Posted on Aug 7th, 2006

Are you an emotional eater addicted to sweets?

When you feel stressed or anxious, do you get a sudden craving for chocolate?

Is your best friend a big bag of potato chips?

If you answered "yes" to these questions, you fit the profile of an emotional eater.

Millions of people fall into this category and emotional eating ranks as one of the main reasons people become overweight.

Emotional eating does not satisfy hunger, it temporarily satisfies an emotional or psychological disruption in our well-being.

Eating is a quick and easy fix–as simple as a opening the refrigerator, running down to the corner drug store, or stopping by the fast food drive-through window.

We live in an incredibly stressful society. We might not have to walk five miles through the snow to school like great-grandma did, but she didn’t face the pressures of life in the 21st century, either.

How do you win this battle?

First, recognize what is happening inside you.

When you experience an upsetting situation, what is your initial response? Do you want to run away and find something to put in your mouth, preferably sweet and/or salty?

Listen to that response. Your body is telling you something. "I’m upset and stressed," is probably what you are hearing.

But does your body really want a Hershey bar or a bag of potato chips? Initially it makes you feel good, but an hour or two later you feel empty again, physically and emotionally.

Guilt sets in and you still have the original, unresolved situation.

Plus the long-term consequences of poor nutrition take their toll on your body.

What else can you do besides munch?

Choose something that does NOT involve eating.

If you have a friend you can call, great; just make sure you don’t overburden others. We all have problems, you know.

Instead, keep a book of motivational sayings, quotes, or stories close by. Force yourself to get the book out and turn to one of the stories and start reading. As the words flow past your eyes, see how much better you start to feel.

  • Vacuum the rug, clean the kitchen counters, polish the daylights out of your windows.

  • Knit a scarf, crochet an afghan, sew a quilt.
  • Shoot baskets, swing a bat, take a walk.
  • Write a scathing letter to the person who upset you, then tear it up.
  • Read the Bible, pray, meditate.
  • Retreat to your basement, attic, or bathroom, and scream your lungs out!
  • Reaching for a book is just as easy as reaching for food–cheaper, too!

    Getting started on your new responses to emotional upset will be the hardest part. Make it your goal and it will become a habit.

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