By making better food choices, you may be able to manage compulsive eating behaviors and weight gain. You can also experience feelings of calmness, high energy levels or alertness from the foods you eat.
What we eat affects how we feel. Food should make us feel good. It tastes great and nourishes our bodies. If you eat too little or eat too much, however, your health and quality of life could be affected. This can result in negative feelings toward food.
By learning how to make healthier and more mindful choices, you may be able to manage compulsive eating, binging and weight gain. By taking charge of your appetite, you may also gain a feeling of calm, high energy levels and alertness from the foods you eat.
Overall, there are many benefits to changing deep-seated, unhealthy eating habits, such as:
While we often have the best intentions to eat healthier, this is often a challenging task.
Experts believe many factors can influence our feelings about food and our eating behaviors. These factors include:
Many people use food as a coping mechanism to deal with such feelings as stress, boredom or anxiety, or even to prolong feelings of joy. While this may help in the short term, eating to soothe and ease your feelings often leads to regret and guilt, and can even increase the negative feelings. You aren't actually coping with the problem causing the stress. Further, your self-image may suffer as you gain weight, or you may experience other undesired effects on your health, such as elevated blood sugars, cholesterol levels or blood pressure.
Psychology is the science of behavior. It is the study of how and why people do what they do. For people trying to manage their weight, psychology addresses:
Cognitive behavioral treatment is the approach most often used because it deals with both thinking patterns and behavior. Some areas that are addressed through cognitive behavioral treatment include:
Cognitive therapy addresses how you think about food. It helps you recognize self-defeating patterns of thinking that can undermine your success at eating healthier and managing your weight/weight loss. It also helps you learn and practice using positive coping self-statements.
Examples of self-defeating thoughts include:
Examples of positive coping self-statements include:
To lose weight, it’s helpful to change your thinking. Weight management is about making a lifestyle change. It's not going to happen if you rely on short-term diet after diet to lose weight.
To be successful, be aware of the role that eating plays in your life, and learn how to use positive thinking and behavioral coping strategies to manage your eating and your weight.
To help get you started, here are a few tips:
Tips for healthy eating
A food diary is a tool to record in detail:
The diary can help you get a better understanding of what you eat and why you eat it. It also can help your doctor, therapist, or dietitian work with you to make the necessary changes for successful weight management.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/24/2020.
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