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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5810
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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I need help with my weight. I have been overweight since the

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I need help with my weight. I have been overweight since the birth of my twins in 74. Also a very rough marriage lead me to food for releif. I am now 59 and need to get this weight off. I cannot seem to stay away from food when I am bored and emotionally upset. What could I substitute for this form of behavior>?

Hi, it's good to hear from you! Thank you for requesting my help.

Weight loss is as much in the mind as it is in the body. In order to lose weight, you need to have mind over matter. You described eating in response to a bad marriage which says you understand how emotions can affect your weight.

Eating emotionally becomes a cycle. You feel stressed, you eat then you feel bad. You try to stop, feel stressed again, then eat more. Eating provides a pleasure that few other things do. It fills us up, gives us a satisfied feeling and can even make us feel happy. Very few people do not like to eat.

Balancing the necessity of eating every day with eating for pleasure can be difficult. That is when our emotions come into play. Seeing eating as an answer to our bad feelings and our stress is at the heart of the weight issue. Temptation and the immediate gratification of our wants is a close second.

Going on a diet never works. Diets are temporary. Lifestyle changes are not. They are permanent. This is the best way to start weight loss and improve your health.

The first step is to find other things you can do to substitute for emotional eating. When you feel sad, upset, depressed or other emotions, you need a list you can turn to to help you sooth yourself in other ways. Think of at least 5 things you like to do. The activities must be fun, no "take a walk" type things unless you find that fun.

Thinking of food differently is key. For example, you have a rough day at work. So when you get home, all you want is a cheeseburger, fries and some ice cream. Most people just react to that thought and dive right in. But if you can stop and think it through, it can make a big difference. How will you feel when you are finished? Will the food make you happy or only placate you for a while? What can you do instead that will make you happy? If you just have to have that cheeseburger, go ahead. But make it 1 patty, with low fat cheese and on a wheat bun. Bake your fries and have 1 cup. Then finish it with a Debbie cake or a small soft serve cone. This is how you have what you need but control it. Don't deprive yourself but do control what you eat.

Keep a food diary. Sounds boring, right? But even if you just do it one day, you will see how much you are eating. It is easy to stuff food down and not see how much you are eating. Most servings these days are too big. Learn serving sizes so you have an idea of what one is. A piece of chicken is a deck of cards, for example. That way if you have more, you know you ate 2 servings.

Don't reduce the amount you eat. By this I mean eat a lot. Just eat a lot of different foods. One of the problems with emotional eating is the need to feel full. Sometimes very full. This does not have to mean full fat foods. So find low calorie foods that you can eat a lot of. Salads are good, if you use a vinegar based dressing. You can add your daily fruit in there (dried fruits are great and taste sweet), and your vegetables. And you can eat many cups without eating a lot of calories. Don't forgo letting yourself feel stuffed. Treat it like a game. Go on the hunt for foods that have few calories that you can eat lots of.

Get support. Consider Weight Watchers either in person or on line. They can teach you a lot about how to see food differently.

Sleep is very important, especially if you are stressed. The less you sleep the more you eat to keep your energy up.

Read a lot about weight loss and pick out the tips that work for you. Don't follow a diet or certain weight loss person. It restricts you too much and you may fail.

Find ways to express your feelings. Keep a diary, talk to friends, start a blog, etc. However you best express your feelings.

Practice looking forward to other things in your life. A favorite book, a good movie, a night out with friends or spending time with kids.

Consider counseling if you feel you cannot work on your own with your emotional issues. You can benefit from the support.

I hope this has helped,

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