Do you find it hard to pass up dessert, even when you’re full? Many emotional eaters turn to food for comfort. To decide if you truly are an emotional eater, it is important to know what habits define an emotional eater. Emotional eaters, eat food to fulfill emotional needs, rather than to fill their stomachs. You may turn to food when you feel sad, anxious, or bored; however, there is a simple solution. With only two weeks until Stress Awareness Month, we want to help you identify emotional triggers that can be sabotaging your diet. 

Emotional Triggers
First, you need to figure out what situations, or feelings make you reach for food. To help, here are some common causes of emotional eating:
•    Stress can cause you to crave salty, sweet, and fried foods or in other words foods that will bring you temporary happiness. 
•    Boredom can cause you to eat more than you should simply because you are trying to distract yourself from feeling as if you have nothing to do. 
•    Uncomfortable emotions, such as anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, or shame can cause you to overeat. You may try to stuff down these feelings in an attempt of avoidance.  

Alternatives to Emotional Eating
•    If you’re munching because you are bored try another healthy alternative, such as reading, exploring the outdoors, or exercising.
•    If you’re tired, try drinking tea or decaf coffee to avoid overeating. 
•    If you’re anxious, try expending your nervous energy by dancing, walking, or using a stress ball. 
•    If you are depressed, try lifting your spirits by calling a loved one, or playing with a pet. 

Practice These Eating Techniques 
•    Be aware of emotional eating. Write down when you stress eat and use a hunger scale to determine if you are in fact physically hungry or if you are stress eating.
•    Replace stress eating with an activity that you like to do. 

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be an exhaustive examination of the subject matter nor a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your primary care physician or healthcare provider before beginning any diet or exercise program.