It is easy to get lost in all of the dieting information that is thrown at you. Actually, eating right is not about the food choices at all.
In working with people on weight management , I have discovered an often overlooked crucial factor in eating well . Weight issues typically center around non-hunger eating. This type of eating is something most of us do, but few of us realize -- it tends to happen when tense, sad, bored, and even when feeling good.
Eating when we have no physical hunger at all serves to numb our feelings of discomfort. Some people have not felt physical hunger in a very long time due to this constant numbing. Chemicals such as serotonin play a big role in regulating our moods. This gives us a very subtle positive feedback message each time we consume sweets or carbohydrates.
Physical hunger is described as an empty or even painful grumbling in the stomach. It could strike as a headache or shakiness. Paying attention to your own body is a crucial step in the regulation of weight. It is sometimes easiest for people to use a tool such as a hunger and fullness scale . This is a scale from 1-10, with 1 being terribly hungry and 10 being full almost to the point of sick. On this scale, a 5 is considered neutral.
Wanting to eat something when you are not physically hungry means something is going on for you. Emotional eating is a common issue for those struggling with weight. You can use a journal to try to determine why you want to eat when you are not hungry. You may be able to figure out what you are feeling. If you can figure out what is going on with you, then you can address the real problem instead of suppressing it with food.
So the next time you are struggling with good foods and bad foods , remember that eating right is not about those choices. Every food in the universe can fit into a persons lifestyle if it is eaten in the presence of physical hunger.
In fact, satisfying our true food cravings can lead to decreased eating overall. Having a bit of your favorite food my actually result in fewer daily calories consumed because you dont end up eating half a box of wheat thins later in the day. So if there is a question to eat or not to eat, simply check in with your body -- not a diet -- to determine the answer.
Contact us with any questions about eating and mental health issues. You or someone you know may be in need of outpatient eating disorder treatment.
Jennifer Pereira LPC, RD - Counselor & Dietitian
1. Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?
2. Do you make yourself sick (or use laxatives/exercise) if you feel uncomfortably full?
3. Do you currently suffer with or suffered in the past with eating issues?
4. Do you ever eat in secret?
5. Does your weight affect how you feel about yourself?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, or if you are not satisfied with your current eating patterns, contact us for more information.