Steps to Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating

Take a moment to think of the last time you found yourself eating because you were stressed out, exhausted, or worried. Did it help you get through the emotions you were experiencing? Perhaps it did, for the moment. But eating does not solve the problems that caused that emotion in the first place. Besides, you may feel guilty later because of the excess calories you consumed, and may be worried about the effects on your blood sugar levels. The next time you feel like “stuffing” yourself with food because you are upset, frustrated, bored, sad, or lonely, try this instead:

Write it down.

Write a bullet point list of all the things that are making you feel the way you are feeling, and then write down possible solutions for each one.

Go for a walk.

Head to a place that helps you calm down. Listening to the waves at the beach or feeling the wind and sunshine in the park may help you relax.

Put on some tranquil music, or sit in silence, and close your eyes.

Breathe in deeply through your nose, and out slowly through your mouth. Focus on staying in the present and concentrating on your breath. This doesn’t have to be long, even a 5 minute meditation can help you feel centered and calm.

Call or visit a friend or family member.

You could get a load off your chest just by talking about it. If no one is available to listen, write in your journal as if speaking to a friend. It feels great just to let it out!

Try something new.

Work on an art project or puzzle you have been meaning to try, browse new music online, or crack open a new book. Enjoying something new can help boost your mood.

You don’t have to go to the gym or embark on a long run - if you like intense exercise sessions, that’s great. If you don’t, focus on activities that you do genuinely enjoy, not those you think you should be doing. You could ride your bike around the neighborhood, go dancing, try out a yoga class at the park, or pop in an exercise video to follow from the comfort of your home. Daily lifestyle activities like gardening or mopping count too! Most important get moving and discover ways to avoid skipping your work out routine!

Take a bath.

Relaxing in a tub of warm water can be extremely soothing. Physically cleaning your body can help you feel refreshed and cleansed mentally as well. Splurge by adding some Epsom salts or essential oils to your bath for even more pampering goodness. After your bath, you can even try body brushing to stimulate your skin and get your blood and lymph flowing.Take a deep breath. Breathing exercises can help calm your emotions significantly. The great thing about breathing is that you can do it anywhere! This can be done while meditating as well. Take a long, deep breath, pulling the air deep into your belly. Try to stretch your inhale for 10 or 15 seconds, then breathe out through your mouth just as slowly. Repeat 3 to 5 times, or until you feel a wave of calm wash over you.Practice Gratitude. Think about the qualities you like about yourself, inside and out. Reflect on the blessings you have in your life. Maybe you have the ability to make people laugh or smile, beautiful hair, a supportive friend, a beautiful home, or a safe neighborhood. Practicing gratitude can help put those emotions in perspective so you don’t turn to consuming excess food that doesn't serve your health goals.Remember, it takes time to create new habits! When you do take a misstep forgive yourself and get back on track. Over time each substitute behavior you replace for emotional eating will slowly begin to build a new healthier lifestyle, one that will lead towards a happier you.

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