How to Stop Emotional Eating

Learn the Difference Between Physical and Emotional Hunger
  • Emotional hunger can develop suddenly, or it can be an accumulation of your day: snubbed by a colleague, betrayed by a friend, leaving your reluctant child at daycare, losing a business contract. At the end of the day all you want to do is mindlessly eat a bag of chips, tub of ice cream or crates of take-out Chinese food – and stare at the tv.
  • Emotional eaters don't listen to their bodies. To stop emotional eating, you must tune in to the cues.
  • Emotional hunger isn't related to time. That is, you can feel emotionally hungry in the middle of the night, at three in the afternoon, or during the Late Show. Emotional eaters may mindlessly eat more at non-mealtimes than at mealtimes.
  • Emotional hunger – and emotional eating – often leads to feelings of guilt and shame. You could stop emotional eating if you deal with those feelings.
  • Emotional eaters don't feel content or pleasantly satisfied after they eat. They feel sick.
  • Emotional eaters still feel empty after they've eaten. To stop emotional eating, you must learn to satisfy your emotional hunger other ways.

Tips to Stop Emotional Eating:

  • Learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger, which is the difference between eating to fill a physical need and eating emotionally.
  • Eat slowly and listen to your body for clues that you're physically satisfied.
  • Don't eat mindlessly in front of the tv.
  • Don't deprive yourself of foods you love – just don't overdo it.
  • Don't eat in bed or on the sofa. Eat at the kitchen table. Stop emotional eating by eating in the same place all the time.
  • Treat your body with respect: nourish it, move it around, listen to it, and pamper it. Tune in to your body to stop emotional eating.
  • Look for connections between the events in your day and your cravings for food. Identify the triggers that push you over the line and make you want to eat mindlessly (eg, fights with your partner or child).
  • Deal with your triggers. If you can't cut them from your life entirely, find better ways to cope with your feelings. Eating mindlessly makes things worse.

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