Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Preventing Over Eating

A lot of disorders related to stress and anxiety like depression often have the unfortunate side effect of causing people to overeat. Even people who do not suffer from these psychological disorders tend to overeat when they get stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed by situations and events. If you find yourself stuffing your face every time you are presented with a situation that overwhelms you, you may be suffering from emotional overeating and this can be the start of a vicious cycle.

A Vicious Cycle

People who suffer from psychological disorders like depression and anxiety are often plagued by low self-esteem and poor confidence. When they fall victim to emotional overeating, they pay no heed to what they put into their mouths – chips, sodas, chocolates, and candies are all fair game. These treats are terribly unhealthy with all the extra salt, fat, and sugar. Emotional overeating can cause people to gain weight and the excess pounds can farther damage their fragile psyches hence, fueling another round of this cycle.

How to Stop It

Of course, the most logical thing to do is to seek treatment from the underlying conditions that causes a person to overeat. However, treatment for these disorders can take a long time – meaning there are a lot of opportunities for emotional overeating to take over people's lives. If you find yourself eating because of nerves, anxiety, or stress, here are some tips that can help you manage your eating habits:

1. Learn to recognize real hunger from emotionally induced ones.

The best way to do this is by being rational. If you just ate a substantial snack or mean a few minutes or an hour ago and yet, you feel hungry, you are probably experiencing emotionally induced hunger. Give yourself a few minutes to allow the imaginary hunger to pass. This is especially the case when you are faced with a potentially stressful situation.

2. Know what triggers your cravings.

Stress triggers are often the same ones that signal your cravings to start. Knowing what triggers your cravings can help you manage them better. If you are unsure of your triggers, write down what you eat daily in relation to how you feel. Over time, you may see patterns emerge that reveal negative eating patterns and triggers to avoid.

3. Keep healthy food around.

There are times when cravings just cannot be controlled. In these cases, it is best to have healthy alternatives around. Instead of keeping chips and chocolates around, stock up on precut vegetables and fruits for easy snacking. Replace ice cream cartons with yogurt tubs and substitute water for sodas.

4. Exercise regularly.

Your mood is more manageable and your body can fight stress more effectively when it's fit and well-rested. Seeing as stress can trigger mood swings and the cravings that go with it, having a regular physical activity can help you overcome emotional overeating.

5. Get adequate rest.

Rest is as essential as exercise when it comes to keeping your weight at a healthy level. Getting adequate rest can help you manage your mood swings better, meaning you have more control over your overeating tendencies.

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