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Emotional Eating

4 Quick Fixes to Tame Emotional Eating

Written on September 18, 2012 at 10:02 am , by

Stressed? Put down the pint and call a pal. (Photo by Stephanie Russer)

Even health pros struggle with making smart diet choices all the time. FITNESS advisory board member Pam Peeke, MD, admits that she “turned to food for comfort” after a family illness when she was a teen. “Bridge Mix was my ‘crack’ and seemed to numb my pain,” she says.

Peeke learned to avoid her trigger foods, and says that we can all learn to bypass temptation or emotional eating by doing the same. According to Peeke, it’s sometimes necessary to “reclaim your hijacked reward system in your brain” to conquer this issue (for example, going for a walk rather than scooping up a bowl of ice cream when you are stressing out about your upcoming performance review).

Easier said than done, though. So we asked Peeke to share tips from her new book The Hunger Fix, on sale today, for some examples of how to overcome life’s most stressful situations and still be able to slide into our skinny jeans afterward.

Struggling with a work deadline…

  • False fix: Staying up too late, using caffeine as a crutch, stress eating
  • Healthy fix: Eating nutritious foods every three to four hours, sipping green tea, standing up every 30 minutes to stretch

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7 Reasons You Eat When You’re Not Hungry

Written on September 22, 2011 at 9:02 am , by

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

Photo courtesy of SparkPeople

We’ve all done it, and sometimes we don’t even realize when it’s happening: We have all eaten something when we weren’t actually hungry. And while that’s OK from time to time, too much eating without thinking can really hurt your weight-loss goals (and possibly your health).

Take a look at these 10 situations that encourage you to eat when you’re not hungry…and how to solve them!

1. To Cope
Happy? You might eat a treat to celebrate. Sad? You might eat to soothe yourself. It may help to track your eating habits in a journal, noting your emotional state when you headed for that snack. Writing it down may help you make a connection you hadn’t seen before, like the fact that you eat when you’re lonely or angry.

2. Out of Boredom
For many people, eating seems like a good solution when there’s nothing better to do–whether you graze at home on the weekends or entertain yourself with lavish dinners out.  If you know boredom is a trigger for your eating, have a list of strategies in place to keep yourself busy: Catch up with an old friend, write an old-fashioned snail-mail letter, write in your blog, read, or workout! Eating won’t seem as appealing if you have a fun alternative to keep yourself occupied!

3. Because Other People Are Eating
It’s easy to indulge when others around you are eating, too. Research shows that our habits mimic our companions’ actions in situations like these. You don’t have to swear off happy hour with friends to watch your weight though. When your dining companions devour a second basket of bread or chips, or order dessert, don’t automatically follow suit. Check in with your hunger level to see if you really need it to be satisfied with the fun conversation.

4. Because Food is There
Whether it’s party food or an office candy jar, when food is in plain sight, it can be too easy to grab. If you’re unable to nix the trigger food altogether, move the treats out of sight—you’ll be less likely to grab a handful. So if you buy a bag of Oreos, put them on a high shelf in a cabinet—not on the counter. Instead of a clear candy jar, try an opaque one or move it to another location. When you’re already full and food is out at a party, stand with your back to the table or in another room.
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Thintervention’s Dr. Ramani Durvasala on How to End Emotional Eating

Written on February 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm , by

The doctor is in...(Photo by Paige Craig Photography)

In “Are You Normal About Food” from our March issue, more than half of the 2,400 women polled for the piece admitted to negative emotions after a binge (guilt, depression, sickness…). For more insight into this topic, we turned to a pro who has dealt with emotional eating and lost 85 pounds herself. Dr. Ramani Durvasala, the psychologist from Bravo’s Thintervention with Jackie Warner, told us about the reasons behind emotional eating and how to manage it.

How do you know if you’re an emotional eater?
First, examine how you talk about food. Do you use passionate, emotional terms like “love,” “obsessed” or “adore” to describe a certain snack or meal? I used to refer to food in that way and then I realized I don’t talk about much else that way ever—maybe just my kids!

A few other signals include eating in secret, feeling anxious or out of control around food, using food for a non-food purpose (such as a reward or a numbing tool) or not achieving success on several weight loss programs in the past.

Can it be “cured” or just “managed?”
Believe me, even after losing the weight, I still struggle everyday with emotional eating. I wish I could eat all that I want whenever I want, but I can’t. And that’s frustrating! Emotional eating is a lot like other addictions, and never really go away. It usually begins to develop in childhood, so you basically have to learn to deal with your triggers and preemptively plan to make good choices.

Read on for Dr. Durvasala’s five tips for emotional eaters…

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