Understanding and Preventing Emotional Eating

Author: Shannon Miller

Think about any movie where a girl goes through a break-up.

What’s typically in the next scene after the break-up?  Probably the same girl sitting on the couch, watching television, eating ice cream right out of the tub.  The truth is, we have all been there…for one reason or another – we find ourselves chowing down when it’s not our stomach that’s hurting.

The key is to find out what those reasons are…they aren’t always as obvious as a broken heart!  The good news is that once you understand your emotional eating habits, you can better prevent them!

One way to understand your emotional eating is to keep a food diary.

For several days, keep track of what you eat and design your diary in such a way so that you can identify your emotional eating triggers. Answer questions about what you were doing while you were eating:

  • Was I watching a specific television show?
  • Was I listening to a specific song?
  • Was I bored?
  • Was I stressed?
  • Did I just have a conversation with a particular person?
  • Where was I while I was eating?

Once you identify these negative emotions that are associated with your emotional eating, you’ll be prepared the next time you experience them.

Avoid the kitchen and seek out an alternative activity like one of the following:

  • Go for a walk
  • Talk to someone or write down what is bothering you
  • Sit down and take some time to relax
  • Listen to music or read
  • Take a bubble bath
TIP:  Remember, even when it may not seem like it, you are strong!  Use your strength to take back control over your eating habits!

*The above information was adapted from the article “Do You Know Why You Eat” provided by the National Institutes of Health

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