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Why Am I Eating This?

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Why Am I Eating This?

The plight of emotional eating.
Chris Sparkguy Downie
Chris Sparkguy Downie More by this author
Mar 31, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Suppose you’re eating plenty of veggies, your sleep is consistent, and you exercise so often than you’re wearing out your gym shoes. It’s hard to believe that something could still get in the way of your health and fitness goals.

Something can, and often does: emotional eating.

Sometimes we eat for the strangest reasons. A bad day at work may culminate with a bag of barbecue chips on the couch. An argument may drive you to the fridge to calm down with ice cream. Emotional eating is possibly the number-one enemy of continued healthy living.

You can—and should—eliminate emotional eating triggers so they no longer have a chance to sabotage your lifestyle and weight-loss success. While it’s not always possible to pinpoint the exact root of these problems, you can take concrete steps to drive them out from the shadows.

  1. Recognize the problem. You may be an emotional eater and not even realize it. Ask yourself a few questions: Do I often graze for no real reason, even though I’m not hungry? Have I found myself in front of an open fridge and not known why? Do I react to stress by opening my mouth and sticking a donut in it? Do I seem to gain weight when I’m going through hectic periods in my life?
  2. Investigate and identify trigger times. Be aware of danger times and situations. Are weekends and holidays an emotional time for you? A visit with the in-laws? Talking with an ex? Do these times overlap with unhealthy eating episodes? The best way to figure this out is to carefully track your reasons for eating and anticipate problem triggers.
  3. Ask why these triggers have power. The root of emotional eating often lies in large-scale issues. Are you going through a stressful period at work, at home, or in your marriage? Have you had a recent failure that is crushing your self-esteem? Are you unhappy with your day-to-day life? Have you gone through a traumatic experience, such as a death, divorce, bankruptcy, or layoff? List everything in life that causes you stress. Learn not to worry about issues that are out of your control.
  4. Take it one trigger at a time. Write in your journal about how any of these larger life issues may be affecting your food choices and motivation. First, figure out how to recognize when the issue is about to trigger emotional eating and how to neutralize it. Then think about what steps you can take to keep the issue from taking hold of you. Focus on one issue at a time, and be patient and generous with yourself.

These steps can even help you start to solve some of the underlying major issues. Try hard to view the issues as challenges instead of stressors. Now that you are more confident about meeting challenges, you will be able to tackle these issues, too!

About Author
Chris Sparkguy Downie
Chris Downie is the founding force behind SparkPeople. He used proven health, goal-setting and motivation techniques to co-found an early Internet company, which became eBay's first acquisition. With the freedom and the capital to help other people r Continue reading