The third reason in our series of why we eat when we aren’t hungry is Inappropriate Restraint (dieting). Rigid restraint involves strict eating rules which inevitably lead to the natural response of binge eating once you break a rule. Rigid restraint is linked with short-term weight loss…and then more weight gain. However, flexible restraint, a habit of moderate self-regulation and reasonable room for “fun foods” was one of the strongest predictors of lasting weight loss.
To encourage flexible restraint while avoiding over-rigid rules, the researchers suggest:
• Create stable but flexible eating behaviors that do not foster a sense of deprivation.
• Eat mindfully, in a way that honors your food and your body’s hunger signals.
• Choose portions that make sense.
• Develop an attitude free of depriving rules and shame. (rid yourself of diet mentality)
• Have realistic expectations of yourself and your weight.
• Release weight slowly over time so the weight loss is stable.
What are your observations about giving up strict food rules?
We’re looking at three reasons* we eat when we are not hungry.
Emotional eating is a biggy. One of the main reasons we carry extra weight is eating when we are sad, bored, restless or anxious. Research (and our own experience) teaches us that eating in response to negative emotions can be a comfort, a tranquilizer, a way of “swallowing” feelings instead of expressing them or just a plain old distraction.
Here were some suggestions from the researchers and a few more thrown in:
*gathered from studies by the American Institute for Cancer Research.
• Research or take classes in problem-solving or stress-avoidance.
• Develop new ways of coping with your emotions. Work with a dietitian, nutritionist or wellness coach trained in teaching coping skills.
• Find a wise counselor and do some healthy emotional work. You will be so glad you did!
• Decide on three things you are going to do BEFORE you turn to food. Tell yourself you can go eat if you want but first you’re going to do three other things. It helps me to take a walk, get outside, listen to some “up” music or sing, dance a bit or jump around. You might decide on a safe health-buddy to call at times like this. Other ideas are to enjoy a garden for fifteen minutes, play some games, sweep the deck and then enjoy sitting on it, swing a bit, call a relative or elderly friend and chat for ten minutes…
What do you do to keep from eating when something’s gnawing at you?
Over the next week or so we are going to look at three big reasons WE EAT WHEN WE AREN’T HUNGRY. Recent studies show that we all tend to eat for the same reasons whether we grow up in Europe or America, no matter our economic situation or our age.
Knowing this is powerful stuff! When we know what’s driving us to grab food and put it in our mouths – we can drive the urge instead of the urge driving us.
One of the top reasons is CONVENIENCE – easy access to prepared and snack foods. It’s everywhere! If food is right before our eyes, is easy to grab and easy to eat – studies show that you probably will…unless you are mindful of what is happening. The cool thing is that we can spot these triggers. We can also do a lot to change the convenience-factor in our immediate environment.
Here are a few ideas:
• Keep candy dishes out of sight. Even having a lid on it or putting it six feet away slows us down.
• Keep snacks in drawers and not out on the counter in plain sight.
• Don‘t bring a lot of snack foods into your house. Keep them around mainly when you have company so they are enjoyed but gone quickly.
• Most of the time keep serving dishes on the stove rather than the table. We tend not to get seconds when the food is not right under our nose.
• Break the habit of buying snack foods when you go into a convenience store. Just don’t look. Do this for 21 – 30 days and the habit is broken. You won’t even miss it.
• Boycott buffets. Just too darn much food before your eyes, and usually not very high quality.
Bottom line – make snack foods inconvenient whenever you can. This is one big reason our great grand parents did not struggle as we do…no Nutter Butters in the house or M&Ms in candy jars.
What do you do to keep food from being ever present?