01 Aug Why do we eat when we’re not hungry?
Struggling to maintain a weight you are happy at can feel like a never ending battle. In this article I am going to share with you one of the factors that plays a key role in many people’s ability to maintain their happy weight long term…
Understanding triggers for non-hunger eating.
Forgetting what we eat for a moment, if we only ever ate when we were genuinely hungry, and stopped when we started to feel full, it would go a long way to help solve the obesity crisis we are facing.
But we don’t. We eat for many reasons other than hunger. We eat when we are stressed and when we are bored. We eat when we are sad and when we are happy. We eat to reward ourselves and we eat to distract or dissociate from uncomfortable situations. The list goes on.
Most of the clients we work with have a fairly good idea of what healthy food looks like. They understand that if they want to lose weight, it makes sense to choose the salad over the pizza. I have lost count of the amount of times people have said to me “I know what I need to do, I’m just not doing it.”
This is why coaching plays such a key role in our work with clients. Understanding and overcoming your triggers for non-hunger eating is vital if you want to feel in control of your relationship with food.
WORKING OUT YOUR TRIGGERS
Here is a simple way to identify your triggers for non-hunger eating. For one week (minimum, longer if you feel it would be beneficial) keep a food diary noting down not only what you eat but also how you feel at the time. At the end of the week, review what your diary and look out for reoccurring themes. Do you crave chocolate when you’re stressed? Or find yourself digging through the snack cupboard when you’re bored?
The first time I did this it was a revelation. I saw the extent to which the food I was eating changed when I was tired. Tiredness affects me hugely and always has me craving sugar and starchy carbs. With this understanding, now I know that it’s a nap I need, not cake. I have written before about how tiredness can impact our weight by disrupting our appetite and satiety hormones, making us feel hungrier and less satisfied by the food we eat. There are other examples of how our situations and emotions can alter our hormones and cause very real food cravings.
Once you have identified what is driving your desire to eat when you’re not hungry, you can work on finding a solution that isn’t food. Take some time to consider what you could do instead. Stress eating? Could you listen to a 10 minute guided meditation or breathing exercise, or go for a walk in nature instead? Bored? What else could bring you pleasure? A cup of tea and flick through a magazine? A chat with a friend?
Having a plan in advance will help you access an alternative solution when you find yourself drawn to the kitchen.
Of course, I am not saying you should never eat for pleasure. But when it becomes our default to seek pleasure, comfort or stress relief from food, we avoid addressing the real issue and risk compromising our weight loss or maintenance in the process.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Our work with clients extends far beyond simply providing tailored dietary guidelines and meal ideas. We understand that in order to successfully maintain a weight you are happy at long term, a more comprehensive approach is required.
It can be easy to blame a lack of willpower for your inability to reach your happy weight. In my experience there is often more to it than that.
If you’d like to explore how we can help you overcome your challenges with food and your weight, please do get in touch. You can reply to this email, or book yourself in for a complimentary call with me so that we can talk things through and come up with a plan. If you are struggling, we can help.