Do you find yourself reaching for food when you're stressed, bored or tired? If so, you're probably an emotional eater. This unconscious act of "fixing" negative feelings through food can actually exaggerate the original problem and create a vicious cycle that is difficult to escape from. Emotional eating is a nasty habit, but fortunately, like most habits, you can overcome it. Check out these tips for tackling emotional eating.
1. I.D. your trigger
In order to break the cycle of emotional eating, you need to know the trigger behind it. You might find it helpful to keep a food diary in which you record what you have eaten and how you were feeling at the time -- emotional eaters typically experience stress, boredom or anger during a binge. This can be useful for pinpointing patterns and you might even notice that you reach for a particular type of comfort food when you are feeling a specific emotion.
2. Shop wisely
We tend to crave the sweet and/or high-fat (read: unhealthy) stuff like ice-cream and cookies when we're feeling stressed. If you know that you won't be able to resist these temptations, don't even buy them back in the first place. If they aren't around, you can't eat them!
3. Find healthier alternatives
When you do get the urge to eat when you're not hungry, find a healthier substitute for junk food. Check out our healthy snack swaps tool
for wholesome ideas!
4. Look for other distractions
Once you know the type of emotions that trigger your emotional eating, think of ways to deal with them that do not involve food. For instance, if you feel stressed, relax by taking a long warm bath instead of reaching for the tub of Ben & Jerry's. If you are not genuinely hungry, the moment will pass.
5. Re-think your portion
It's not realistic to avoid comfort foods completely -- the key is moderation. Just make sure that you only look to indulge in them in smaller portions. For example, instead of getting a large bag of chips, get a single-serving pack so you can avoid the temptation to eat more than one serving.