Emotional eating - is it something that you struggle with? If you eat when you aren't hungry then chances are that there is an element of emotional eating in what you do.

You may wake up in the morning with the best of intentions for the day, only to find that later on you can no longer resist the cravings and urges to eat.

It could be that your emotional eating is a response to stress, boredom, loneliness, unhappiness or anything else that leads you to seek relief in food to change how you feel.

And whilst using an external means to change how we feel is common, whether it is food, alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling or another means, if your emotional eating is leading to you piling on the weight and feeling unhappy then now is the time to reprogramme your actions and reactions.

Eating To Feel Better

Of course, the problem with emotional eating is that it can turn into a never ending battle with yourself. 

You eat (usually something full of sugar or carbs) to cover up how you feel inside and maybe you feel better for a while. But just like a sticking plaster covers over something but doesn't fix it, after a while the effect wears off and your well trained mind starts wondering what else you can snack on.

And with food being so easy to get hold of, you may soon find yourself back raiding the cupboards for more. 

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Emotional eaters will often eat quickly and without really paying attention, only stopping when the packet is empty, or seeking to justify their eating in the moment because they deserve it after the day they have had, or that once it's gone that's it, they won't buy any more. Ever told yourself that one?

Yet at some point it becomes a problem. It could be after a visit to the doctor, or maybe you can't get into those clothes any more or you see yourself in a photograph and can't believe that you've put on all that weight.

How I crushed my Emotional Eating

When I tell people that for years I struggled with emotional eating I tend to get some bemused looks. After all, these days I run marathons and my weight is just fine.

Yet it wasn't always that way.

For many years, especially as a teenager and even beyond, I was unhappy. I would snack on chocolate bars, sweets, crisps and biscuits in a vain effort to feel better for a while. Yet all it did was make me feel worse as I piled on the pounds.

People would comment on my weight. I would only wear tracksuit bottoms because they had an elasticated waist. I felt like an outsider around my friends who would all be off playing football and being active.

Only when the 'pain' of being overweight and emotional eating got too great did I do something about it. I was sick of being unhappy. I was sick of missing out due to my weight. I was sick of looking in the mirror and my fat reflection.

So the question is, are you so sick of emotional eating that you are going to take responsiblity for doing something about it? Or would you rather keep your head in the sand until the problem grows and grows? Is the pain of being overweight and unhealthy enough to motivate you to do something about it?

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Curbing Emotional Eating

If you are ready to crush your emotional eating then do these 3 things right now:

1)  Keep An Emotional Eating Diary 

For the next two weeks, keep a diary of everything you eat. In particular start to pay attention to how you were feeling just before you started emotionally eating. What were you feeling and thinking right in that moment? To conquer the emotioanl eating beast you have to first know what the beast is and when it strikes.

2) Change Your Patterns

We are all creatures of habit and assocaiton. Most days we do most things in the same kind of way because it makes life easier and quicker. You can be doing one thing while thinking about something else. That's great most of the time but when you have a habit or behaviour you want to change, it makes your job harder. You have trained your mind to behave in a certain way so trying to do the same things and get a different result is always going to be more of a battle, and because emotions will always trump logic, it is a battle that will leave you wounded and scarred.

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So using the information from your diary, start changing your patterns. If you usually go straight to the fridge when you walk through the door then go and take a shower or get changed instead. If you find yourself drawn to the vending maching at lunchtime get out of the office and go for a walk. If you get bored in the evenings and usually turn to food, start planning what you can do with your time and energy instead. Whatever you do, just do something differently.

3) Eating And Screens Don't Mix

A golden rule of making the right choices for you around your health and eating is to never eat while looking at a screen. One thing that is very common is eating to change emotions and then looking at a screen to avoid thinking about what and how much you are eating. It's like a double negative of covering over what you are using to cover it over.

When you are mentally and visually engaged in watching TV, searching on your ipad or mnesaging on your phone, you go into a sort of 'screen trance'. It's time to pay attention to your eating choices - so ditch the screens whenever you eat.

4) The Big Whys

If you want to succeed then you need to have had enough of the pain of over-eating to move away from it, and you need to want to be healthier and happier enough to work towards that goal. Write down all your reasons for being healthier and curbing emotional eating. Then write down all the things that being slimmer and healthier will allow you to do or enjoy. Revisit this list every day, especially during times in the past when you may have been tempted to give in to cravings.

5) Learn To Control Your Emotions

In many of my articles on this site I talk about ways to feel calmer and more in control, whether around anxiety, worry, panic, stress or other emotions.

To calm those emotions and extinguish the fire that drives your eating, you need to find a way to give your mind some time off so that, like a computer, it cools down and can process things more effectively. The easiest way to calm those emotions is by grabbing your free copy of my Rapid Relaxation hypnosis MP3. Listen to it at least once a day and you will soon feel much more in control of who you are and how you want to be.

To your success,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapist in Ely & Newmarket

Weight Loss Hypnotherapy