Stoping Emotional Eating

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • Hopefully you've taken some time to work on the first assignment from this 4 part series.  The idea is to take an in-depth look at just how often you start a new diet, why your weight goes up and down moderately or drastically, how you interact with food and why losing weight permanently is so difficult and unattainable.


    So let's take a look at what food means to you, before I assign the next task.  It's important to understand that we typically learn a lot of our behaviors during childhood, and parents are the most definitive role models for most behavior patterns.  Scenario #1 - if your mom or dad typically turned to food for comfort when they were lonely or sad or stressed or bored, then you probably absorbed this behavior and you were also, more than likely, taught to handle your emotions in a similar way.  You learned an early life lesson that food is a great temporary emotional bandage.  Scenario #2- If your mom or dad struggled with their weight and turned to the latest processed foods (especially dessert treats) or fast food or soda and ice cream regularly, then chances are your palate was introduced to those very same foods at a young age.  Fruit and vegetables have a tough time measuring up to those artificially flavored, delectable treats.

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    So your habit of turning to food as a coping technique and using the taste of creamy, sugary and salty foods as your "taste standard" was probably established in your early years.  The saying, "old habits die hard," has particular significance when it comes to the lure of food.  But you can abandon habits and slowly begin to embrace healthier ones.  Most experts suggest that you pace those changes, rather than try an all or nothing approach.  Deprivation is a surefire way to end up with another diet failure.  You may, however, have to create a less tempting environment and avoid trusting your willpower.  There is no point in bringing home a large container of ice cream, even if your intent is to make it last for a week or two - choose small single portion serving sizes and only bring in one serving at a time.


    Assignment #2- Just like in the first assignment, turn your paper to landscape position.  Draw a line from one end to the other.  Draw a small line down from both endpoints.  On the right side write down the first time you remember turning to food for an emotional or special celebratory event.  Continue to draw lines downward off the main line and chart every occasion you use(d) food for an emotion (positive or negative).  So your first memory might be a birthday - yours or someone's in the family.  Maybe the next time it was mom giving you a treat because you had a bad day at school.  Use as many sheets in landscape position to continue the line and mark these occasions- maybe a sheet for every decade with yearly milestone points to help you organize the task.  There should be a lot of birthdays, holidays, memories of possible food binges associated with a disappointment like bad grades, breakups with boyfriends or girlfriends, fights with friends, deaths of loved ones, moves, lost jobs or opportunities, etc.


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    Next up - Why doesn't the state of my health scare me into permanent weight loss?

Published On: October 27, 2009