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Avoid emotional eating and change your relationship with food

You spend a lot of time and emotional energy on your relationship with food.

Many of us struggle with what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. You may even let your emotions get the best of you sometimes and turn to food when you're stressed, tired, or even bored. 

If you're someone who turns to food for comfort, it could sabotage your weight loss efforts. The good news is that there are things you can do to change your relationship with food and avoid emotional eating.

Eat Mindfully.

Eating mindfully means paying attention to what you're eating and noticing how your food is affecting your body. 

When you eat, think about how each bite tastes, how you're enjoying it, and listening to your body's fullness queues. This is a crucial step in changing our relationship with food, and is the most important one to get right. 

Mindful eating helps your eating habits in a few ways. It helps you understand the difference between when you are truly hungry and when you are in emotional eating mode. Eating becomes more about nourishing your body and less about filling an emotional need.

If you eat slowly and really pay attention, it also allows you to actually enjoy the experience of eating, which makes it more satisfying. You can tune into the flavors and the textures of the food and get into the satisfaction of tasting and chewing the food. This gives you the opportunity to feel more in control of your diet and your body.

Identify your patterns of emotional eating.

Think about what your emotional eating triggers are, what you crave, and how you normally handle them.

Once you realize what your patterns and triggers are, it’s much easier to change your response to them. Decide now what you can do when your trigger arises that could help you avoid making poor food choices when you aren't hungry.

    If you're able, you could go for a walk, meditate, call a friend, or drink a glass of water.

    Start your day with a balanced breakfast.

    Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast can help set you up for mealtime success throughout the rest of the day.

    A healthy breakfast can give you more energy and help you to feel better, both physically and emotionally.

    Don’t keep problematic foods in the house.

    Once you know the triggers that cause you to eat emotionally, you can take steps to redirect yourself. One way to help with this is to keep only healthy food options in the house. Having tempting foods in your fridge or pantry will make it harder to avoid them.

    Avoid long stretches between meals.

    Waiting too long between eating could cause you to have stronger cravings for unhealthy food or overeating when you finally do sit down for a meal.

    If you are going to go more than 4-6 hours between meals, it is best to have a healthy snack to avoid this problem. Try raw veggies or a lean protein to hold you over until your next meal. Cucumbers dipped in guacamole, a boiled egg, a handful of nuts, or some cheese cubes are all good suggestions.

    Pay attention to your body so that you understand your hunger patterns. When you feel like you’re getting hungry and know enough time has passed between meals, be proactive about it. Eating on a regular schedule and having healthy meals planned and ready to go will help you avoid emotional hunger.

    Be kind to yourself and move on.

    When you eat something you are craving, eat a small portion and really pay attention to see if you are satisfied. Then ask yourself, ‘Do I need more?’

    It’s important to not be hard on yourself if you succumb to a craving. Accept that it happened and move on. Doing this could benefit your overall emotional state and help you avoid emotional eating when you experience another craving.

        Remember to be gentle with yourself and be proud that you are taking the steps to make real and lasting changes in your life.

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