Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Saying No to Food is Hard Sometimes

Getting a Handle on Emotional Eating
By: Jackie Clark

Experts say that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand when you're trying to lose weight, and they couldn't be more right. In order to effectively drop pounds for the long-term, you have to pair a physical activity program that works your body with a new pattern of eating that helps fuel your body while improving its health and overall well-being.

For some of us, getting up off the couch and moving around is the easy part. It's the food that gets us down, mostly thanks to emotional eating. You know, "eating your feelings," or otherwise turning to food as a comfort when times get tough.

Millions of Americans likely suffer from this problem. Food has become a comfort for so many people, like myself, that it's easier to open a package of chips or dig into a tub of ice cream to make life better than it is to really dig down deep and think about what is wrong. For people like me, weight loss hinges on getting control of the feelings I try to push down by eating cake, pie and cookies.

For years I continued using Italian food, desserts and extra helpings at every meal as a crutch to keep me "sane" while my personal life was falling apart. I ate when I was happy, sad, mad or anxious - which was really all the time. It wasn't until I was out on my own for a while that it got to be too much. When the size 16 jeans I'd worn for years got too tight, I finally thought, "Enough is enough."

I joined a gym and started working out, but wasn't seeing the results I wanted. When a trainer at the gym questioned me - and I mean REALLY questioned me - about my eating habits, I faced up to the fact that all the exercise in the world wasn't helping when dinner each night consisted of enough food to feed a competitive weight lifter.

Through hard work and self-examination, I've come to realize that I am very much an emotional eater. It's taken years, tears and some therapy sessions, but I've worked through some issues and am well on the path to losing weight. There are days when I slip back into old patterns, but all in all my habits have improved, and my weight loss efforts are more successful because of it.

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