Don't Feed Your Feelings
Many overweight people tell me that they eat much of the time because of stress, boredom, anger, or other feelings and emotions than because of true stomach hunger. In other words, they turn to food to help them deal with immediate or long-standing problems that are too difficult or painful to address head-on. A lot of these people recognize the futility of using food as a cure-all, but because they feel incapable of changing things, they numb themselves with food.
The first thing I tell my clients who are "emotional eaters" is to try to get at the root cause of their negative feelings. Forcing yourself to think about problems instead of brushing them under the rug sometimes does work. If the problems are just too complicated to resolve immediately, and you can't afford another bout of emotional eating, the following interventions can help:
• Write about the emotion you're experiencing. It's often incredibly cathartic to jot things down on paper.
• Find alternatives to eating that are pleasurable and convenient. Options include calling a friend, reading a fun magazine, watching TV, or engaging in a hobby. If you want to be virtuous, you can always clean your house, pay bills, or organize your closet.
• Choose three "interference" foods. These are healthy, low-cal items you've committed to eating before you launch into something calorific. Try to make two out of three of these foods items on the LIFE unlimited list. Perhaps two handfuls of baby carrots with salsa, one red bell pepper, and an apple will do the trick.
• Go for a run. Or take a walk. Or do any other type of physical activity you like. Exercise boosts endorphins (feel-good chemicals produced by your body) and relieves stress.