I started this week with new energy to bolster my self-discipline where my diet and exercise habits are concerned. Five days later, I’m happy to say I feel much better than I did at this time last week. One of the reasons behind the shift has to do with addressing a downfall many of us can relate to: emotional eating.
I suppose you could say I’m “lucky” that stress and anxiety usually cause me to eat less thanks to an unsettled stomach. However, for whatever reason this past month, my stomach was more than happy to welcome my comfort food cravings including those big bowls of cereal while watching TV before bed or that extra glass of red wine. I was able to keep those cravings at bay this week. How? By realizing my body didn’t really want the cereal or even the wine. Instead, I was searching for something that couldn’t be found at the bottom of a bowl or wine glass.
In fact, the cravings had nothing to do with my stomach at all. I was really looking for a something to lift my spirits. The key is figuring out where you can find that boost outside the refrigerator. Getting back to my normal exercise routine at the gym helped satisfy my “cravings,” as did catching up on emails with a few “old” friends and talking to others on the phone. I also found reading in bed before calling it a day instead of sitting on the couch and staring at the TV kept me from eating unnecessary calories.
Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are some days when a cupcake really can make things a little better. It’s just important to not let the total number of those days add up.
The bottom line is anyone – even full-time fitness fanatics like me – can make unhealthy choices thanks to a less-than-stellar mood. The key is breaking that automatic connection between food and mood and learning to identify when you’re eating for reasons that have nothing to do with being hungry. The good news is you can retrain yourself to find a boost from other things like exercise or interacting with friends. Luckily, there are plenty of mood enhancers out there that won’t sidetrack your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!