6 tips to help stop emotional eating

If you find yourself eating to numb how you feel inside, not because you're actually hungry, you may be what's referred to as an "emotional eater". These 6 tips could help you get it under control.

6 tips to help stop emotional eating

1. Figure out your stress-eating triggers

Experts estimate that 75 per cent of overeating is due to emotions. Do you eat when you're angry? Bored? Lonely? At a party when you're feeling nervous? Pay attention to the situations that prompt you to reach for extra helpings or snacks.

  • Identifying your overeating triggers is the first step in fixing emotional eating problems.

2. Chat more, eat less

Never stand by the chips and mindlessly eat while you talk with other guests at a party. Instead of letting conversation lead you into mindless eating, let socializing be the centrepiece of your experience by staying far from the buffet.

  • When you arrive at a picnic or backyard barbeque, grab a low-calorie drink and scope out a great seat at a table filled with friends, family, or friendly strangers. This is your home base.
  • Only then should you approach the buffet table or grill with a purpose: Grab a plate, add carefully chosen foods and carry it back to your spot at the centre of the real fun.

3. Have more fun

When life is busy and your to-do list is long, it's easy to turn to food as quick entertainment and solace. In fact, you may be missing out on other healthy pleasures that would be more satisfying.

  • Make time for fun, and you may find you don't need that "fun pack" of cookies after all.

4. Tune in to your true hunger level

Before you take a bite, stop and rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 — with 1 meaning famished and 10 being totally stuffed, the way you'd feel after a big Thanksgiving dinner.

  • The time to eat is when you're at about 3.
  • The time to stop eating? When you're at 5 to 7 — feeling comfortably satisfied but not overly full.

If you're reaching for food when you're not at 3, pull back and remind yourself that it will be snack time, or mealtime, soon.

5. Get moving!

Physical activity cuts stress and pumps feel-good endorphins throughout your body while burning calories.

  • Make a new commitment to getting a half hour of activity most days of the week.
  • Great options include walking, exercising to aerobics DVDs, taking a class or doing strength training at a gym, or simply choosing active fun like hiking, bowling, swimming or skating.

6. Write in a journal

Paying attention to your feelings by writing them down is a powerful way to make yourself feel valued — and feel better — without resorting to sour-cream-and-onion chips.

  • Keep a "feelings" journal and pay attention to situations that lead to overeating.

Learning how to spot situations that trigger emotional eating habits and taking preventive steps is a positive move to address the situation. Just be mindful that although these six tips will help you towards a happier, healthier you, it's a good idea to seek the advice of a qualified healthcare professional for permanent, lasting results.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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