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Getting Over Overeating

5 ways to help break the emotional eating cycle

Breaking The Cycle continued...

2. Buddy up. Stop by our community boards and find yourself a buddy if you don't already have one in your life. A supportive person is absolutely necessary when you're coping with the challenges of emotional eating and weight loss. Let friends and family provide you with the comfort you sought in food. Try to have at least three people you can talk to and lean on when times are tough.

3. Develop a routine. Eat three meals a day, or six small meals if that's what you prefer. The important thing is to find what works for your life and stick to it. A regimen of regular meals and planned snacks will minimize impulsive eating and help you to realize there is a time and a place to eat. Practice eating only at mealtimes and during planned snack times until this becomes a habit. (It's always a good idea to refrain from eating after dinner.)

4. Keep a journal. Track your emotions to determine what triggers your overeating. Jot down how you are feeling when you get the urge to splurge. Where are you? Who are you with? What are your thoughts? Your journal will provide clues to the reasons for your eating behavior.

5.Substitutes for food. Make a list of things you would enjoy doing instead of eating. Ideally, these should be activities that distract you while burning calories. But even if you choose to read a book, that's better than mindless eating. Keep your list handy, and when you start to reach for food in response to one of your triggers, try one of your activities instead. Your activities might include:

  • Rent a movie.
  • Call a friend.
  • Go online to our community message boards and chat with friends.
  • Treat yourself to a new CD.
  • Read a good book or magazine.
  • Go outside and take a walk.
  • Soak in a bubble bath.
  • Sign up for a yoga or Pilates class.
  • Learn the art of deep-breathing exercises.
  • Do a little weeding in the yard.
  • Wash the car.
  • Clean out a closet.
  • Play cards or a board game.
  • Talk to a friend.
  • Do housework, laundry, or yard work.
  • Wash the car.
  • Get a manicure, pedicure, or massage.
  • Write a letter or an email to an old friend.

If none of these methods helps you get a handle on your emotional eating, you may need to seek professional help to learn some coping mechanisms.

Reward Yourself

Old habits are hard to break, but you can do it by making small and gradual changes that help you listen to your stomach and eat when you are hungry. And don't forget to reward yourself for your accomplishments. Positive reinforcement is the key to continued success.

Keep your weight-loss goals in focus, and before long, you'll find you have replaced those overeating habits with more healthful behaviors. Be good to yourself: you deserve it!

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Reviewed on May 12, 2005

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