Published On: Sun, May 26th, 2013

Emotional Eating and Weight Loss

Emotional Eating and Weight Loss

By: VicCC BY 2.0

Most experts in the fields of wellness, nutrition and weight loss agree that gaining excess weight actually begins with the mindset.    After all, the subconscious mind is what truly drives repetitive, instinctive behavior.   The daily routine of eating is such a behavior.

During the course of living, our infinite experiences work to shape how we think and reason.   How one adapts to his environment depends on his unique experiences and prevailing thought patterns.  For example, when a person is faced with fear, stress and anxiety it is common to turn to “comfort food.”   Comfort food differs from person to person.   It is the food that was frequently eaten during happy times in one’s life; usually during childhood.   Examples of possible comfort food includes a can of Spaghetti-Os, grape jelly donuts, meatloaf, frosted corn flakes, a particular ethnic dish, and so on.  Basically, the subconscious mind is attempting to resurrect those good feelings by telling you to eat comfort food.

When the brain learns something, it first goes into short-term memory.  When the learned routine is repeated overtime, it goes into long-term memory and enters the subconscious mind.  At this point, the behavior becomes “reflexive” or “instinctive.”  This means that when the trigger is presented, the learned behavior is automatically initiated, without effort from (and sometimes knowledge of) the conscious, aware mind.   A trigger is something that resurrects the memory in some way.   It can be a passing thought, an object, a place, certain words, or even a smell.   As the learned behavior proceeds, it is difficult for the person to stop because it is so ingrained into the subconsciousness.

Emotional eating is closely related to this phenomenon.   Weight loss coaches describe emotional eating as “eating to deal with a prevailing emotion rather than to satisfy hunger.”   It usually involves eating some kind of sweet or fat-laden, high calorie food.  The individual yearns for the comforting effect of the food– it’s smell and taste, its appearance, the way it feels in their mouth.  Many women love eating chocolate when they feel sad.  Some people grab a pint of premium ice cream and finish it all in one sitting, while others settle for a box of Krispy Kreme donuts.

When someone has difficulty controlling his eating, it is usually a case of emotional eating, which again is borne out of learned behavior.   And this is often the driving force behind most cases of obesity.  There can be other factors like medications, endocrine disorders, lack of exercise, and not knowing how to eat healthy, but the crux of the problem inevitably stems from some form of emotional eating.

With this in mind, the intelligent way to lose weight is to start with the mindset.  Do not just all of a sudden try to overhaul your diet and start exercising regularly, because if you have not addressed the root cause of your eating behavior it will eventually return and you will have to start all over again.  The first exercise is to understand that you eat based on emotion.   This problem is the main creator of unwanted fat cell accumulation in your body.  Make your conscious mind aware of your subconscious mind’s thoughts so it can “police” your behavior.  In doing this, you can catch yourself when you start to think of eating comfort food.  If you can’t catch yourself, you cannot stop the behavior.

So, for the first few weeks practice on being cognizant of the fact that you have unwanted, unhealthy learned behavior patterns that have taken residence in your subconscious mind.  Be aware and accept that, in order for you to lose fat weight you need to gradually eliminate these learned behaviors.  You see, it took time and repetition to learn these unwanted behaviors, but they can be eliminated with time and repetition of healthier behaviors.  Continually tell yourself this before you begin your weight loss journey.

True, permanent weight loss is only part of a much bigger concept, and that is achieving optimal health.  That is the goal, and even when you reach this goal, it does not end.   Life is about change.  Our bodies are a dynamic colony of cells living synergistically to form our unique self.  Take a moment to discover what you truly want, above and beyond the desire to have a slim body.   Everything you desire is dependent on having a healthy, durable vessel (body) that will enable you to physically accomplish those desires.  If your vessel is  broken, you will be limited in what you can do, and may even expire prematurely.  Grasp this concept, and eventually you will experience a shift in your subconscious mind.  You will instinctively and reflexively make decisions that promote health, and those old, health-destroying habits will dissolve into the past.

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