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Recognizing Emotional Eating

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In recent years more emphasis has been put the emotional side of eating. It is now a widely accepted concept that weight loss will not and can not be permanent if you fail to recognize and deal with the emotional issues that have caused you to over eat in the first place.

Many individuals get stuck on this point as they can not pin point some deep dark event in their lives that would cause them to over eat. We have all heard of individuals who have been raped or abused as children who then understandably have issues with over eating as adults. Luckily however is not the case for most of us, emotional over eating does not just occur for those individuals who have experienced a horrible or traumatic event. Some individuals do indeed realize after some thought that they do consciously or unconsciously hide behind a layer of fat to help keep themselves protected. If this is representative of you or your situation then it is easy to see why in order to achieve permanent weight loss you must deal with the emotions surrounding the case or reason.

If on the other hand you can not pin point a particular reason why; then it is important to realize that there are many negative feelings that trigger emotional eating. For instance many individuals medicate themselves with food in response to emotions and feelings including anger, guilt, loneliness, stress and even boredom. All of these reasons point to emotional eating as you are ultimately trying to fill some sort of void with food. Medicating with food is often a dangerous cycle as it is a short fix. You may feel great for the few minutes that it takes you to inhale a tub of chocolate ice cream or box of doughnuts but shortly after the guilt sets in for the actual eating. Now we have two reasons for feeling crappy about ourselves and thus the cycle continues.

You have to be honest with yourself because as we all know you can not fix what you do not acknowledge. The first step in any recovery is acceptance and acknowledgement. You must be able to recognize what you need to change in order to make a plan and ultimately make changes necessary for success.

One of the best ways to help you recognize your triggers is to keep a food journal. It is important to list not only what you are eating but also the circumstances leading up to the eating and how you are feeling at the time. Keeping this sort of food journal will allow you to not only see what you are eating and how much but more importantly the why. Documenting in this way will help you to sort out what your triggers are so that you can begin to take control over your reactions.

Keeping a food journal will allow you to step back and look at the patterns in your eating from a subjective standpoint. It will allow you to determine if you are consciously or subconsciously reacting to stressful situations, negative encounters, lonely nights, or purely out of boredom. We must also realize that we are not reacting to the “external” world around us but instead our own interpretations of that world. By the same token we are choosing to put the food into our mouths nobody or nothing else is forcing us to do it. We must hold ourselves responsible and break this destructive pattern.

The bottom line is you must choose and recognize that you are worthy of having a healthy happy life and that includes a healthy happy body. Know that you good enough and you desire the best. Once you identify your triggers you will be able to consciously decide to replace the destructive behavior of emotional eating with a healthy alternative. If there is an issue at hand that you can not handle on your own then get help from a professional; there is no shame in reaching out for help. Once you take ownership of your choices and actions you will be ready to make a lifestyle change that will lead to a permanent results.