What’s On Your Mind?
It can be easy to think that weight loss only has to do with our bodies when in reality our mind plays just as large of a role in our success. Negative emotions, judgment, stress and anxiety are all factors that can impede our weight loss progress without even realizing. We’ve all found ourselves frustrated with being “stalled” in our weight loss journey because we feel like we’re doing everything right in regards to eating the correct food, drinking enough water, and taking our supplements but we haven’t taken into consideration how stressed our job is making us feel right now or how anxious we feel about an upcoming event. When we start to look at the body as a whole rather than just what we eat and drink, it will be easier to show ourselves some grace and understand our struggles a bit better.
Feelings of depression and anxiety can drive our urge to eat. When we eat, especially junk food, a chemical in our brain releases giving us a feeling of satisfaction. In a way, it almost feels like a reward. This can be a dangerous road toward emotional eating and instead of trying to find the root cause of our negative emotions, we’re masking them with temporary and superficial satisfaction. A great solution to this is to try journaling. Write down your emotions and what events led you to feeling this way so that you can avoid sabotaging behaviors.
Stress is another similar roadblock when it comes to our health goals. Turning to eating when we’re experiencing feelings of stress is a natural response similar to that of anxiety and depression because it again releases that feel-good hormone which in turn momentarily eliminates our stressors. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips, make a list of everything that you’re finding overwhelming at the moment. Number the list to decide which items are your top priorities that you’re going to work on tackling first. Sometimes it can be beneficial to try to tackle several small items first so that you feel like you’ve accomplished more on your to-do list. Once you feel like you’ve regained control, you’ll be less likely to turn to eating as a form of coping.
Overall, the next time you go to grab a snack or make a meal, ask yourself “why”. Are you truly hungry? Are you experiencing feelings of stress, sadness, or anger? Are you trying to distract yourself? Are you eating because it’s mealtime? Asking these questions will help you decide if you are eating to fuel your body or if there are other factors driving your impulse. You can also ask yourself, is this food choice the best option for how I’m feeling? If you truly are hungry, are you eating nutritious food that is going to satisfy you long term or are you simply trying to curb your hanger as soon as possible? Be grateful for the food that nourishes your body and acknowledge your emotions before they take control of your decision making abilities.