Mind, Body & Spirit Diet Guidelines

By EatingWell Editors

Keep your energy levels up by following these guidelines from the nutrition experts at EatingWell.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you! I know it isn't rocket science...but understanding why someone my be an emotional eater...that it is linked chemically in releasing neurotransmitters...well it is freeing. I don't mean to be dramatic...but...

Learn to recognize the difference between true hunger and emotional eating

Let’s say your stomach isn’t rumbling, and you just had lunch an hour ago. Yet you find yourself craving food—especially a specific food like a candy bar or a cookie. If this sounds like you, it’s time to evaluate whether you are an emotional eater.

Many people turn to food to suppress negative emotions, such as stress, anger, boredom, sadness or anxiety. Others use food to reward themselves. Whatever the reason, it’s important to recognize if you’re eating because you’re hungry or because of some emotional need. Knowing why you’re eating is the first step in gaining control over your eating habits. Eating for emotional reasons can lead to weight gain and poor nutrition so it’s important to understand what is motivating your food choices.

Once you’ve identified the emotional issues that trigger your eating, you can focus on finding more appropriate, nonfood ways to manage them. Try deep breathing or meditation, calling a friend or going for a brisk walk. “The more you practice these alternative behaviors, the more automatic they become,” notes Elena Ramirez, Ph.D., co-founder of the Vermont Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy in South Burlington, Vermont. Eventually, reaching for a bag of chips can stop being the default reaction to stress.

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