Weight loss is a hot topic in this country and most industrialized nations. It’s a hot topic because there is an obesity epidemic. We get bigger and bigger despite our knowledge of health and science continually getting more vast. Why is this? There are several reasons we continue to take our health for granted. Looking at real solutions for healthy weight loss rather than weight loss gimmicks or fads can ensure that we are really addressing the cause of the problem rather than just treating the symptoms.
A healthy weight is achieved by honoring and respecting your body. Our bodies are designed perfectly and naturally reach a healthy weight when we treat them appropriately. The problem occurs when we don’t pay attention to our bodies and we listen to our minds, cravings and emotions instead.
Throughout our lives we learn how to comfort ourselves with food, eat beyond satiety and fuel up on over-processed, nutritionally deficient foods. As we continually feed these bad habits, they grow and grow and become much harder to break. As they grow, so do we. As we grow, we become more dependent on emotional eating as our self image becomes less and less positive. The cycle of unhealthy eating and poor self image is a very difficult one to break. Yo-yo dieting is evidence of this as people are lured by a quick fix and then disappointed when the gimmick is unsustainable.
Truly healthy weight loss comes through getting in tune with the natural tendencies of the body to regulate body weight. This can be difficult to do when you have coped with unhealthy habits for so long. It requires determination and strength to get past cravings and temptations of the mind, as the majority of us already know.
The first step in healthy weight loss is recognizing and addressing your emotional connections to food. As humans, we tend to attach emotions to everything. Using inanimate objects like food, however, to deal with emotions, is a certain recipe for disaster. The only “comfort” that should come from eating is that comfort of alleviating a growling stomach.
Evaluate your eating habits and try to come up with all of the different ways you use food to cope with things other than hunger. Perhaps you use food when you are depressed to cheer you up. Maybe when you are lonely, food nourishes that craving for company. Many people eat out of boredom. Start paying attention to why you eat when you eat. You may realize you are eating throughout the day when you aren’t even hungry. During these times, what is your motivation for eating?
Once you have started to get a grasp on the ways you use food for comfort and an emotional reprieve you can start to address those feelings more properly. If you are sad, try honoring that sadness by crying or talking to someone. If you are angry, recognize and evaluate why. Investigate what you can do to treat these emotional symptoms rather than medicating them with food.
Lasting, healthy weight loss is possible but it is much harder than popping a diet drug or trying the newest fad. Consider this a long-term project. The goal of the first step is to eliminate emotional eating. By coming up with new coping techniques like exercise, prayer, and journaling you can really start to deal with your emotions rather than burying them in a buffet line.
For an in-depth look at emotional eating, take a look at this report from Faith and Fitness Magazine or this short piece I wrote about my own struggles with emotional eating.
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