Feeling #1: Tired — It dulls your “I’m full” hormone.
When you are lacking sleep, the body naturally craves food that provides instant energy. Research shows that after 2 nights of insufficient sleep — craving for carbs increase by 45%.
There are two hunger hormones that regulate ‘hunger versus fullness’. Ghrelin signals “eat” and Leptin signals “stop”.
When you haven’t had enough sleep (typically 7-8 hours for the average person) — the Ghrelin levels increase and Leptin levels decrease. That means when you lack sleep — you eat — you don’t feel full — and you continue to eat even though you aren’t hungry.
Solution: Pay attention to your sleep schedule. Consider a natural remedy if you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep — such as an essential oil of Lavender on your feet. The natural qualities of Lavender promote a restful sleep. Check with your doctor first – even natural remedies aren’t right for everyone.
Feeling #2: Happily Married/Partnered — It invigorates “I deserve this” thinking.
The researcher and author, Brian Wansink, Ph.D., (Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think), surveyed 1,000 people and found that participants were most likely to turn to comfort foods when they were happy (86 percent) or when they wanted to reward themselves for something done well (74 percent). Research supports the notion that getting married encourages a “let yourself go” mentality and enjoyment of food together.
Solution: Identify the shared habits that are harming your health and come up with ways to engage with your spouse in a more healthy way. Consider other activities to connect that don’t involve food or take a ‘healthy cooking” class together.
Feeling #3: Lonely – It feeds the “I’m hungry” hormone.
The link between loneliness, depression and weight gain is substantial. I mentioned Ghrelin earlier — studies indicate that feelings of loneliness increases the “let’s eat” hormone. People who are perpetually lonely eat more than those who have good, healthy social networks.
Solution: Increase your interactions with people who are meaningful to you. Don’t have enough friends? Make a list of 1-3 organizations/events/groups you’d like to try out in the next month — and then go.
Feeling #4: Deprived – It masks itself as hunger.
Our brains become wired to view “no-no” foods as rewards, increasing cravings that are difficult to fight. Diets are founded around an all-or-nothing experience — “I can either have this or I can’t.” Therefore, dieting creates a feeling of, “I’m deprived” — which fuels the desire for the forbidden, locking you into a cycle of craving.
Solution: If you’re feeling deprived in your eating, learn to eat with mindfulness. That means that you can eat whatever you want — small portions – enjoy each bite – stop when you feel full. Doing this will eliminate labeling certain foods as “off limits,” which will help you crave them less.
Feeling #5: Anxiety – It drives mindless eating.
A recent study in the journal, Eating and Weight Disorders, placed anxiety as “one of the most important factors associated with weight gain.” My previous mentor from Chicago who specialized in eating issues stated that two-thirds of people who struggle with eating (either eating too much or too little), suffer from anxiety. Her experience was that anxiety came first and was then followed by unhealthy eating.
Solution: Get some help with your anxiety, albeit self-help books, a support group, meditation/prayer, spiritual advisor or a therapist.