Weight Loss: Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is the practice of consuming large quantities of food -- usually "comfort" or junk foods -- in response to feelings instead of hunger. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions.
Many of us learn that food can bring comfort, at least in the short-term. As a result, we often turn to food to heal emotional problems. Eating becomes a habit preventing us from learning skills that can effectively resolve our emotional distress.
By identifying what triggers our emotional eating, we can substitute more appropriate techniques to manage our emotional problems and take food and weight gain out of the equation.
How to Identify Eating Triggers
Situations and emotions that trigger us to eat fall into five main categories.
To identify what triggers excessive eating in you, keep a food diary that records what and when you eat as well as what stressors, thoughts, or emotions you identify as you eat. You should begin to identify patterns to your excessive eating fairly quickly.
How to Stop Emotional Eating
Identifying emotional eating triggers and bad eating habits is the first step; however, this alone is not sufficient to alter eating behavior. Usually, by the time you have identified a pattern, eating in response to emotions or certain situations has become a habit. Now you have to break that habit.
Developing alternatives to eating is the second step. When you start to reach for food in response to an eating trigger, try one of the following activities instead.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/26/2012