Start Self Monitoring
The first step to getting control of an emotional eating problem is to recognize what causes you to eat in the first place. Ideally food should be consumed when you are hungry or need energy. However, people with emotional eating tendencies tend to eat when they are bored, angry, sad, nervous or any other host of various emotional states that have little to do with being hungry. Write down in a journal throughout the day what kinds of activities or situations cause you to eat.
A Diary Can Reveal Patterns
Keeping a diary of both your food intake and your emotional state is crucial to figuring out the link between your eating habits and your food. Write down what kinds of foods you tend to eat when you eat. Most people find carbohydrates or sweets to be especially gratifying when eating out of emotional necessity. Also, keep a general diary of your emotions and how you feel about yourself when you eat out of emotional need instead of hunger. Your diary entries might help you identify some important messages you are sending yourself about your habits.
Rethink Your Comfort Strategy
Finding a new way to comfort yourself when you are upset is a great way to curb an emotional eating habit. Often, individuals find that eating seems to provide a certain comfort to them in times of stress or upset. Therefore, finding a replacement for food in those situations can be a great first step in stopping the emotional eating trap. Instead of eating, ask a loved one for a hug, or take a nap or walk to refresh your body. Pick a healthy activity to replace eating and try it for a few days to see how well you respond.
Be Smart About Food
Keeping food in the house is obviously necessary to sustain life. However, people who emotionally eat often stock an arsenal of food that is not conducive to a healthy diet. Chips, cookies and soda are favorite friends of emotional eaters, so eliminating them from the food lineup is especially helpful in reorganizing your diet. Controlling the kinds of foods that enter your home and body is a crucial point in emotional eating work. Eliminate the trigger and you can often eliminate the problem.
Talk to Someone
Often emotional eating is a result of stuffing feelings that otherwise need an outlet. Many have often found that talking to someone–a spouse, friend, therapist or parent–can really help in releasing some of the anxiety otherwise dispelled by eating. Find someone you can trust and who is a good listener to just listen to you when you feel the urge to eat. It will do wonders to help you positively discharge emotions.
About this Author
Sterlin Mosley holds a bachelors degree in English writing and is currently pursuing masters degree in human relations where he focuses on counseling psychology. His research interests include personality psychology and mental health pathology. Sterlin’s hobbies include working out five days a week, and he has received 20 hours of personal trainer certification coursework.