Emotions May Be Your Biggest Enemy in Controlling Your Weight


It’s the stuff of everybody’s favorite comedy movies – boy meets girl, boy dumps girl, girl eats a pint of ice cream. Who can’t relate?

Eating and emotions go hand-in-hand for many who are trying to drop a few pounds, and also for people who find themselves losing weight unintentionally. Many people report eating when they’re anxious, sad, depressed, lonely or worried. In fact, a new online poll of psychologists affiliated with the American Psychological Association strongly indicates that emotions are a significant obstacle to weight loss, for some people.

What the Experts Say

The poll surveyed 1,328 licensed psychologists about techniques they use with clients hoping to lose weight and keep it off. Close to half, cited the need to understand and manage both the feelings leading to overeating and the behaviors needed to manage weight and eating habits. 43 percent referenced emotional eating as a strong barrier to weight loss.

Take a look inside yourself and determine if your emotions are part of the reason your weight is an issue. If so, think about ways to tackle the cause head-on. Seventy percent of the psychologists polled identified cognitive therapy, problem-solving and the practice of mindfulness as either excellent or good strategies for examining deeper issues and bringing about weight loss.  

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an action-oriented approach to treating multiple mental disorders and psychological problems, including weight loss and depression. By focusing on an individual’s thought processes, CBT supports an alteration in behaviors and emotions.

The practice of mindfulness allows a person to observe their feelings, thoughts and emotional state without judgement. It supports the concept of living in the now and staying alert to thoughts, actions, experiences and motivations.

Real-Life Strategies You Can Use

It’s no news that losing weight and keeping it off isn’t easy, but it can help to remember that you are not your emotions. Other strategies that can help include:

  • Design and maintain a clockwork exercise schedule. Choose a regimen you can stick to, independent of outside factors that can stop you, like the weather or your schedule.
  • Become more movement conscious. Little things, like getting up to change the television channel instead of using the remote, or climbing the stairs instead of riding the elevator can burn more calories in a day than you may realize, helping you to shed pounds and become healthier, almost effortlessly.
  • Find a fitness buddy and schedule after dinner walks, tennis matches or yoga classes together
  • Walk your dog or run errands for longer intervals each day.
  • Make every bite count. Choose your foods wisely for their nutritional value and think before you eat.
  • Read labels and avoid hidden calories and fat.

Taking charge of your weight and health is empowering and can support management of your emotional state. By taking control of your emotions and behaviors, you may find yourself losing weight more easily than you ever thought possible.