How To Stop Binge Eating And Emotional Eating Once And For All
Put an End to Emotional Eating
Step 1: Forget Food Bans
"Many diets have 'bad' foods that you're supposed to swear off, which is unrealistic," says Judith Beck, PhD, clinical associate professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author ofThe Complete Beck Diet for Life. "A better approach is to plan in advance to eat your favorite foods in moderation. Otherwise, you invariably cheat and go overboard."
Step 2: Figure Out What True Hunger Feels Like
It's not easy. Many of us mistake thirst for hunger, but ruling out thirst isn't that hard: Just drink a tall glass of water and see if the urge to eat disappears. The other issue might be a craving for a specific food. To distinguish between a craving and genuine hunger, ask yourself: Would I be interested in eating a healthy snack, like an apple, a salad or a slice of whole-wheat bread? If you can't get that chocolate bar out of your mind, you're probably dealing with a craving.
Step 3: Get Past a Craving
Figuring out that you're not actually hungry is a huge first move—but just acknowledging the craving probably won't make it disappear. The next time you're drawn toward the kitchen, stop and ask yourself: "How will I feel later if I devour a bag of chips or a pint of ice cream right now?" There's a good chance that you're going to feel guilty, disappointed, and possibly bloated and sick. Instead of going down that road, hold off for just 10 minutes and distract yourself with something other than food (see Step 4), says Ward. If 10 minutes have passed and you're still thinking about cookie dough ice cream, go ahead and indulge—a little. Measure out 1⁄2 cup of ice cream (no eating out of the container). Or, for an instant chocolate fix, try seven Hershey's Kisses, two Dove chocolate squares or a cup of hot chocolate. For something salty and crunchy, go with a 1-oz bag of potato chips or 3 cups of light butter popcorn.
Step 4: Plan New Ways to Cope
The key to stopping the emotional eating pattern, says Ward, is to plan ahead so you'll know what to do when that I'm-so-stressed-I-could-eat-a-whole-pizza feeling strikes. For example:
Keep your sneakers handy.Running, brisk walking or dancing to your favorite tunes for even just 10 minutes can boost your mood and combat the effects of stress. Keep it up for 20 to 30 minutes and you'll prompt your body to produce endorphins—natural feel-good chemicals. Or calm down by doing a relaxing activity, like yoga.
Make a list of all the reasons you want to eat healthfullyand post it on your fridge so they stay fresh in your mind. Think beyond fitting into a bathing suit. For example, you might want to focus on getting the energy you need to keep up with your kids or the nutrients that are essential for fighting off heart disease and diabetes.
Find a diet role modelwho has good eating habits. Promise to phone, e-mail or text her before heeding the call of junk food.
Eat Healthy America Challenge
Try It Today: Don't buy any "trigger foods"--ones you can't have just a taste of without devouring the entire bag or package. While a permanent ban on a specific food may only make you want it more, there's no reason to tempt yourself on a regular basis. Save those foods for special occasions out of the house (for example, order ice cream for dessert at a restaurant instead of letting Ben & Jerry's hang out in your freezer).
Try It This Month: Deciding what you will (and won't) eat before you have the urge to overindulge can help you stay in control. Sit down one Sunday and plan an entire week's worth of meals and snacks--including a few small treats and desserts here and there. Then stick to it as closely as possible.
Video: Stop Comfort Eating: The Cure For Emotional Eating
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