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Eat well

Put a stop to emotional eating for good!

Emotional eating happens any time you eat when you’re not hungry. The result can be a double whammy of weight gain and guilt. Using this journal can help you get your emotional eating under control for good.

Knowing and understanding when and why you’re eating for emotional reasons rather than hunger is a good starting point to put a stop to this unhealthy habit. You’ll need to do some soul searching, but the outcome will be well worth the effort!

Step 1

Print this chart and keep it on your fridge or kitchen cupboard. Every time you eat, make a note of what you ate, how much, when and why.

Step 2

Review the table for patterns after one week. Then follow the strategies and tips below.

Step 3

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until you feel you have more control over your eating.

Date

Time

Food or meal eaten

Reason for eating

(hunger or name a specific emotion)

Trigger

(cause of emotional eating)

Sample day

9:30 pm

Chips and soft drink

Nothing good to watch on TV

Boredom

Sunday

 

 

 

 

Monday

 

 

 

 

Tuesday

 

 

 

 

Wednesday

 

 

 

 

Thursday

 

 

 

 

Friday

 

 

 

 

Saturday

 

 

 

 

Take action against emotional eating

Once you’ve tracked your eating habits for at least a week, review your journal for patterns – recurring emotions, danger times and triggers.

Spot your patterns

Some common emotional reasons for overeating include anger, boredom, loneliness, despair, stress, depression and frustration. Whenever you can, try to uncover the trigger, or root cause, of these or other emotions.

For example, you might notice that you often eat potato chips while watching TV at night because you are bored. Or you may “supersize” your order at a fast-food drive-through when feeling overworked and stressed after a long day at work.

Once you spot your patterns, use these strategies to help you combat your emotional eating.

Three important questions

To keep emotional eating in check, always ask yourself these three questions before you reach for food:

  • Are you physically hungry or emotionally hungry?

    Learn to recognize the signs and feelings of true physical hunger, and eat only when you experience them.

  • Are you actually thirsty rather than hungry?

    We often confuse the two. Try drinking a glass of water or a cup of tea and then reassess.

  • Have you given your body enough time after eating to register that it’s full?

    Wait 15 minutes before taking that second helping.

Start new habits

Using the information logged in your journal, try tailoring the following suggested strategies to your situation:

  • Take time out to really understand your emotions – what you are feeling and why – instead of ignoring them or expressing them through food
  • Do something constructive to tackle the root cause of each emotion that leads to overeating. For example, grab a book from the library if you are bored; make a to-do list if you are overwhelmed by work; write a letter or email to a faraway friend if you are lonely; tell your partner why you are angry with him or her
  • Turn a negative response – overeating or overindulging in nutrition-poor foods – into a positive habit, such as going for a walk or dancing around the house
  • Treat yourself to a non-food reward when stress, worry or overwork get you down
  • Create an eating plan, with regular meals and snacks, that won’t leave you hungry and vulnerable to emotional eating
  • Keep only healthy, nutritious foods in the pantry
  • Ensure that you are getting adequate sleep so you’ll be better able to manage emotions and stress
Put a stop to emotional eating for good
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