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3 Steps to Stop Eating Your Feelings

by Natalie Shay
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Have you been so busy with work and the kids that you haven’t eaten healthy?

Had such a stressful day you went home and ate a box of cookies or bag of chips? Sometimes eating has very little to do with your actual hunger and is directly related to emotional triggers. Our emotions can have a powerful influence on our actions, especially eating. Many parents use food to self medicate. 

These are the three most important ways to stop emotional eating:


Become aware of your true hunger signals.


Establish what emotions are driving you to eat.


Learn to stop punishing yourself every time you eat something you are trying to avoid.


Become aware of your true hunger signals

First, drink a glass of water before a meal. This will help you see if you are dehydrated and need to hydrate, or if it is true hunger that you’re feeling. It is important to learn to only eat when you are truly hungry. The goal is not to eat until you are so full you cannot move or get to the point where you are so hungry you want to eat everything in sight.

Become aware of exactly which emotions drive you to eating

Next, notice which emotions you experience at each meal, before and after you eat. Are you bored? Sad? Angry? Lonely? Learn which emotion you are feeling, because often it is hard to be able to tell. When you try this, be honest with yourself without being hard on yourself. Remember, building self-awareness and self-esteem is the first step!

Learn to stop punishing yourself every time you eat something that you are trying to avoid.

Finally, try to be aware of the negative messages you send to yourself and make a commitment to no longer beat yourself up. The easiest way to start this challenging task is to spend a week writing down your negative thoughts about yourself. Throughout this process, you need to be patient and honest. Research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that improving body image can enhance the effectiveness of weight-loss programs based on diet and exercise. Positive self-talk is not only good for the soul; it’s also great for the waistline.

Each of these exercises should take no more then 5 minutes. They key is to write down exactly how you are feeling at the moment, without thinking about it or editing yourself. Remember, although food feels like your enemy at times, you have brought it into your life as a coping mechanism. It helped you to get to where you are today. Once you become aware of your actions, you will see how simple it is to break old patterns and free yourself from emotional eating.

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