In an ideal world we'd all only eat when we're hungry. However, in reality we eat for a whole host of different reasons — because we're bored, tired, stressed, lonely or maybe just out of habit. To determine your eating triggers take a look at some common eating styles below then try out the survival tips and tricks that will help you shed weight easier than ever before.
The emotional eater
You often eat in response to emotions such as feeling happy, sad, anxious, angry and bored. Stress or uncomfortable feelings can lead to comfort eating, especially when you are alone. You regularly find yourself in a negative spiral of feeling bad, so you eat more which causes you to gain more weight which in turn makes you feel worse. Before you know it this negative spiral has you spinning out of control leaving you feeling powerless to do anything about it.
Keep a food diary to notice times when situations or feelings may cause you to overeat. See if you can identify any 'triggers' to your negative feelings. Once you have identified what these triggers are take time out to develop strategies to deal with them in ways that don't involve eating.
Remember; if you don't help yourself no one else will so be bold and if the real cause of your weight gain is a job, friendship or relationship that isn't working don't be afraid to move on.
Make a list of things you can do instead of eating when dealing with uncomfortable feelings. De-stress by taking a bath or booking a massage, vent angry feelings by writing a letter to the person that has upset you (you don't have to send it), have a good cry at a sad film or talk through you anxieties with friends of family.
Include enjoyable things on your list too such as calling or sending an e-mail to an old friend, taking a walk or listening to music.
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The erratic eater
You would love to be a really healthy eater but somehow 'life' just seems to keep getting in the way. You have plenty of good intentions about improving your diet but your busy lifestyle makes it extremely difficult to put them into practise for any period of time.
You tend to eat quite erratically, often on the run. You skip meals and then find yourself eating whatever happens to be available at the time. You invariably go too long between eating which leaves you feeling really hungry and often results in overeating at the next meal time.
You have a tendency to snack rather than make proper meals and often get by on quick fixes like tea, coffee, cola, bags of crisps or a chocolate bar here and there.
Make sure you always eat a healthy, low-fat, high fibre breakfast such as All Bran and fruit, porridge or muesli. This will help to reduce the likelihood of becoming really hungry mid morning and snacking on high fat, high sugar quick fixes.
Always have at least two healthy snacks with you at all times such as a bag of dried fruit, a banana, yoghurt or a wholemeal teacake or scone.
Take a few minutes out to sit down and eat. Try not to do anything other than simply enjoy your food.
Reduce the temptation to skip meals or indulge in high fat quick fixes by devising five simple, healthy, low fat meals that you really like and can be made in less than five minutes then make sure you always have the ingredients in the house to make them.
The restrictive eater
Your answer to losing weight and improving your eating habits is to regularly take control by restricting your diet in some way. You may cut out wheat, limit your calories, put a ban of certain foods or simply try a diet that you haven't done before but you invariably find that after a while you become disillusioned and often respond by over indulging, often in the very foods you have been denying yourself.
This cycle may become worse during periods of stress. As a restrictive eater you have placed so many embargoes on your eating habits that you have lost the skill to identify when you are truly hungry.
You many also have a lot of foods that you simply will not eat for various reasons. You can be very hard on yourself where eating is concerned and tend to be quite self-critical.
Deep down you know that the real key to long-term weight loss is to eat a balanced and varied diet and to exercise but you just can't help believing that by cutting out certain food groups or restricting your diet in some way you will one day hit on a magic solution that will finally result in the body of your dreams.
Change your approach to weight management. Take a longer term view. Focus on eating a healthy balanced diet and getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
Eat smaller meals at regular times with lots of fruits and vegetables to fill you up.
Variety is the first step to achieving a truly healthy, nutrient packed diet. As a restrictive eater variety is likely to be very limited in your diet. Try to overcome that by making a list of all the foods that you don't like. See if there are any foods that you might be able to re-introduce to your diet. Try cooking them in a different way or eating them accompanied with another food that you do like.
The supermarkets are full of fruits and vegetables from all over the world. Increase the variety in your diet by eating at least one new one that you have never tried before every week.
Forget about foods being 'bad' or 'good' but remember that all foods are fine as long as they are eaten in moderation.
The absent minded eater
You lead a very busy life which means that eating healthily isn't always as high on your priority list as you'd like it to be but on the whole you feel you eat fairly well. The majority of the food you eat is done so whilst standing up or doing something else. You do admit to snacking on the odd biscuit at work, sometimes finishing the kids leftovers, having a bit of a taste whilst cooking or nibbling while cleaning up after a meal but you are convinced that there must be some physiological reason why your weight is as it is because you just don't eat that much!
Make a pact with yourself that for the next four weeks you will not do anything else whilst eating. Put a ban on eating in the car or in front of the TV. Every time you eat anything, even if it's only a small snack make sure you sit down and really take the time to enjoy your food. That way your body will get a chance to register the calories that you are taking in and you will feel far less inclined to over eat.
Encourage the whole family to sit down at the table for meal times. Try to limit the amount of opportunities you have to eat on the run. Don't keep snack foods such as crisps or biscuits in the house, in the car or by your desk.
Limit yourself to three regular meals a day. If you still feel hungry in between meals snack on fruit.