There are moments in our day when we get in the mood to pamper our palates. You know, that ‘I got to have this feeling that you sometimes get when you catch an enticing whiff of something delicious? Say, a batch of hot, tasty pies. That persistent feeling that doesn’t quit until you zip straight to your favourite grocery store just to indulge a little? That feeling right there is what we call food craving. In this race for indulgence, everybody is involved, including us. So, welcome onboard the bandwagon and make yourself at home, mate!
Food cravings are an almost uncontrollable desire for food, usually processed foods. From time to time, these cravings remind you of three things: you’re healthy; you’re normal. And you’ve got a taste for the finer, richer, often sweeter, side of life, which is natural. Food cravings can hit you hard because of environmental factors, like some artfully baked, wholesome-looking cakes advertised on TV.
Sometimes food cravings can be caused by hormonal imbalances in your body. By imbalance, we mean too much or too little of a particular hormone-like ghrelin (hunger hormone) or serotonin. Menstruation and pregnancy are also top of the list for when food cravings readily show up (food cravings can be quite intense during pregnancy). This list also includes menopause.
You can’t hide from these cravings even during your emotional moments, as they’re tied to your emotions. When you indulge your craving, it is known as comfort or emotional eating. And here is where food cravings get strangely interesting and, sadly, figure-threatening.
EMOTIONAL EATING AND FOOD CRAVINGS: WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOUR WEIGHT?
Emotional eating is eating to soothe negative emotions such as boredom, stress, anger, loneliness, sadness, etc. We can’t hide from the negative side of life. Sometimes circumstances plough through us like baking whisk through the flour. Some events during your day can get you so worked up emotionally. The stronger the negative emotion you feel, the stronger your food cravings. So what are the possible emotional triggers for food cravings? Here are some of the common triggers:
- Educational anxiety and the attendant pressure on college students to perform by
- Work issues
- Family problems
- Relationship setbacks
- Health problems
The problems above are the stressors for negative emotions. Because of the need for quick relief from the negative state of the mind and body at any point in time, your body automatically yearns for what it knows provides pleasure and well-being—-food. Hungry or not, that doesn’t matter. Only your quick-relief does it. The moment you started turning to food for comfort doesn’t matter either and usually goes unnoticed.
What does become noticeable when you pay attention and trust us you will, is that over time your eating habits and emotions become so intertwined that it feels natural to reach out for the nearest bag of chips when you’re feeling stressed or sad just to feel better.
Because you almost always have a huge chunk of cake, or several helpings of ice cream within reach to ‘comfort’ you when you’re down, there’s a great tendency you may comfort yourself to the point of binging. And because emotional eating is not driven by hunger, you will eat when you don’t need to, which is bad news for your weight.
It is quite worth noting that the problem that brings these negative emotions never goes away. It is only temporarily forgotten while you’re basking in the temporary glow of ‘comfort’ provided by the food. You’re thrust into an endless, unhealthy cycle. How?
It starts with negative emotions, which drive you to binge, then the effects wear off, and they’re followed by feelings of guilt for setting yourself back in your weight loss journey. This burden of guilt may coincide with the next deluge of negative emotions. Or maybe not. Either way, you feel bad, and you deal with it the only way you’ve conditioned yourself to more binging. Unfortunately, your weight sadly keeps climbing relentlessly. A vicious cycle, wouldn’t you agree?
HOW CAN YOU PUT A BRAKE ON EMOTIONAL EATING?
If you’ve read this article up to this point, we believe you really want a break in the thick grey clouds. Now it’s time for the sun’s rays to break through. If you want to put a brake on emotional eating, here are 6 things you must do:
Carefully identify the problem, then tackle it.
Negative emotions never occur by themselves. They always have a trigger, some of which are named above. Traffic always stresses you up after work, for instance? Find likely routes you can take to get you home on time. Whatever negative emotion you’re feeling, fight the urge to eat. Identify the problem and deal with it. Do that always and you will never have to eat when you don’t need to.
Always stick to your mealtime schedules.
Endeavour to stick to meal schedules that you’ve planned for yourself. However, you may be overwhelmed with the urge to snack between mealtimes every now and again. If that’s the case, then there’s no better snack than fruits! Fibre-loaded, nutrient-dense, fruits are excellent for your weight loss goal. 100% natural smoothies and fruity drinks are also excellent alternatives.
An adage says, ‘when you’re running from temptation, don’t leave a forwarding address.’ So what are we saying exactly? Get rid of that enormous cake in your fridge, followed by the many varieties of ice cream in your refrigerator. Anything that represents a craving for you must go so that you can let go of that weight with ease. Oh, those canned sodas must go too!
Never forget the gathering of your ‘brethren’
Family and friends are the greatest support system you can ever pray for. They are your most fervent cheerleaders. You need all the encouragement you can get. Lean on them for strength whenever you can when you feel you’re caving to emotional eating.
Tackle boredom however you can
When you feel the urge to eat when not hungry, find that pleasure in an activity that comes naturally to you, an activity that pleases you. It may n, swimming, crocheting, pleasure walks, games, and so on. Whatever you do, fight boredom…….tooth and nail!
Always surround yourself with an air of positivity. No matter how many times you slipped in the past, whether binging, unhealthy choice of foods, emotional eating, or a poor lifestyle, you are not too far gone to cannot start afresh and get a hold of your life. Remember, a positive mind most definitely affects the exterior, which is your body. So when you’re feeling down about your weight, get yourself back up and be a winner always.
There you have it. You can pamper your palate anytime. By all means, please do. But remember, you can also put a check on your eating without letting negative emotions get the better of you in your weight loss program. Start taking charge.