Picture this. You’ve had a bad day at work, your meetings didn’t go well, and you got stuck in traffic on your way home. What’s the first thing you do as soon as you walk through the front door? For many of us, the answer is something on the lines of ordering a large pizza or some decadent desserts.
After all, food has long been seen as a source of comfort. The answer to our woes when we’re feeling low, when we’re craving something that’ll just make us feel better than we are in that moment.
And while the occasional calorific indulgence is okay, it becomes a real problem when you consistently use food to satiate needs that may have nothing to do with food. It may also be the reason why you see your weight loss journey hit a wall.
So the next time you find yourself reaching for the snacks drawer...
...it may be worth your while to take a moment and assess how you’re feeling. A great way to do this is to use the HALT framework.
HALT stands for:
and can help you identify why you're suddenly craving that bag of chips or slice of cheesecake.
Ask yourself, am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired?
This one’s fairly obvious. All of us know that we need to meet our nutritional needs with a balanced diet that consists of several small meals a day. The truth is though, that sometimes life gets in the way.
Often, we skip meals, and hold off till we’re starving, which results in binge eating or consumption of fast food. If this is happening more often than not, it’s a good idea to take a look at your schedule and see what’s coming in the way of you maintaining a nutritious diet.
- Perhaps begin meal prepping over the weekend
- Wake up an hour earlier everyday to prepare yourself a filling, protein-rich breakfast
- Be conscious of the nutrients in every meal to feel fuller for longer
Had an argument with a friend? Didn’t get credit for the presentation you worked hard on? Well, before you reach out to that slice of cake to dull your anger, you might want to take a few breaths to calm down.
Food, at the most, can provide temporary relief - it cannot resolve your anger. Instead of stress eating and bingeing on empty calories:
- Try some stress relief methods such as journaling or meditation
- Confront the source of your anger, have a face-to-face conversation if applicable
- Go out for a walk to calm yourself down
If you’re feeling the urge to eat, say, soon after your last meal, try and assess whether you’re attempting to fulfill another need with food. A lack of social interaction can often lead us to overeating to compensate for feelings of loneliness.
This is especially true for those who are on strict diets. Since most social interactions or group outings revolve around food, excluding yourself from these can be very isolating.
So next time, before you give into the urge to snack:
- Give a friend a call
- Maybe invite someone over
- Indulge in quality family time
The idea is to spend some time with those important to you to keep those feelings of loneliness in check.
Lower calorie consumption while on a diet could lead to tiredness, and so can factors such as lack of sleep, dehydration, and overwork. Sleeping well - for at least seven hours a night - is of course the most straightforward way to combat this.
Other ways you can tackle this and avoid consuming extra calories is by:
- Consuming enough water
- Including more low-calorie, healthy, yet filling foods in your daily diet, such as eggs, oats, fish, and legumes
- Staying physically active to keep your energy levels up - be it dancing, yoga or running
We understand -- turning to food for comfort is only human
Sometimes all we need is a juicy burger and fries after a long, hard day. But if you find that more often than not, you’re eating for reasons that stem from feelings other than regular hunger.
It would be worth your while to take a holistic look at your lifestyle - what are the triggers that have you feeling the way you do? How can you navigate your feelings in ways that don’t involve bingeing?
Answering these questions could be the first step to a healthier relationship with yourself, and with food.
Credits - Chandni Haldurai, Nutrition Expert