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Is Your Relationship with Food Causing Weight Gain?

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Success with your fat loss and weight loss program will depend heavily on your compliance with your meal plan. It doesn’t do you much good to burn 600 calories during a workout and eat four snickers bars afterward. That would ruin a great workout. That example is a little exaggerated but I hope you get the point. It matters what and how much you eat.

It sounds strange to talk about a relationship with objects. There are many situations in life that trigger emotional eating. Some examples are depression, stress, transitions, confrontations, promotions, births, deaths, successes, failures, marriages and divorces. Its easy to use something that tastes good to help us feel better (even if for a short time). And, this could be a habit that starts early in life.

Research on Emotional Eating

There’s ample research which has studied how emotional eating is triggered by poor coping skills. In one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in 2008, participants who said they were most likely to eat in response to their emotions (and least confident about being able to control their eating) were over 13 times more likely to be overweight or obese than those participants who reported the least emotional eating.

In the study, the participants’ perceptions of their ability to cope with emotions and stress were strongly linked to excess weight. The inadequate coping skills included lack of strategies to change stressful situations and manage emotions.

In my experience with clients, I have seen these two situations:

1. The client has had a lifelong problem with emotional eating. In one instance, a parent would unwittingly “help” the child feel better by giving her food. It appears that honest conversations about the situations is what was really needed. This habit followed her into adulthood and she still struggles with situational comfort eating.

2. I have seen several situations with men and women where significant weight gain followed painful divorces.

Poor Meal Planning and Eating Patterns Contribute to Emotional Eating

According to Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc. and writer for the FoodNetwork.com, poor meal planning is one of the biggest barriers to healthy eating.

If you don’t have a plan, you are apt to eat poorly. And, if you use food to cope with situations in life (happy or sad), you are headed for weight gain.

Plan your meals for the week and shop accordingly. Pack your meals if you are eating away from home at lunch or dinner. It will give you a better chance of succeeding with weight management during any situation in life. It will also save you money in the long-term.

Regular exercise always helps me feel better and cope better with any situation in life. The physical and emotional benefits of strenuous exercise are well documented. And, a great workout will cover eating mistakes.

No one has all the answers to the causes of and solutions to emotional eating. Use all the tools available to you to avoid using food as a crutch or comfort during situations in life. A personal trainer or other health professional can be one of those tools.

Mark Dilworth, BA, PES, CPT is a Certified Personal Trainer and former NCAA Division I athlete. Mark is the owner of My Fitness Hut, Her Fitness Hut, Sports Fitness Hut and My Nutrition Hut. Mark’s Fat Blaster Athletic Training System has been proven to give his clients the fit, sculpted and athletic-type bodies they want. Visit Mark’s main site:

Your Fitness University http://yourfitnessuniversity.com

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EmpowHER Guest

When you are eating to fill a void that isn't related to an empty stomach, you crave a specific food, such as pizza or ice cream, and only that food will meet your need. When you eat because you are actually hungry, you're open to options.
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April 27, 2011 - 2:44am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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