I don’t know if it’s the time of year – or just a coincidence, but there seems to be a lot of talk time being devoted to the topic of emotional eating. We’ve also been getting many emails from people looking for help with this very common issue.

So, I’ve posted a basic, but helpful, article to help people who suffer from the mildest, but most common form of emotional eating. This article has been submitted by health writer, J. Davenport:

5 Steps to Stop Emotional Eating

By John Davenport

Do you ever find yourself eating even though you know that you’re not physically hungry? In nearly all of us, hunger is not only a physical thing but an emotional one as well. We eat, not just to feed our body, but to comfort ourselves when we’re feeling stressed out, sad, angry, or bored.

This is emotional eating and it’s a challenge millions of people face.

The problem is – if you want to maintain a lean and healthy body, all the extra calories you consume by emotional eating will come back to haunt you – in the form of excess body fat and a poor medical profile.

For this reason, I want to present you with a 5 step action plan by which you can stop emotional eating forever:

Step #1 – Avoid Comfort Food

We all have a weakness for certain kinds of food. These are the foods that give us the most comfort (short as it is). Each person has his or her own comfort foods but some of the more common ones include mass-market chocolate, ice-cream, pizza, and sugar or salt rich items (junk foods).

To make it easier for yourself to avoid these foods, you need to go through your kitchen and get rid of these foods. Just throw them out. Once these foods are not in your home, you will have to work harder to get them.

A little here and there is fine, but emotional eaters tend to use these foods as their main ‘crutches’. So there has to be some self-control in order to shift where you get your calories from. You want high quality, nutrient-dense calories first.

Then you can think about eating some of the “bad” foods you enjoy on a limited basis.

Step #2 – Cook at Home

I often see people eating their lunch during their work break. They are so hungry that they don’t even realize how much they’re eating. And the fast food lifestyle teaches everyone how to eat more, not less. So when you combine the stressful demands of work and the comfort found in eating, the combination is a bad one.

The best thing you can do to reduce temptation and overeating when you’re out of your home is to carry food that you’ve prepared in advance with you.

Yes, it’s a bit more work but it will not only save you a whole lot of calories, but some money as well. Cooking at home is much cheaper than eating out every day. And in most cases, it’s healthier.

Step #3 – Reduce Stress In Your Life

The biggest cause of emotional eating is stress. We are surrounded by it at our job, at home, when driving. It’s the hectic modern lifestyle, but you’ve got to find a way to alleviate some of this stress.

Here are a few tips:

– Try some breathing exercises each morning and night. Here is a free video on Breathing Exercises
– Practice basic yoga and/or meditation.
– Take some time for yourself each evening and watch a sitcom. Laughter reduces stress very quickly.
– Avoid people who add stress to your life. (this may be the toughest, but one of the MOST critical)
– Exercise daily, even if you only have 10 or 15 minutes on any given day.
– Try trading massages with your significant other; or go pay for one.

Step #4 – Eat from Smaller Dishes

Have you ever found yourself eating food right out of the bag or box and then finding out that you’ve eaten nearly all of it without even noticing it?

The best way to stop this kind of mindless overeating is to place all your food on a small plate or in a small bowl. Our mind immediately judges the amount of food we have by how it fills our dishes. If the dish appears full, we tend to think of the portion as sufficient.

This is an easy and effective way to eat less, regardless of your mood. And the more you do this, the more natural it becomes.

Step #5 – Practice Mindful Eating

The final step you need to take to overcome emotional eating is to turn eating to something more mindful. Most people eat out of reflex. They don’t put any thought into it. This is how you overeat because most people eat until they are ‘over-full’ in order to feel satisfied.

Before you eat your next meal or snack, stop for a second and ask yourself: “Am I really hungry?”

If the answer is ‘Yes’, go ahead and eat. If it’s ‘No’, then this was an emotional hunger and just by putting a little thought into it, you’ve managed to avoid falling for it.

You’ve just saved yourself some useless calories and have exhibited powerful control over your false emotions.

Use these 5 steps and it will become much easier for you to stop emotional eating, eat healthier, and lose body fat.