Food Distraction – Food and Mood
Food can also be a distraction. If you’re concerned about an imminent event or rethinking an earlier conflict, eating comfort foods may distract you. But distraction is short-lived. While you are eating, your thoughts may focus on the satisfying taste of your comfort food. Unfortunately, when you’re done overeating, your attention returns to your worries, and you may now bear the additional burden of guilt about overeating.
As you might have realized, “will power” alone is an ineffective tool to address this problem, since our unconscious motivations are much more powerful and persistent than our conscious desire to eat healthy, exercise and so on. The only valid and permanent solution you are stressed, anxious or unhappy, needless to say, the problem is compounded.
Of course, it’s very important to be armed with a healthy diet plan and a well – structured exercise program that you can sustain. But neither of these things alone can bring about real and lasting weight loss if our own subconscious mind and concealed thoughts are still destroying us.
Food and Mood – How to stop this futile cycle
- Learn to recognize real hunger. Studies have found that the body is sometimes unable to distinguish true hunger from just stress or even thirst. (The next time you think you are hungry, drink a glass of water, wait a while and see if you are still experiencing hunger.)
- Identify the triggers that lead you to overeat. Maintaining a ‘food Journal’ for a week or two is an excellent way of recording your food intake, satiety levels and correlated mood. You may find to your surprise that there is a very definite association between that stressful meeting you need to attend and you reaching for the nearest ‘comfort food’, or your tendency to overeat at lunch when you have had a showdown with the kids or your spouse.
- Identify the thoughts and feelings you normally experience before your gluttonous enterprise and those that justify your indulgences.
- The best way to circumvent the downward spiral of overeating, self-loathing and then further overeating is to avoid keeping those sinful temptations near at hand, instead, stock up on healthier options, so if real hunger strikes you are not left feeling frustrated.
- Exercise regularly. If has been found repeatedly that exercise acts as a stress reliever. Modalities like yoga and meditation go a long way in managing stress. Any form of low to moderate intensity cardiovascular activity like a walk or a swim will help relieve stress. Find your favorite mode of exercise and use it to get you through the tough times instead of using food as way out.
- Get adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation has been shown to confuse the body into misreading the body’s signals of fatigue as hunger.
- Make a habit of ‘mindful eating’. Taking 10 minutes off for your meal will enable you to focus completely on the food and enjoy it, rather than consuming hundreds of calories without actually registering it.
- Find other outlets for your stress. Talking a walk, talking to a friend, watching a movie, pursuing a hobby can all substitute as distractions instead of food during susceptible times.
- See a therapist. If after your attempts to gain control of the situation you find there is no progress, it may be time to see a therapist to delve a little deeper into the psychological aspect of the problem.
- Upheavals are part and parcel of life. Learning to use the right resources to deal with unpleasant feelings is an important part of staying healthy. If you intend to make meaningful changes in your diet, weight and lifestyle, understanding yourself a little better will go a long way in preventing self sabotage and regret.