More than 73 percent of Americans age 20 and older are considered overweight or obese. Several factors play a role in this epidemic, including increase in availability of inexpensive processed foods and growing portion sizes. However, one of the largest contributors to weight gain is emotional attachment to food. Without the emotional attachment, it would be easier to say no to comfort food or stop when we're full.

As a society, we use food to celebrate, show remorse and to express love. Unfortunately, this can lead to some bad eating and coping habits down the line. As a child, you celebrated your birthday with cake, winning the big game with a pizza party, and a good report card with ice cream. It's no wonder that as adults, we do the same thing. Many celebrate successes at work with going out for dinner and drinks and spend bad days wallowing in a pint of ice cream. It's okay to have a slice of birthday cake or go out to dinner once and while, but to break the cycle of emotional eating, try some different ways to reward yourself.

  • Get a massage. Some are reluctant to spend money on massage therapy because they view it as an extravagant expense. Massage offers many healing benefits in addition to being relaxing. It can help treat chronic pain, stress, insomnia and some illnesses. Next time you have a goal or milestone you need to reach, tell yourself that once you succeed, you'll reward yourself with a massage. Don't make the promise to yourself in vain though. Actually put aside the money for the massage you will get when you finish that project.
  • Go shopping. Instead of grabbing dinner and drinks with the girls to celebrate, suggest that you go shopping. Going out to eat can be expensive, yet it's an expense that many don't think about the same way they think about a new shirt or pair of shoes. You may think nothing of spending $70 on dinner in one night, while when you see it on a price tag, you quickly walk away. Decide on how much you are able to spend and then let yourself spend it. You've earned this.

Whatever you choose to reward yourself with, be sure to follow through. Eating can be an easy fix or reward, but in the end, little is gained (outside of a few extra pounds). Get in the habit of treating yourself right and you'll find that you start eating when you're hungry, not when you're emotional.