Anyone who has struggled with weight issues knows that snacking when emotional can undo a lot of hard work. A lot of the overeating that takes place is the result of reaching for junk or "comfort" foods, and it can be difficult to stop snacking. While it may be comforting at the moment, ultimately consuming snacks triggered by emotional eating results in even greater emotional distress. There are ways to run your own interference when you are snacking for emotional reasons alone.
Step #1: Identify Your Triggers
Do you eat more when others are eating? Do you eat because you are tired? Does the junk snack call your name when you are feeling lonely or anxious? Are you trying to fill up some inner emptiness? Does anger make you reach for the snack you've passed up all day? Are you eating just because you can? Identify what makes you snack when you are not hungry.
Step #2: Make a Commitment to Yourself
Recognize that the momentary satisfaction that snacking provides will ultimately do you more harm than good. Commit to yourself that you will work on changing your behavior.
Step #3: Recognize You Are Not Perfect
When you have made the commitment to change your snacking when emotional behavior, recognize that you will not be perfect. You will sometimes slip up. However, promise yourself that you will make every effort and not beat yourself up for your mistakes. In other words, if you do snack when you are emotional, you don't then use your mistake to start a binge.
Step #4: Make Your home a Safer Haven
Create an environment that supports what you are trying to accomplish. Do this by getting rid of those foods you are most likely to reach for when you are feeling emotional. Substitute healthy and nutritious snacks.
Step #5: Find Alternate Activities
Use this list of alternate activities and add your own:
- Talk a walk.
- Invite someone to join you on your walk.
- Take a nice long shower or bath using your favorite scents.
- Read a book or magazine. Don't read in the kitchen.
- Call a friend. Call someone you haven't spoken to in a while.
- Take care of a household chore.
- Try relaxation tapes or meditation.
Do an activity you enjoy until the urge to snack passes. Make sure you are eating a healthy diet and are able to recognize true hunger. As you incorporate your coping strategies into your daily routine, reward yourself with non-food items and experiences.