Dieting and Emotional Eating


Dieting is the act of restricting the types and amount of food a person consumes to achieve a desired weight loss. The word is often used to describe an attempt to lose body fat, but it can also refer to any number of other nutritional strategies. Most people who diet do so with the intent of losing excess weight, but dieting can also be used to manage other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Regardless of the goal, all dieters experience some form of restriction from time to time.

Diets vary widely in the amount of restriction they impose, but most involve limiting the intake of fats, carbohydrates and proteins that are necessary sources of energy. All diets produce a temporary loss of water and muscle due to the early loss of energy, and the rate at which fat is lost depends on the size of the caloric deficit, the type of diet and the metabolic response of the individual.

Many individuals who are dieting experience some form of emotional eating, which can result from the stress and pressures of everyday life or from an underlying mental disorder such as depression or anxiety. Emotional eating often takes the form of overeating or binge eating, and it can be a major precursor to disordered eating and obesity. It’s important to address any underlying causes of emotional eating before trying to lose weight.

One of the most common ways to manage stress and reduce the tendency to eat emotionally is to be more mindful of the foods you’re eating. The practice of paying attention to your food and chewing each bite slowly can help you savor your meal and slow down the pace at which you eat. Eating in a quiet environment without distractions can also be helpful.

Another way to control stress and emotional eating is to avoid processed, packaged and fast foods that are high in saturated and trans fats. Instead, choose nutrient-rich whole grains and low-saturated fat meats and dairy products. Increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables and decreasing the intake of added sugars will help you feel better while improving your health.

Finally, it’s important to be patient with yourself when dieting. Trying to lose weight too quickly can set you up for failure. Repeated diet failure leads to guilt and self-blame, irritability and fatigue, and it can contribute to a decreased sense of personal power.

If you’re looking for a new diet, try to find one that has a track record of success and is compatible with your lifestyle and goals. Think about the different diets you’ve tried in the past and what made or didn’t work for you. Make a list of your preferences, lifestyle and weight-loss goals to help you pick a plan that will suit you. Ultimately, the best diet is the one you can stick with long term. Changing your eating habits to include a variety of nutritious foods and regular physical activity can leave you feeling healthy, happy and free from the pressures of fad dieting.