Emotional Eating: Feeding Your Feelings (cont.)

Managing Emotional Eating

Here are a few tips to help you deal with emotional eating:

  • Recognize emotional eating and learn what triggers this behavior in you.
  • Make a list of things to do when you get the urge to eat and you're not hungry, and carry it with you, according to the Tufts Nutrition web site. When you feel overwhelmed, you can put off that desire by doing another enjoyable activity.
  • Try taking a walk, calling a friend, playing cards, cleaning your room, doing laundry, or something productive to take your mind off the craving -- even taking a nap, according to the Tufts Nutrition web site.
  • When you do get the urge to eat when you're not hungry, find a comfort food that's healthy instead of junk food. "Comfort foods don't need to be unhealthy," says Wansink.
  • For some, leaving comfort foods behind when they're dieting can be emotionally difficult. Wansink tells WebMD, "The key is moderation, not elimination." He suggests dividing comfort foods into smaller portions. For instance, if you have a large bag of chips, divide it into smaller containers or baggies and the temptation to eat more than one serving can be avoided.
  • When it comes to comfort foods that aren't always healthy, like fattening desserts, Wansink also offers this piece of information: "Your memory of a food peaks after about four bites, so if you only have those bites, a week later you'll recall it as just a good experience than if you polished off the whole thing." So have a few bites of cheesecake, then call it quits, and you'll get equal the pleasure with lower cost.

Lastly, remember that emotional eating is something that most people do when they're bored, happy, or sad. It might be a bag of chips or a steak, but whatever the food choice, learning how to control it and using moderation are key.


SOURCES: Brian Wansink, PhD, consumer psychologist; marketing and nutritional science professor; director, Food and Brand Lab, University of Illinois. Jane Jakubczak, registered dietitian, University of Maryland. American Demographics, July 2000. Physiology & Behavior, 2003. University of Texas. Tufts University. Food and brand Lab, University of Illinois.


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Last Editorial Review: 7/8/2005 9:13:25 PM