Weekly Topic: Let It Go!

Sad, happy, stressed—emotions can lead us right to the cookie jar. But there are better ways to satisfy that hunger.
Published June 25, 2017

“Eating doesn’t solve anything except hunger." You’ve probably heard a variation on that truth along the way on your weight-loss journey. Of course, the natural response might be: "Then why do people do it?" Because food, especially food that’s high in fat and/or sugar, can deliver an instant counterpunch to the emotions that have you by the throat. It triggers the reward centres in our brains, flooding it with the feeling of pleasure.

It’s called external hunger, and unlike internal, physical, hunger, it’s not satisfied when we take in a sufficient number of calories or amount of food. No surprise that emotional eating can wreak havoc on your weight-loss efforts.

 (Dis)comfort food

Between 35 and 60 percent of people who struggle with their weight say that they frequently turn to food when emotions run high. And the choices we make when our feelings drive us to the fridge or pantry tend to rack up SmartPoints® values and not so hot nutritionally. (Too bad we don’t seem to crave apples or broccoli in those situations!) And that just makes things worse, because after the short-lived relief of eating “comfort food,” we feel bad. It becomes a vicious circle. How can you break free and find true comfort without food?

“Feel, don’t feed.”

There are a few strategies to address emotions more productively, so you’re not squashing the feeling only to have it resurface in the urge to eat. One is the “clouds passing” technique in your Weekly, where you acknowledge what you’re feeling, then visualize it passing by. Another tactic is called “reframing,” and it, too, is a way to recognize your emotion instead of trying to ignore it. With reframing, you then address the emotion in a positive, non-food way.

What do you really want?

Reframing helps you figure out just what you’re looking for when food isn’t the answer. Let’s say you find yourself mindlessly munching your way through prime-time television. You had dinner an hour ago, so you’re probably not hungry. Maybe what you're really feeling is loneliness. What can you do to address those feelings without food? You could call a friend or relative, invite your neighbour over for tea, or hop onto Connect and get encouragement and solutions from other members.

Try a non-food fix.

For starters, identify just what kind of hunger you’re feeling—internal or external.

Then, along with the ideas in your Weekly, choose a healthy way to redirect the urge to eat when you’re not hungry.

Team Bean

Hearty, satisfying, and nutritious—and did we mention the variety?—legumes offer a tasty protein alternative and they're perfect in summer salads!