Outsmart Emotional Eating and Break a Weight Plateau!

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Dear HG,

I'm definitely an emotional eater. When I'm having a bad day, all I want to do is eat. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this?

Emotional Emily

Hi Emily,

While I'm generally not an emotional eater, I do know a lot about the subject. Many people turn to food for comfort when they feel sad, bored, stressed, angry, etc. Since emotional eating has little to do with actual hunger, being aware of it when it's happening is the first step in outsmarting it. Here are some more tips and tricks...

Get to the root of the problem. Instead of heading to the kitchen or drive-thru, reach out to a friend to talk about what's bugging you. Good pals make great listeners! If it's too late to call or you're not comfortable opening up, try journaling. Writing about whatever's on your mind can be really helpful when it comes to getting past negative feelings.

Find a healthy alternative for dealing with emotions. Go for a walk, or turn to some other form of physical activity. Another idea? Pick up a book or magazine. These are great ways to clear your head and help get you out of a funk. And the more you practice turning to these alternatives, the easier it will be to avoid the call of food.

Try water, tea, or another smart sipper. If you can't kick the sensation that you need to consume something, drink water, hot tea, or a sugar-free beverage. I find that hot tea (or even warm/hot water) with lemon is very calming.

Go for better-for-you food swaps. If you've tried all of the above and still can't break the emotional-eating cycle, making smarter choices when you do give in is a step in the right direction. Many people turn to fattening foods for comfort -- things like potato chips and ice cream. Then they feel guilty afterward, which only makes the cycle worse. So if you're gonna eat, treat yourself to something guilt-free (literally). For a salty snack fix, have a 100-calorie bag of 94% fat-free microwave popcorn or some seaweed snacks (LOVE these!). For a sweet treat, have portion-controlled light ice cream (like the individual containers by Skinny Cow) or a VitaTop (all-natural, 100 calories, and PACKED with fiber!). It's a good idea to stick to single-serving snacks, since it can be easy to overdo it when you're feeling emotional. Sometimes crunchy foods are especially helpful when I'm feeling emotional. I typically go for baby carrots or jicama. You can crunch away on those to your heart's content!

For more about emotional eating, click here and here to see segments from an episode of The Dr. Oz Show in which the doc and I discuss this very subject. Hope this helps!

Dear Hungry Girl,

I've lost 40 pounds, which I'm totally excited about! But last month I hit a plateau, and the number on the scale won't budge. Any tips for getting out of the rut?

Plateaued in Pittsburg

Hey Plateaued,

First of all, congratulations on the weight loss so far! Hitting a plateau is really common. However, I have a bunch of tips to help get you back on track with your weight loss!

Reevaluate your calorie needs. The smaller your body gets, the fewer calories it needs to maintain or lose weight. (Not fair, but true!) So if you're taking in the same number of calories as when you started losing weight (40 pounds heavier), there's a good chance it's contributing to the stall in your weight loss. Click here for a calculator that can help you determine your ideal calorie intake for continued weight loss.

Go back to basics. Measure and weigh out your portions to make sure you're accurately counting calories. And break out a food journal to make sure you're not overlooking the occasional extras here and there.

Add some exercise to your routine. If you're already working out, take it to the next level. Increase the length of your workouts or step up the intensity. If you haven't been exercising, now's a great time to start! Pick up a workout DVD, or call up a friend to join you for daily jogs or brisk walks.

Switch up your food. Try eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and less packaged stuff. Also eat at home more often. Both of these tactics are smart because they lower the chances of consuming excess calories. Packaged foods can be as much as 20 percent off in their calorie counts (mom-and-pop companies are less reliable than big-name brands), and you never really know exactly how many calories are in your restaurant meal (it depends on the person making it).

Click here for TONS more weight-loss tips and tricks. Good luck, and let me know how it works out for you!

Emotional eating and weight-loss plateaus are pretty common... Help a friend out, and click "Send to a Friend" NOW!


Today, July 17th, is National Peach Ice Cream Day. Celebrate by grilling up some peach halves, and topping 'em with a scoop of light vanilla ice cream!

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