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How Can I Lose Weight? Emotional Eating
If you’re like me, an emotional eater, you eat for reasons other than hunger. Is this familiar to you? At night, when I sit and watch TV, I think about eating ice cream. I visualize all the good chocolate swirl and nuts included in every bite. Before long I look at my watch and realize the shop will be closing soon and before I know it, I’m in line to buy a pint or two of my favorite ice cream.
What happened to me? What can I do?
Emotional eating has been described as eating to satisfy emotional feelings rather than physical hunger. What we are doing is fueling a feeling, usually a negative one. Have you ever heard of the term “comfort food” (sweets or junk food)? We are trying to feel better by eating a pleasant treat. The good feeling only lasts for a short time. Then we will feel guilty and angry with ourselves. Depression begins to generate an even more negative feeling and mood.
Emotional eating creates a vicious cycle, eating to satisfy a feeling, generating short-term pleasure, then guilt, creating more negative feelings, and then more eating to fuel that feeling. As I know, this cycle leads to obesity and health problems. I’m not going to hammer you with all the problems associated with obesity. Such as health problems, physical discomfort, lack of mobility and treatment and acceptance by society. You, like me, experience it all day, every day.
What I’m about to do is tell you how I came to deal with this problem. After being on so many weight loss programs, I’ve realized that my emotional eating usually has a trigger. Some of my triggers include: an anxious mood, facing a deadline, feeling sorry for myself, or being in an awkward situation. Sometimes, it’s a simple, positive trigger like food nearby, smells good, and everyone eats it and enjoys it.
How do I recognize emotional eating rather than physical hunger?
First: Emotional eating usually craves one type of food (ice cream for me) and only that food will satisfy the craving. Where like, if I was physically hungry then any choice of food would satisfy me.
Second: an emotional longing comes quickly and needs to be fulfilled now. Physical hunger gradually increases, but I can delay eating.
Third: If I’m eating emotionally, I will eat and continue to eat as well as being full and stuffed. I do this because I’m trying to satisfy a feeling, not hunger. On the other hand, when I eat because I’m hungry, once I’m full, I stop eating.
Fourth: After I’m done with an emotional binge, I always feel guilty and promise myself to do better. Obviously I don’t keep that promise and get ready for another binge. Conversely, if I ate out of hunger, then I don’t feel guilty and am satisfied with my meal.
Fifth: I’ve realized that part of my emotional eating is due to positive feelings like partying with friends and coworkers. In these situations, I usually overindulge in food and find that social drinking also becomes an unwanted source of calories. The good feelings generated by the celebration are enhanced by good food and drink. I have found that in these cases it is better to eat beforehand and enjoy the company of my friends and not the food and drink.
I use food as a distraction that prevents me from addressing a problem. It seems to me that my strongest cravings come when I am emotionally at my weakest.
There are many feelings that lead to emotional eating. These include: stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness, loneliness, not belonging, and not feeling good enough. What we need to do is learn to recognize these feelings and their triggers. The best method I know of is keeping a “Food Diary.”
The “Food Journal” should include the time we eat, what we eat, the number of calories consumed and the reasons we ate. This documentation process is a key component to changing our lifestyle. We need to know our eating habits so that we can understand, recognize and control our emotional eating episodes.
What can we do about emotional eating?
First: have an alternative to eating. Make a list of pleasurable self-help pastimes like listening to weight loss audios, doing an EFT session, or meditating with affirmations. You could do any physical activity like walking or any other exercise found in the “Calories Burned Graph” found in How Can I Lose Weight Challenge. You can call a friend, blog, or join a support group forum.
Second – Drive away temptation by not having your cravings in the house. You make it difficult to go about getting what you want.
Third: Keep healthy food choices like fruits and vegetables nearby. When those emotional binges come, acknowledge the situation and if you must eat, substitute a healthy choice instead of junk food.
Emotional eating can become detrimental to our well-being. If we are unable to control our eating, it may be necessary to seek the advice of a doctor. Usually, reading up on our “Food Journal”, substituting an alternative activity and home management of food will help overcome our desire to eat emotionally.
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