How to Deal With the Cause of Your Emotional Eating

Do high-stress situations send you straight for the fridge? If you think the solution to a problem with your boss can be found at the bottom of a pint of ice cream, then pay attention. Food is not the solution to whatever it is that is making you feel sad, angry, pressured, or anxious. In fact, unhealthy, emotional eating leads to weight gain and self-loathing. The key to stopping this kind of eating is to identify and understand your triggers. One way to start is to keep a journal or use your online Food Diary to record not only what you eat but how you feel when you eat it. Then you have to work on dealing with your emotions — without food. To break the self-destructive cycle of emotional eating, you have to create awareness and then implement a game plan. Here's how:

Before you eat anything, I want you to ask yourself two questions: Are you hungry? And are you depressed or anxious? Then ask the following question: Can you find an appropriate way to address whatever emotions you've uncovered instead of suppressing them?

For example, if you had an argument with your mother, can you call her and talk it through? If you're feeling anxious about a work- or school-related deadline, can you break down the work into manageable parts, so that each time you finish a part you'll feel more on top of it? If you can address the emotion in the moment by acting on it directly and positively, seize the opportunity to do so.

Using food as an anesthetic is easy in the short term but extremely detrimental in the long term. Looking problems in the eye is difficult, but once you begin to probe beneath your behavior and analyze your feelings, it gets easier and easier.

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