Weight Control

Are Your Emotions The Key To Weight Control?

Have you ever considered how much your emotions influence your choices when it comes to your diet? Eating is not just about satisfying physical hunger. We eat not only to satisfy the appetite, but also to deal with the many feelings we may be experiencing in any given day.

From the moment a parent first offers something sweet or savoury to comfort or quiet a child, food becomes a way to nourish the soul as well as the body. So from an early age we use food for emotional comfort. It may be to celebrate when we’re happy, or to calm ourselves down, or to manage distress. Or it could be to relieve boredom, lift our depression, cope with stressful situations, or to comfort in times of sadness. Such behaviour is not unusual. The problem comes when emotionally driven unhealthy food habits become so entrenched they take over from eating for hunger and nutritional purposes.

Picture this example:

It’s a week-day, and Jane gets out of bed late because she is feeling very tired. She has no time for breakfast and races off to the office, arriving feeling rushed. The first thing she does is go to the coffee machine to get her hit of caffeine – “this will surely make me feel better and give me a kick start” she thinks. Mid morning comes and Jane is feeling ravenous because she hasn’t had breakfast, so off to the biscuit barrel she goes.  Instantly that sugar hit gives her a high, and she’s feeling good again.  One o’clock arrives and Jane’s stomach is rumbling and she realises she needs lunch, but it better be quick because she’s too busy to take a proper lunch break.  Racing out of the office feeling stressed, Jane goes to her closest lunch-bar to search for some pre-cooked fast food. That last slab of pizza should do the trick, and a can of Coke to wash it down. Four o’clock comes and Jane’s now feeling rather lethargic and it’s getting harder to stay focussed on the job. Her mind starts wandering to those fundraiser caramel koalas in the staff room. “Mmmm, they should make me feel better.”  Jane finally gets home from work feeling exhausted, and just wants to unwind and relax. Straight to the fridge for a glass of wine, she then throws her shoes off and jumps on the couch and says: “Yes! I deserve some me time.” Who can be bothered cooking dinner she thinks. “Maybe I’ll just have another glass of wine instead.”

These unhealthy food choices that give short bursts of energy but limited nutrition or sustenance, were made in response to the feelings experienced throughout the day.

When we don’t have other ways of honouring our emotions or the time to look after ourselves, we use food as a quick fix to help get us through. This becomes habitual, and as food cravings develop over time requiring you to eat more, so begins the insidious journey to weight gain AND poor health.

Counsellors recognise that solving many people’s weight problems is not simply about providing calorie-controlled diets and exercise regimes. Uncovering emotional eating is a big step towards change.  We’ll help you gain the emotional and cognitive awareness required, and provide behaviour modification techniques to help you develop improved lifestyle habits. This ultimately creates a healthier wellbeing, and in turn allows weight to stabilise naturally.

Understanding your reasons for unhealthy eating, and finding practical strategies for change, will enhance the likelihood of attaining your weight loss goals.