meals ahead of time as much as possible.
Growing up, many of us were told we had to finish our dinner if we wanted dessert. Did you fall off your bike and get a cookie as a reward? Studies show that children who are rewarded with food are more likely to become emotional eaters later in life. We can reverse this pattern by using non-food rewards to drive desired behaviors.
We sometimes avoid difficult situations with a variety of behaviors – procrastination, distractions, complaining, blaming, and hiding. Emotional eaters who are “avoiders” often use food to numb out the bad feelings and pretend those difficult situations don’t exist. Again, it’s a temporary “band-aid” to a problem and will result in extra weight and poor health if it becomes a habit. When we avoid, we tend to project the situation is a million times worse than it actually is. Better to deal with it and get relief from it being over than to hang on to the suffering.
Food is not a replacement for self-care. You need to take time for yourself to feel centered, grounded, and reduce stress. Using food to cope with lack of self-care takes us further away from awareness of what we really need. Make sure to take some time each day, even just a few minutes if that is all you have, to breathe, stretch, journal, or anything else that feels good for a few moments.
It’s so strange to think you might be afraid of success, isn’t it? When things start going well and you suddenly find yourself messing it all up, welcome to self-sabotage. If you’ve ever tried to lose weight and keep getting stuck at the same weight, or keep regaining and losing the same weight over and over again, fear of success may be at play. What if you really do achieve your goal? Will their be more pressure? Will my overweight friends still accept me? Overcoming the fear of success is complex, and requires us to stand in our truth and be willing to be exposed, take the lead in our lives, and be comfortable with the discomfort.