There are countless factors which can lead to being overweight, from an unbalanced diet to a lack of exercise, or both. However, one common problem is having a relationship with food that goes beyond the simple need for nutrition or the enjoyment of flavor. Many people find that eating is a great comfort in times of stress or boredom. While in some cases taking refuge in food can be a serious health issue, for most it’s simply an obstacle to weight loss- taking on unnecessary calories when a moment of temptation proves irresistible.
If you find that comfort eating, also known as emotional eating, is sabotaging your slimming efforts, can anything be done? The main thing to recognize is that for the vast majority of people, the urge to find solace in food is a temporary impulse that will soon pass. Finding a way to distract yourself for a brief moment can be a remarkably simple way of fighting off the desire to indulge in a fattening treat.
The key consideration, however, is that this distraction must be something that truly takes you out of temptation’s reach and completely diverts your attention – simply switching on the TV isn’t going to cut it. Here are some ideas to try.
Phone a Friend
When you feel the need of a comforting tidbit, picking up the phone for a brief chat with a friend will help the moment pass. Perhaps tell a close friend or two beforehand that you may be calling on them for a little help occasionally. When they’re given advance notice, not only can they help distract you from your temptation, but they can also provide you with a little emotional support to get you through a difficult few minutes.
Start a Diary
lf you don’t already keep a journal, maybe now is a good time to start. There’s no need to follow the traditional route of making your diary entries in a leather-bound ledger at bedtime. You can just as easily use your smartphone. The great advantage is that this is extremely flexible, and you can open up your digital diary wherever you are, whenever you need a moment’s distraction.
For even more benefit, make a note of what’s caused you to reach for your diary at that particular time. After a while, you may notice a pattern emerging, which you can then address to reduce your temptations in the future.
Depending on your situation, simply taking a little meditative time-out can help enormously. Breathe deeply, concentrate fully on a nearby object while mentally describing its features, and try and clear your mind of everything else. A little mindfulness can go a long way in beating emotional eating.
Take a Spot of Exercise
It’s not always practical, but if you have the option, taking a spot of exercise can serve as a distraction from sudden appetite pangs. Whether you do a few simple stretches or head out for a run, you’ll be taking your mind off your hunger and burning off a few extra calories too.
Sort Out Your Email
Most people have email inboxes straining under the weight of unread newsletters, non-urgent replies, and other digital detritus of online life. If you need a few minute’s diversion, why not use the opportunity to put your email in order, especially when you can do this easily via your smartphone at a moment’s notice.
Get Busy With the Housework
Few people relish the essential chores of housework, but these necessary evils can be transformed into a dieting ally. Simply throw yourself into them when you hear the siren call of sugary snacks. It’s an old cliche that the devil makes work for idle hands, but there’s no doubt that busy hands can’t be caught raiding the cookie jar.
Play a Game
Any modern smartphone can be loaded with simple yet diverting games which can pass a few moments here and there. There are thousands to choose from, with something for everyone, even if you’re not a gaming fan. A few minutes distraction in the virtual world can be all it takes to overcome your urge to eat.
There seems to be no end to the parade of hot diet plans which supposedly guarantee to make weight loss easy. However, no matter which particular dieting method works for you, all your hard work can be undone when stress or worry makes you reach for a comforting snack. Prepare yourself for these moments of mini-crisis. Use one or more of the techniques described to get through them, and those extra few calories a day that you avoid may be the final piece of your slimming puzzle.