Health Plus

Caring for Yourself


What’s Eating You?

When it comes to gaining weight, the key is not always what you’re eating.

It could be what’s eating you.

Ask any diet expert.  They’ll tell you that emotions such as depression, anxiety, anger, boredom and loneliness can make some people want to eat when they’re not hungry at all.

These experts tell us that our health and weight are often closely connected with our psychological, emotional and spiritual state.  If you’ve tried many times to lose weight without success, you could be eating for emotional reasons —reasons that can be discovered and changed.

For emotional eaters, negative emotions that make them want to eat are often triggered by events and memories.  These emotions are actually physical feelings that hit quickly—love, hate, joy, fear, anger.  Some of these emotions are painful to feel so we push them away.  Instead, we must learn to identify them and deal with them by:​

  • Telling ourselves that the memory or event isn’t worth becoming upset over.
  • Refusing to entertain them by turning our thoughts elsewhere.
  • Calming ourselves and focusing on taking action.
  • Centering ourselves with deep breathing, progressive relaxation, yoga, meditation, and exercise or guided imagery.

The Real Problem May Not Be Overeating

Despite our best efforts, we all occasionally feel overwhelmed.  That feeling may be a signal that we’re depressed or anxious.  If so, it’s critical that these difficulties be examined and resolved.  A professional counselor can help uncover hidden problems and help release their hold on you and your eating habits.

Therapists tell us that overweight people often stay heavy because they’re either unable or unwilling to look at what would change in their lives if they were to lose the weight and keep it off.  In every case, overeating isn’t really the problem—it’s often a coping mechanism used to deal with other, deeper problems.

Winners in the weight game decide to look closely at their inner struggles and motivations.  They figure out why they continue to hold on to the excess weight.  As unlikely as it sounds, anyone who overeats does get something from being overweight.  The key is finding out what that is and discovering how to solve that problem in some other, more constructive way.  Whatever the inner struggle, it must be unraveled.  Why?  Because it keeps people struggling with their weight instead of fully living life.

* Article taken from Health & Living, January 2003, V3 N1, page 9; a Mannatech publication. Mannatech, 600 S Royal Lane, Suite 200, Coppell, TX 75019

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