Emotional eating. It's what you are doing when you are putting food into your mouth at any time when you are not truly hungry. I'm really familiar with this, and if you are here reading this blog, you might be too.
I want to eat when I am tired. It's pretty simple actually. When I feel fatigued I have trained my body and mind to expect food. Am I hungry? Not at all. Do I eat anyway? You bet. Is that why I was overweight? Most likely it is a big part of it. And until I learned to replace eating when I am tired with doing something else when I am tired, my relationship with food was a nightmare and a source of embarrassment. Eating any food made me feel guilty, even when I was eating out of real hunger.
What do cravings have to do with all of this? Well, a craving for a certain food IS NOT THE SAME THING AS HUNGER. When you experience a craving, it is a signal that you are looking to experience a FEELING (in my case, more energy). That is why no amount of chocolate or potato chips can ever do the trick. What you are actually seeking is a sense of energy or calm, of excitement or peace. In other words, we are seeking a feeling and not a food.
What are your sources of fatigue? Lack of sleep, stress, anger, boredom, loneliness--any and all of these feeling can trigger a craving for food because we have become habituated to eating in order to satisfy those needs. But it doesn't work, does it?
Naturally thin people do not use food when they are tired, angry, lonely, or bored. They take a nap, work out their anger, call a friend or find something to do. Us emotional eaters need to rewire our brains' circuits. After all, what we're after is not the ice cream, chips or chocolate--it is a feeling of calm or revitalization at the end of the day. Junk food can never deliver this feeling.
Just remember, you are after a feeling, not a food. Find an alternate way of achieving that feeling. Maybe it's a warm bath or a hot cup of tea or a yoga class. Or maybe just take a few deep breaths. Make a practice out of using the alternative. The alternative must feel like a reward. Once you have done this multiple times, over the course of two to three months, your brain circuitry will be rewired in a healthy way. You can do it and you are worth it!
Based on an article by Peggy Hall in the July/August issue of Clean Eating Magazine. http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/
If this post spoke to you and you are looking to dig deeper into how to overcome your cravings and not self-sabotage, here is a great article from Peer Trainer: