If you feel your emotional connection to food is causing problems for you, these suggestions may help you bring emotional eating back into balance.

  • Get back to the basics. To identify emotional triggers, ask “Am I hungry?” whenever you feel like eating. If there are no physical signs of hunger, it’s likely that the urge to eat was triggered by environmental or emotional cues.
  • Leave judgment at the door. Guilt and shame feed the eat-repent-repeat cycle and close the door on learning.
  • Have compassion for yourself. When you eat for emotional reasons, you are simply trying to take care of yourself. What could you do that might work better?
  • Respond instead of react. Realize that a “trigger” is just that - a coping mechanism that you can choose to pull or not. Choose how you’ll respond to your triggers instead of reacting automatically.
  • Read the need. Your desire to eat when you aren’t hungry is a doorway into your underlying feelings and needs.
  • Cravings can be clues. The food you crave may give you insight into the underlying emotion or need, i.e. comfort food.
  • Avoid labeling emotions as good or bad, or positive or negative. All emotions are information that you can use to better understand your interpretation of an experience and help you recognize your true needs.
  • This too shall pass. Ride your emotional waves as if you were floating on a raft. All emotions come and go. It is futile to resist the ones that feel unpleasant; resistance only adds to your discomfort. Likewise, it is pointless to cling to the emotions that feel pleasant; just enjoy them while they last.

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Balanced Eating