Psychological studies have shown that food is the single most powerful emotional stimulus in our lives. We use it as much to cheer us up, to fight depression, to reward ourselves and to indulge ourselves as we do to satisfy hunger.
However, this is not always a particularly healthy response and can lead to poor food choices and overeating. So how can you break the cycle?
It may not seem such an obvious connection, but exercise can play a large role in providing comfort and making you feel good.
Not only will getting physically active help you lose weight in a healthy way but it also lifts depression, improves overall health and reduces stress. The natural mood-boosting effects of exercise can therefore help put a stop to emotional eating.
The deprivation and hunger involved in strict dieting can trigger comfort eating and the urge to overeat. Instead of dieting, try to focus on eating in moderation.
Find nutritious foods that you enjoy and will benefit your health and eat only until you feel content, not uncomfortably stuffed. This will help you get real pleasure from your food.
© Sarah West Nutrition
Although you may feel guilty about snacking, eating between meals doesn’t need to be a weight loss disaster. In fact, grazing on small amounts of food throughout the day can help you to avoid extreme hunger and prevent you from overeating at your next meal.
The key is to keep moderation and balance in mind. Select foods that will satisfy your hunger, supply your body with lasting energy and provide you with key nutrients. If it doesn’t fit this description, then don’t eat it!
After a workout try snacking on a handful of raw unsalted nuts, celery sticks with peanut butter, some cottage cheese with fruit or chopped vegetables with hummous.
The protein in these snacks is important for preserving existing muscle mass (which can help boost your metabolism) and will also help keep you full up for longer, without undoing all your efforts in the gym.
The key to healthy snacking is preparation. With a little planning you can ensure you always have a selection of healthy snacks in your bag or desk drawer so that you’re ready to make the right choices when temptation strikes.
By keeping the right kinds of foods handy, heeding your hunger pangs can become an important part of your weight loss journey.
© Sarah West Nutrition