Overcoming Emotional Eating

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A great, large, colorful icecream with a colorful background.

Emotional eating is using food to make you feel better — eating to satisfy emotional needs rather than physical hunger. You might reach for a pint of ice cream when you are feeling down, order pizza when you are lonely or swing by the drive-through after a stressful day.

When you feel stressed, down or bored, try the following tips to avoid emotional eating:

Phone a friend. When you feel overwhelmed or stressed, try calling or texting a friend before you dig into your favorite snack. Being able to talk to someone you care about can help you sort out your emotions before the emotional eating happens.

The waiting game. When craving a snack, try waiting 10 to 15 minutes. Listen to your hunger cues, after the time is up, reevaluate whether you’re still hungry or if the craving is gone.

Quality over quantity. Don’t cut your favorite snacks altogether. This kind of deprivation may lead to binge eating which can make you feel guilty or more stressed. Instead, try cutting the serving size in half.

Mindful eating. From the time it takes you to prepare your food to consume it — be mindful. Notice the satisfaction you feel when you choose to become aware of the nourishment and enjoyment your food brings. Slowing down will help you recognize hunger cues and when you’ve eaten enough.

Dealing with emotions can be challenging, especially when emotional eating is a habit for you. No matter how powerless you feel over your emotions, it is possible to make positive changes. You can find healthier ways to cope and put emotional eating to rest.