I was at the Wellington Women’s Lifestyle Expo last weekend, talking about Fat Chance! For me this was also a good opportunity to listen to what people are saying and feeling about weight loss.
One of the main themes to emerge was eating for emotional reasons. Many people readily acknowledge that they eat in response to emotional triggers such as stress, disappointment, boredom or reward and this is their biggest obstacle to weight loss.
This is such an important issue that Fat Chance! focuses on 'Dealing with emotional hunger' one day every week. Today I am taking an extract from Week 3, Day 4 of Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook:
“Emotional hunger is when you think you are hungry and you eat, but actually you are eating in a futile attempt to meet your emotional needs. You know that ultimately this never works; it never truly solves your problems and in the long term you only feel worse.
Wanting to eat when you are not hungry is usually triggered by one or more of the following emotional needs or stresses:
- Anger, frustration, stress, anxiety, guilt, grief
- Procrastination and avoidance (to fake busyness, to block out something, to escape or to avoid facing up to and dealing with issues in your life)
- Loneliness, emptiness, to fill a gap, boredom, physical tiredness
- Pain, disappointment, humiliation, rejection
- Protection, security, reliability, routine
- Defiance, lack of control
- Depression, lack of self-esteem, lack of acknowledgement
- Reward, celebration, the need for social bonding, belonging
Consider this list carefully. Which do you think most applies to you? What painful emotions do you often feel? What are you not facing up to? What do you most need to deal with?
Wanting to eat when you are not hungry is the cue that tells you that you have unmet emotional needs that you need to deal with. Identifying the associated positive emotion tells you what emotional goal you have expected food to meet for you (modify or mix these to suit yourself):
|When you have felt||You have expected food to give you|
|Disappointment||Comfort and encouragement|
|Angry or frustrated||Expression, resolution, change and justice|
|Stressed||Relief, relaxation and peace|
|Pain or hurt||Comfort, consolation and healing|
|Powerless||Control or confidence and self-belief|
|Vulnerable||Reassurance, security and protection|
|Unfulfilled||Satisfaction, achievement and purpose|
|Lonely or rejected||Friendship, affection, inclusion or recognition|
|Sad or depressed||Happiness, hope or self-worth|
|Bored||Interest, activity and excitement|
|Pleased||Reward, praise or celebration|
Identify the emotional goals you have been expecting food to satisfy for you:
When I have been feeling……………………………………...………………
I have expected food to give me……………………………….…………...…
This is what you are really trying to achieve. With this knowledge you can work out more constructive ways to achieve your emotional goals without food. (And it is okay to want to achieve these emotional goals, but just not with food.)
For example, how can you bring more happiness, peace, comfort, resolution, satisfaction, self-belief, control, hope, excitement or reward into your life without food?
If you can learn to identify and deal with your emotional hunger directly, head on, instead of through food, you won’t need food to do that for you any more (which, of course, it never really did). This may take some courage but you can do it!”
A heavy topic this week but it does have to be dealt with to lose weight successfully. If today’s blog has helped you, please visit www.fatchance.co.nz to find out more about Fat Chance!
Join me again next time…
Susan Maiava PhD is the author of Fat Chance! The no-going-back Weight Loss Workbook, available from Paper Plus, Whitcoulls, independent bookshops and Online at www.fatchance.co.nz (free delivery in NZ). RRP $39.99. Fat Chance! is ideal for groups. Professional enquiries also welcome.