6 Tips to Stop Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is defined by a person eating to soothe hurt emotions or to deal with a stressful situation. The foods are typically higher in fat and calories than normally consumed. Emotional eating may take place after a rough day at work or after an argument with a loved one.

The first step to stop emotional eating is to be mindful and check in on your emotional state throughout the day. Holding in and piling negative or hurtful emotions will lead to a later binge. Ask yourself several times during the day how you are feeling to avoid a large amount of stress. Also, stopping throughout the day to evaluate your feelings may help you pause before reaching for harmful foods.

The second step is to avoid triggers. Think back to the last time you participated in emotional eating. What happened right before you had the urge to eat? Do you remember not being hungry and eating anyway? Do you often eat after a stressful meeting at work or after a confrontation with a co-worker? Identifying and avoiding the events that lead to the emotional eating will help prevent future occurrences.

Find Ways to Distract Yourself
Thirdly, consider doing something else when the urge to eat strikes. If eating fattening foods makes you feel comfortable and relaxed, create a list of other activities that lead to the same good feelings. Exercise would be a good activity to keep on the list but try taking a warm bath, reading a good book or watching your favorite movie. Keep the list of activities on your refrigerator so you will be reminded of alternative ideas should a weakness occur.

Journaling is another effective way to prevent emotional eating. Keeping track of thoughts, anxieties, worries and emotions throughout the day will help you identify triggers. After you have kept a list for a few days, look back for common feelings that made you eat emotionally. Recurring events such as work stress may lead you to make healthier decisions such as finding a new job or avoiding circumstances that make you feel negatively.

Another tip for curbing emotional eating is to cut your portions in half. If you have had a stressful day and make a meal for yourself, put half sized portions on your plate and evaluate how you feel after you have finished. If you are still hungry, eat more but if you are feeling bad and looking to the food for comfort, take a moment to recognize your motives. Assessing your hunger levels with your emotional state will prevent overeating. Avoid comfort foods such as complex carbohydrates and fatty dressings. These foods simply cover negative feelings and may not give you any satisfaction once the meal is over. Remember to eat slowly and drink plenty of water during your meal. Recognize when you are full and stop once you are.

Be Kind to Yourself
Finally, if you do give in to emotional eating, forgive yourself. If you continue to be negative about your choices, you are only welcoming more stress and the opportunity to eat emotionally again. Poor eating habits take years to develop and will not be preventable overnight. Work towards small goals and reward yourself with something other than food when you celebrate.

Following these tips will aid you in feeling better and losing weight. Identifying patterns in your eating habits and eliminating the negative triggers will give you a more conscious approach to your lifestyle. Partner up with a friend for support and keep journaling.

You are now on your way to finding solutions to emotional eating. You can further benefit by using the easy weight loss tool Dr. Barnett has created Easy Weight Loss with Positive Aspects EFT.

Deborah Barnett holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, CA. Some of the techniques she incorporates in her work with clients include EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Positive Psychology, and The Law of Attraction. Dr. Barnett offers phone sessions and teleclasses.




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