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How to Handle Emotional Eating
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Summary: Find out how to tackle emotional eating in this article.

Almost everyone has experienced emotional eating in some form of another, whether you turn to a pint of ice cream when you’re feeling down, or buy yourself some candy to celebrate something going well at work. Because food is ingrained in our lives and feelings and it’s something we have to consume every day, emotional eating is incredibly common. For some people, however, we turn to food more often than not to avoid dealing with the emotions that we’re experiencing. Emotional eating is using food as a coping mechanism for stress and other emotions, and often a way for us to avoid dealing with emotions by suppressing them with the temporary pleasure of food.

If you’re dealing with emotional eating, the best piece of advice is to give yourself some grace.

  
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Life is tough, no matter what your circumstances. Don’t make it worse by beating yourself up or feeling guilty. Forgive yourself and move forward. You’re doing your best, so remember to treat yourself as you would a friend in the same situation – with love.

Another great tip: know your triggers and plan ahead.

If you know that you’re going to be in emotional overdrive on a certain day because of an event or you have a really stressful week coming up, come up with a plan of action if you find yourself turning to food. If your partner is gone for the week and you think you might feel lonely, make plans with friends and don’t cancel! If you know you’re going to be stressed, fill your fridge with healthy food options that you enjoy and get rid of the food you might binge on. If you know you’ve got an upcoming event you will get stressed about, make it fun by scheduling a pedicure or massage beforehand to treat yourself.

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If emotional eating seems to be an everyday kind of thing, make a meal plan and stick to it.

When you stick to a meal plan, you can’t really emotionally eat and you’ll be forcing yourself to deal with the feelings that you’re avoiding. Enlist a friend to keep you accountable or to do it along with you. That way you know someone will be checking in and you won’t deviate from your plan. Use mindful eating techniques to help you decide when you should and shouldn’t eat – like asking yourself if you’re really hungry, and taking time to sit down to a meal without distractions.



Last but not least: deal with those feelings!

It can be really uncomfortable, but sometimes being uncomfortable is exactly what you need to move through whatever you’re dealing with and get to the other side. One great way to do this is to pull out a blank notebook or a Word document and just go to town with everything that’s on your mind. If you don’t know what to write, start with “I feel…” and fill in the blank. Write anything and everything, no matter how bad it might be. When we get things out on paper, we often recognize that the thoughts swirling through our heads aren’t even true and that in reality, everything is going to be okay.

Emotional eating is tough. So many people wouldn’t be struggling with it if it weren’t! Just know that you’re not alone and be kind to yourself. It will take time to learn how to deal with your feelings in more productive ways, but also know that you will slip up and that’s okay.



 

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