Most of us can confess at one time or another to having tried to drown our emotional sorrows with a sugar-laden treat or a fat-filled snack. Here’s how to stop that emotional eating cycle.
Human beings are pretty simple. When you think about all the things that happen in our lives, most things can be broken down into two categories: pleasure or pain. This is because in all instances, there is always a balance between pain and pleasure. Emotional eating is turning to food for comfort, stress relief, or as a reward rather than to satisfy hunger. Most emotional eaters feel powerless over their food cravings. When the urge to eat hits, it’s all you can think about.
With emotional eating, the internal, emotional pain (e.g., boredom, loneliness, low self-esteem) drives the mind to look for instant pleasure as a pick-me-up. It is during these times that we eat naughty foods to give ourselves that immediate pleasure and satisfaction. However, after we do so, we can feel guilty about it and, consequently, we can enter a downward spiral by looking for more short-term pleasure.
The only way to overcome this short-term gain / long-term loss cycle, is to internally clear out the emotional pain, and focus on being kind to yourself. In the health context, this means gently encouraging yourself to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly and appropriately. After only a short period of time doing positive things for your body, you will begin to feel the internal effects, such as improved health, happiness, and satisfaction; and these internal positive feelings will drive you to continue exercise and eat right.
For some people, doing exercise and eating healthily can foster a sense of deprivation, or a feeling as if they are missing out. This occurs when we have not worked on changing our mindset and usually results in motivation that is short-lived, which sees us return to our old ways.
If a change is going to be permanent, then we have to focus on the internal pleasure that exercise and healthy eating provides. Exercise should not be considered a punishment for being overweight, or for whatever naughty food you ate; instead, consider it a joyous opportunity to express how wonderful your body is, and a celebration that you are capable of being physically active.
Eventually, you will get so much pleasure from the satisfaction of doing this, that it will overcome any old negative feelings towards exercise and healthy foods, to the point where you will probably even find that you enjoy it! Imagine that!
When you completely focus on the internal pleasure of doing the right thing by your body, and nourishing it with healthy foods, exercise, and positive thoughts, you will feel amazing. You will have loads of energy to overcome any obstacles, and you will start living with a new level of confidence and self-esteem.
So if you notice yourself looking for some external short-term pleasure, know that it is short-lived, and the only way to true long-term happiness is to focus on the inner goodness and happiness of being kind to your body and focusing on your goal.
As it is mentioned above that some people will view healthy foods and healthy lifestyle can trigger some sense of ‘missing out’. In order to avoid this, you have to have a clear motivation to why you are willing to do this, how bad do you want it, and focus on how you can achieve your goals.
Being on diet isn’t always mean that you are going to miss out a lot of things; you still can go out and eat with your friends (you might want to follow these tips), you still can eat a ‘tasty’ food every once in a while (of course without going overboard with it), and you still can attend a family gathering dinner.
It is recommended to have a one ‘cheat’ day every week to give yourself some sense of rewards after going so hard day in and day out. You can eat anything you like, but please, please please please have a sense of control and don’t go crazy on your cheat day.
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Good luck and stay motivated!