Stay Away from the Fridge
Here, four common emotions that drive women to overeat — and the strategies that can help you resist.
If you eat when you're happy
- Be creative. The next time something fabulous happens — you get
promoted, or your daughter makes the soccer team — invent a new kind of
feel-good ritual. Instead of treating yourself to a special dinner with your
husband, take an afternoon off and spend it with him. To recognize your
daughter's accomplishment, join her in an activity like skating or biking.
Begin to retrain your brain to celebrate without food.
- Plan ahead. Developing a popcorn strategy, for example, could save
you from eating an entire bag at the movies. "If you tell your husband
beforehand, 'OK, I'm only going to have two handfuls,' you may actually limit
yourself to that much," explains Abramson.
- Learn how to party. If there are hors d'oeuvres, choose two of your
favorites (and yes, one should be a veggie). Then eat just those items.
Research shows that people who rely on a few diet staples are more likely to
keep weight off than those who vary their foods. To prevent mindless grazing,
stay more than an arm's length away from any snack bowls. And if you get a good
conversation going, put your plate down. "The more you focus on people, the
more distracted you get, and the more you tend to eat," explains
If you eat when you're anxious
- Take a quick walk. A California State University study that tracked
frequent snackers found that those who went for a brisk five-minute walk when
they felt frazzled were much less likely to grab a candy bar than those who
just sat at their desks. "Walking for only a few minutes lifts serotonin
levels — and that boosts your mood and leaves you feeling less anxious,"
explains Robert Thayer, Ph.D., author of Calm Energy. This trick
worked for Lisa Downs: "When I felt nervous about our family's finances, I
would take a walk. Even five minutes helped curb my sweet cravings," she
- Say "om." De-stressing can be a powerful way to whittle
down. A recent study from Oregon Health & Science University found that
overweight women who performed daily relaxation techniques, such as meditation,
yoga, or even writing in a diary for 20 minutes, lost an average of 10 pounds
after 18 months — without consciously dieting. "We suspect that these
relaxation techniques helped serve as a buffer to stress, so the women were
less likely to overeat," explains study author Anne Nedrow, M.D.
- Check your watch. The likeliest binge time for anxious eaters is
late afternoon or early evening, because that's when stress levels are usually
at their highest, says Cynthia Bulik, Ph.D., director of the Eating Disorders
Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of
Runaway Eating. So steer clear of the kitchen (or vending machine)
during those hours.