American waistlines continue to expand at an ever alarming rate, increasing the incidence of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, dementia and cancer. Successful weight loss consists of three critical components: reduced calories from a well balanced diet, regular physical activity and controlling stress and emotional eating.
Emotional Eating Can Derail Weight Loss Efforts
Despite your best efforts to control eating and exercise daily, stressful situations arise which can throw you off track, making it difficult to lose weight. Sometimes stress comes from an emotional situation, the loss of a job or adverse financial situation. Other times, hitting a weight plateau can be enough to disrupt your best efforts and cause binge eating or other disruptive negative behavior.
Information provided by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research explains the connection between mood, food and weight, along with proven methods to ensure you don't develop an emotional eating pattern regardless of stressful situations which may surround you. While some people eat less under stress, most will opt for high calorie 'comfort foods' to get them through a difficult emotional stretch. Try these tips if you find yourself in an emotional eating pattern.
Tip 1: Slow Down and Relax
When stress is the cause of your emotional eating and failed weight goal, reduce the negative effects by using popular stress reduction techniques. Yoga and meditation are very effective methods to lower your stress level. Better yet, determine the cause of your stress and resolve the situation to jump start your weight loss efforts.
Tip 2: Listen to Your Hunger
Many times we eat just because we're bored, and not due to true hunger. It's important to learn when you really need food, and when you're eating just to pass time or because you're feeling stress. If you find yourself in front of the refrigerator, drink an 8 ounce glass of water first, and wait 15 minutes. More often than not you'll find the sensation to eat will disappear, and you can save yourself that high calorie snack.
Tip 3: Keep a Food Mood Diary
For a two week period, write down everything you eat, along with how you felt at the time. Did you feel stressed, depressed or especially emotional when you ate, or were you actually hungry? Over time you'll find that you're eating up to half of your daily calories during times when you feel stressed or emotional. Food eaten under stress is typically high calorie, non-nutritional junk food which halts your weight loss progress.
Tip 4: Treat Yourself Occasionally
It's important not to deprive yourself of an occasional treat, as this can lead to cravings and binge eating which will pack on the pounds. Allow yourself a special treat once per week and savor the moment. This will help you avoid cravings and keep your weight loss progress in check.
Natural weight loss is a complicated process which must be accomplished by combining several steps to deliver your ultimate weight loss reward. A well balanced diet and regular exercise are critical tools in your weight reduction arsenal, along with appropriate stress reduction techniques to control emotional eating. Following these tips will help you to control the negative effects which stress places on your lifestyle and diet, allowing you to reach your weight loss goal.