5 Ways to Stop Emotional Eating

May 10 2017
Question@2x Dear Hungry Girl,

I am a total emotional eater. I eat when I'm stressed, sad, angry... You name it! Do you have any advice on how I can stop this habit?

Emo Eater
Answer@2x Hi Emo Eater,

You're not alone. Emotional eating is extremely common. In fact, the emotional eating discussion on our first Hungry Girl Cruise was one of the most popular panels, with emotional eaters sharing what's helped them overcome it. Here are five strategies you can start using today to kick that habit to the curb...

Identify your emotions. First things first: Figure out what feelings are driving you to eat. When you find yourself about to reach for food, ask yourself if you're truly hungry or if you're just looking for comfort. If it's the latter, try to identify the feeling that's behind your need to feed. Are you anxious? Lonely? Frustrated?

Pick up a pen. Once you've determined the underlying emotion, put your feelings down on paper (or just grab your phone, and type a note to yourself). It can be cathartic to write about what's bugging you, and it could give you that comfort you're really after. Bonus? If you're annoyed with someone, you can vent about it privately... much smarter than lashing out or eating over it!

Find a better coping mechanism. Once you know what emotions are causing you to crave food, you can figure out tactics to combat them. For example, if you eat when you're lonely, call a pal to talk or grab coffee with one. If stress is a trigger, try a calming activity like coloring (I love this Nickelodeon-themed coloring book!) or popping in a yoga DVD.

Don't beat yourself up if you do some emotional eating. Be kind to yourself! We all slip up and make mistakes. By being tough on yourself, more negative emotions will boil up, leading you right back to where you started. It's time to end this vicious cycle! Give your inner self a hug, and get right back on track.

Remove temptation. Don't make it easy for yourself to go on an emotional binge. If you know you can eat an entire cake in one sitting, keep that junk out of the house. If crunchy snacks like chips and pretzels are your downfall, ban 'em. Keep a stash of healthier indulgences, like fresh fruit (when you're craving sweets) and cut veggies with salsa (when you need to crunch). This way, even if your emotions do lead you to eat, the damage will be minimal.

You've got this!
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