What’s More Important Than Diet & Exercise?

Emotional Eating

The two most common elements of pretty much all the weight loss programmes available to us are:

1. Diet
2. Exercise.

This has been the strategy for many years, and so it’s nothing new to us, such a simple formula BUT if all we need to do is to take care of our CICO (Calories In Calories Out) then why is obesity still on the increase and why are so many of us still struggling to lose weight after trying a number of those popular diets?

The answer is that a third critical element is missing from this advice, the “elephant in the room” ignored by so many providers, is that eating is not just a physical activity it is also a very EMOTIONAL one.

Our emotions and our desire to avoid pain and achieve pleasure is what is driving all of our choices. If we needed instant sugar for energy but it tasted horrible, then we would be less inclined to search for it. In fact most things in nature that are poisonous and dangerous to us have a bad taste, this is nature’s way of helping us understand what to avoid.

When you get an emotional reward for doing something, such as a feeling of comfort then you are motivated to do the same thing, or something very similar again and again.

There are essentially two elements that drive what we eat and that is genuine physical hunger and emotional triggers.

When we learn that sweet foods make us feel good emotionally, our brains automatically look for opportunities to use the same mind mapping and the same strategy. So from when we were little we have managed to create a list of foods that we ‘believe’ make us feel better for every emotion we have, when we are sad, when we are happy and celebrating, when we are bored etc. Our brains don’t know reality from fiction so they just do the job they have always done and remind you to ‘eat the cake’ so you will feel better.


Of course once you eat the cake (or the ice-cream, pizza, chocolate etc.), because these are mostly high GI foods, you get an instant hit from serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good, and that just cements the idea that these foods do really make you feel better! At the same time the chemical reaction in your body from the serotonin makes you crave the food even more.

The good news is that all this is reversible, but you first must overcome the emotional craving for the food for long enough for your body to make the necessary adaptations. Your brain is wired so that the more you do something the more you can do it automatically…so much of the time, you literally eat without thinking. You can learn new ways of re-minding your brain how to do things in order to make the changes that will enhance your health.

It is up to you to change the association that you have with the thought that you have. Just imagine what it would be like to have a new thought. For example, how would it feel to walk past a chocolate/crisp aisle at the supermarket and genuinely not want the chocolate/crisps?… to not be controlled by a chemical sugary/salty/fatty concoction that sits very happily on your thighs or tummy!

I’m sure you have experienced the tug of war inner voice that goes on in the supermarket! The first step is to notice your regular recurring thought. (‘I deserve…want….need…this’…’I can eat better tomorrow’….I’ve had a terrible day so this will make it better’)… Acknowledge that it was once true, but that it’s not necessarily true now. It is certainly not serving you now in your goal to be healthier and slimmer.

This is the time to remember how good you will feel when you make a healthier choice or a different choice. Remember you can’t actually see and feel the pain your choices are causing you in the moment, but days later when you are no longer emotionally attached to that instant need to give into the craving, you will hate the choice that you made.

If you could see the outcome of your choices, then you would make different choices. So see the outcome for what it is and start making a different choice today.

Watch my video below as a great reminder of what to do when you are in this moment:

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