Trying to lose weight? Try detoxing your emotions first

There’s a reason why we head for the treats when we feel down – food gives many of us instant comfort. A delicious treat can take-away from the difficult challenges we face every day. It’s an escape we can control and predict. And to an anxious mind – this can be enough for us to head straight for the worst kinds of food.

This is simply a coping mechanism. When difficult feelings like sadness, fear, anxiety, or self-doubt crop up, it’s difficult to ignore things that will make us feel instantly better, or at least distracted.

But what about the emotions that are causing us to head straight for foods that will, in the long run, make us feel even worse?

If these are the sources, why are we not focussing our effort more directly on understanding them? It sounds simple, but it never is. It is right not to wallow in negative states, but most people choose to ignore their feelings or to push them away.

The most popular way of doing this is with food. We think we are stuffing food when we are really stuffing emotions. Pushing away difficult thoughts and feelings that we don’t want to deal with right now. They can come later. And unfortunately, this can be the most difficult form of weight to lose.

Relying on comfort food is worse than a bad diet

Have you ever stopped to think about how this food makes you feel? Relying on it to comfort you during times of serious stress can create habits that are negatively impacting your overall health.

Food is a little like alcohol. You reach for it because you want to change your state of mind. As you consume it, you do feel differently, but you are not eating because you are hungry. You may then constantly graze to keep the feelings pushed down and you end up changing your natural hunger cycle.

This then has the potential to disrupt your metabolic rate and means your natural ability to know when to eat and how much to eat to maintain a good body shape is lost. And that’s not all.

When you are in an emotional state you are producing higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and when cortisol is higher, our body changes the way it processes food.

In simple terms: it transforms more foods into fat. That fat is generally stored around the liver and this is the biggest cause of the ‘pear-shaped – fat around the middle’ body shape.

Why losing weight can be so difficult

Those negative thoughts and feelings you at the start of all of this are real physical molecules. They are called neuro-peptides are they are stored in the fat tissues. So when you start to lose weight there’s a reason why you may experience painful emotions and upsets as you do it – you are releasing those neuro-peptides.

This is why many of us go back to overeating to keep those feelings squashed down. It’s why we YoYo on our diets and fundamentally never make any consistent, healthy changes – our emotions come first. After all – they are why we are here in the first place, right?

Why we need to emotionally detox more than we need to diet

Over time we accumulate difficult thoughts and feelings that affect the relationship we have with ourselves. Detoxing from these is essential to a happier existence and can help us create incredibly positive habits.

But if you don’t get these difficult thoughts and feelings out of your body, not only will you be carrying extra weight, you will also see it affect your overall levels of happiness.

This is because stress and sadness, in a way, clogs your system. It brings you down and leaves you vulnerable – which often then leads to more overeating and more weight.

This tends to cause a horrible paradox. Your weight gain leads to a greater frustration with yourself, and you already have a strained self-relationship due to the challenges that got you here in the first place. This added stress due to being overweight is more likely to help you gain weight than lose it.

We are not facing a diet problem, but an unhappiness problem.

The most unhealthy aspect of squashing your emotions with food is that you ignore the message within the unhappiness. Negative emotions are actually signposts that can point you and your life in a better direction.

If you ignore the feelings, you miss the important message – and that’s the key to a happier existence. Understanding and overcoming the emotional challenges we all face every day is like learning how to use a compass – you can always find a safe, healthy route to a solution.