We live in a society where there is a lot of pressure to be skinny. You walk down the shopping aisle and you get to the magazine section. Scanning through the magazines you are struck by the beauty and perfection of the models on the front cover. Is this really a true reflection of society we live in?
The obesity levels in the UK have risen over the past few years. 60% of British adults are overweight and 31% of British children are overweight. 25% of the British adults are classed as obese. For someone who is classed as overweight or obese they should aim to lose at least 10% of his or her body weight. This would make a huge difference to becoming healthier and improving their general health and wellbeing.
The question is why is there such a high portion of people in the UK overweight?
Some researchers believe that too many people are lazy and that they’re living a sedentary lifestyle, not exercising enough and consuming too many calories. An extra 100 calories a day (1 chocolate biscuit) can lead to a 10 lbs weight gain within a year…. Have you wondered how your weight has slowly increased??
I believe that people’s weight gain is linked to psychological factors. For me there is a correlation between emotions and eating patterns.
When you have a bad day at work, argue with your partner or just experienced a stressful day. Food becomes your friend. You believe that if we have a sugary snack, a bar of chocolate, can of coke or pizza all the problems will go away. Unfortunately as you all have experienced this isn’t the case. Instead you feel worse about yourselves; you either overindulge or feel even more depressed.
You might also use food as a reward. I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat at all but if this becomes your coping mechanism then this becomes a problem. The comfort eating only goes one way and this is into the downward spiral. When the extra pounds start creeping on this is when vulnerability is exposed. You either go down two pathways; you continue to eat more or more and you do something about it.
Tackling the problem head on and facing up to the causes of why you emotionally eat isn’t easy. A psychological change is what is needed and unless we are mentally prepared for a change a half-hearted attempt will not make a difference.
There could be more then one reason for the recent weight gain you need to identify those reasons and work out how you can fix them. One simple psychological technique which I once used to overcome a disorder was to write 3 positive things about myself a day. I would recommend that you do this at the end of each day. Going to bed with position thoughts will help you start the next day feeling positive about yourself. The three positive thoughts should include encouraging, boosting and uplifting phrases.
A mood/food diary is also essential. This needs to be filled out religiously. The aim is to see whether you can identify what makes you want to eat and hopefully it will bring an understanding that it’s a psychological matter rather then being hungry. After a few weeks a method needs to be employed to help you get out of the pattern. An alternative approach is needed to meet your needs without emotionally eating.
Instead of trying to tackle a problem by eating why not talk to someone who you trust or even write down your thoughts. It’s better to put words onto paper then food into your mouth. You should surround yourself with people who encourage and make you feel better about yourself. Remember most of your eating is done when you feel lonely, stressed and sad.
Adding exercise into your daily routine can reduce stress levels and increase your endorphin levels. You need to have a healthy mind and body. Exercise classes are great for socialising and can be fun.
Find something you can put your energy into and become competitive. The competition is with your brain you need to pick the emotional battle and make sure you win.
Instead of emotionally eating after a stressful day/week at work you shouldn’t be afraid to take a step back. Your health is an important factor in life. If you’re stressed your body will response in a negative way which will effect your digestive system. Food becomes harder to digest which will cause bloated-ness and discomfort. To relief stresses go for a long walk and clear your mind, go for a fast blast run (take out your frustration) or take a relaxing yoga/pilates exercise class.
To eliminate the wrong choices make the wrong choices impossible. When going to the fridge make sure it’s filled with food that makes us feel good about ourselves. What we eat affects our mood so when shopping in the supermarket remember treat yourself to quality healthy foods.
Leave the excuses behind. Too many people have an excuse for why they emotionally eat or why they crave certain foods. Cravings have a purely psychological foundation; the reason why you crave food is because they want to suppress an emotion. There becomes an emotionally attached between the food and you. You remember how you felt after you ate a certain type chocolate bar or ice cream your brain starts to link happiness and satisfaction with food. Cravings are linked to emotionally over-eating. Those thoughts have to be crushed, just remember you’re not craving food because you’re hungry.
One small change can led to a positive effect on your lifestyle; remember to celebrate the positive outcomes of life. You have to remember changing your eating habits is a long process something which can’t be done over one night (remember Rome wasn’t built in a day!!). You have to work on your thought processes and build a confident foundation so you challenge the thoughts in your brain.