October 11, 2009
Understanding emotional eating and the triggers are just the first part. Now it’s time to break those habits. When you start to reach for food in response to an eating trigger, try one of the following activities instead.
Look elsewhere for comfort. Instead of unwrapping a candy bar, take a walk, treat yourself to a movie, listen to music, read or call a friend. If you think that stress relating to a particular event is nudging you toward the refrigerator, try talking to someone about it to distract yourself. Plan enjoyable events for yourself.
Don’t keep unhealthy foods around. Avoid having an abundance of high-calorie comfort foods in the house. If you feel hungry or blue, postpone the shopping trip for a few hours so that these feelings don’t influence your decisions at the store.
Snack healthy. If you feel the urge to eat between meals, choose a low-fat, low-calorie food, such as fresh fruit, vegetables with fat-free dip or unbuttered popcorn. Or test low-fat, lower calorie versions of your favorite foods to see if they satisfy your craving.
Eat a balanced diet. If you’re not getting enough calories to meet your energy needs, you may be more likely to give in to emotional eating. Try to eat at fairly regular times and don’t skip breakfast. Include foods from the basic groups in your meals. Emphasize whole grains, vegetables and fruits, as well as low-fat dairy products and lean protein sources. When you fill up on the basics, you’re more likely to feel fuller, longer.
Exercise regularly and get adequate rest. Your mood is more manageable and your body can more effectively fight stress when it’s fit and well rested.
Try alternative healthy strategies. Sometimes simply distracting yourself from eating and developing alternative habits is not enough to manage the emotional distress that leads to excessive eating. To more effectively cope with emotional stress, try relaxation exercises, meditation, and individual or group counseling.
These techniques address the underlying emotional problems which are causing you to binge and teach you to cope in more effective and healthier ways.
For more information on these techniques, contact your doctor.
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