Weight loss: 9 ways to avoid throwing yourself on food when mood is low

Are your emotions controlling your eating habits? Take back control with these ideas.

Sometimes the strongest food cravings occur when you are at your lowest emotional level. You can turn to food for comfort, consciously or unconsciously, when you’re facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed, or just looking to keep yourself busy.

Emotional eating can sabotage your weight loss efforts by causing you to overeat, especially high-calorie, sugary, and fatty foods. But the good news is that if you’re prone to eating emotionally, you can take steps to regain control of your eating habits. This will help get you back on track to your weight loss goals.

To help you stop eating for emotional reasons, try these 9 tips:

1 Control your stress

If stress is contributing to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique, such as yoga, meditation, or relaxation.

2 Do a hunger reality check

Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate only a few hours ago and your stomach isn’t rumbling, you’re probably not really hungry. Give the urge to eat some time to pass.

3 Keep a food diary

Write down what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how you feel when you eat, and if you are hungry. Over time, you may see patterns appear that reveal the connection between mood and food.

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4 Get support

You’re more likely to give in to emotional eating if you don’t have a good support network. Lean on your family and friends or consider joining a support group.

5 Fight boredom

Instead of snacking when you’re not really hungry, distract yourself. Go for a walk, watch a movie, play with your cat, listen to music, read, surf the Internet or call a friend.

6 Remove Temptation

Don’t keep stashes of comfort food at home if you find it hard to resist. And if you’re feeling angry or depressed, postpone your trip to the supermarket until you’re sure you’ve got your emotions under control.

7 Do not deprive yourself

When trying to achieve a weight loss goal, you may over-restrict calories, eat the same foods frequently, and banish the treats you love. This can only increase your food cravings, especially in response to your emotions. Indulge in a little treat once in a while and stock up on variety to help curb your cravings.

8 Healthy snack

If you feel the need to eat between meals, opt for a low-fat, low-calorie snack, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with a light sauce. Or try low-calorie, low-fat versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.

9 Learn from failures

If you have an emotional eating episode, forgive yourself and start over the next day…or the next moment. Try to learn from this experience and make a plan to prevent it in the future. Focus on making positive changes to your eating habits and taking credit for making changes that will lead to better health.

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If you’ve tried self-help solutions but still can’t control your emotional eating, consider therapy with a mental health professional. Therapy can help you understand the motivations for your emotional eating and teach you new coping techniques. Therapy can also help you find out if you have an eating disorder, which is sometimes at the root of emotional eating.


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