June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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How Do I Break the Yo-Yo Diet Trap?

I have been trying to lose weight for some time, and have had some success, but could do better. I am one of those people that have yo-yo weight issues. I do well for a while, feel good about myself, success, then suddenly, I mess up by eating horribly. When this “mess up” occurs, I cannot stop noshing on pretzels, potato chips, ice cream, cookies etc…nothing on the weight loss diet list! Afterwards, I feel guilty, sorry and angry at myself because I blew it. To boot, at times, I put on weight that I worked hard to lose. It really upsets me to know that I was doing so well and lost control. I cannot believe myself, I feel self-defeated and honestly, this is a trend of mine. Can you suggest what I can do to help fix this bad noshing behavior?


Trend Nosher

Dear Trend Nosher,

What you seem to be describing are “Emotional Eating Episodes,” You seem to do well on your diet and weight loss regimen, and then something prompts you “suddenly” to have the desire to eat large quantities of food items that can be calorically high, causing undesirable weight gain. In addition, you are left with painful feelings such as; guilt, sorrow, anguish and frustration.


“Emotional Eating” is the consumption of food when truly not physically hungry but done to distract one from dealing with life issues that require attention and resolving.


Emotional eating behavior is often done to soothe, seek comfort or suppress feelings that are bothersome, such as stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness, anger, boredom and even for reward. Relationship conflicts, stressful work situations, fatigue, financial pressures and health problems can trigger negative feelings. Some people resort to eating large quantities of foods, often high in calories and low in essential nutrients, when not physically hungry. No matter the reason, the end result is always temporary, and can be cyclical. Unresolved problems—trigger negative feelings—unhealthy overeating response—weight gain—feeling badly about self—cycle starts again.

What To Do?

1. Keep a Food Diary. Write down what you eat, time of day /night, how much you have eaten. Note feelings involved and actual hunger. Search for a pattern that reveals the connection between mood and food.

2. Calm Stress. Stress contributes to emotional eating. Try yoga, meditation or deep breathing as ways of managing stressful feelings.

3. Hunger Reality Check. Decipher between true physical hunger and “emotional hunger.” If you ate a decent meal a short while ago, you are probably not physically hungry, rather, just feeling hungry due to emotions. Give the “craving feeling” time to subside, and stay away from the kitchen and pantry.

4. Get Support. Lean on friends, family, and /or join a support group. It helps to not feel alone in an endeavor.

5. Fight Boredom: Instead of snacking out of boredom, take a walk, listen to music, watch a movie, read or surf the internet—distract yourself.

6. Avoid Temptation. Do not keep hard-to-resist comfort foods in your home. If you feel upset in any way, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you feel the emotions subside.

7. Don’t Deprive Yourself. Overly harsh caloric restriction and repetitious diet regimens lead to cravings. Consume a variety of healthy food selections in reasonable portion sizes and allow for an occasional treat.

8. Snack Healthy: Between meals, select healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables with lowfat dip, unbuttered popcorn and low calorie “fun” items available on the market.

9. Lessons From Setbacks: If you have a setback of emotional eating, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Try to learn from the experience and plan how to avoid the situation in the future. Focus on the positive changes you’ve made in your diet and give yourself credit for making changes that will lead to better health.

10. Seek Professional Help: If you have tried self help strategies but still struggle with emotional eating, consider seeking professional assistance. A dietician can help you understand reasons for your emotional eating, strategize ways to control this behavior, help you learn coping skills and support your endeavor to ensure success.

Food For Thought

Emotional eating is complicated. There are many reasons people use food as a way to relieve emotional pain. It is a learned behavior and habit forming. Some people lapse into a mindless trance when emotional binging/eating, not even enjoying the food being consumed. A professional dietician can help you learn to control this destructive behavior and discover if you have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are serious medical illnesses that require a high level of care. If you have an emotional eating problem and are struggling, Nutrition Transformations is here to help you. At Nutrition Transformations, we help you develop healthy relationships with food that assure good health and well-being, and alleviate destructive emotional eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, weight and life.

Yours in good health,




*See my new Jewish Holiday Blog- “Holiday Weight Challenges”

*See my new Autumn Holiday Special Package

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