Health & Wellness Articles

De-Stress in 3 Minutes or Less

Stop Emotional Eating Before It Starts

What is the single, most common problem that most dieters face when trying to lose weight? Will power? Nah. Temptation? Sometimes. Emotional eating? Bingo! That’s why it takes so much more than good intentions and information about nutrition and exercise to be successful. The ability to manage difficult situations and feelings effectively—without turning to food and eating—is a necessary foundation for a successful weight loss plan and healthy lifestyle.

Fortunately, there are many proactive steps you can take to keep functioning on all your mental cylinders during tough times. These steps range widely from basic relaxation techniques to the development of a reliable support network. Other options include:
  • Keeping a food journal to help you identify your emotional eating triggers
  • Cultivating mental and emotional well-being through practices like meditation, mindfulness, massage, and yoga
  • Developing good problem solving skills
  • Turning to the Message Boards for help and support when you need it; offering help to others as a way to get your mind off your own troubles and gain a little perspective on things
But all of these things take time, and there are many instances when you need something you can do right now, to keep yourself grounded, focused and able to make good decisions. After all, you don’t always have time to take a walk, relax in a hot bath or call a friend to talk things over. That’s what we’ll be talking about here—a 3-minute trick for handling stressful situations in the moment.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • Very good article. Ironically, what's a trigger to one isn't a trigger to another.

    I've learned something valuable over the years:

    Knowing and doing aren't the same thing.

    I can know why I do something but it doesn't stop me from doing it. For me, when I feel down, I do something that helps me feel competent - even if it's cleaning the kitchen sink so that it's sparkly.

    Or I don't want to exercise. I just go for "five minutes" and once I get going, I feel better and am out for what I had planned usually.

    Good stuff. - 2/2/2015 12:04:48 PM
    Dean Anderson, you have just become my favorite writer of all time! :x:x that"s not only for this article, but for all of them! you are a genius and i want to put into practice every piece of advice you gave me in your articles! thank you once again and PLEASE keep writing!:-) - 1/10/2015 6:35:38 PM
  • Excellent advice that I have actually used. Couple of others--
    1) When dealing with an emotional or angry person, listen for the content of what they are saying (remove the emotion) and respond to the content, your calm response not only prevents you from getting entangled it also makes it difficult for them to stay emotional.
    2) Deactivate triggers. Generally these are caused by something in our past that we don't recognize but our emotions do. In a "mind storm" (love that term) and/or physical response, notice them and acknowledge them. Think back to what happened that triggered them. Jot it down. If you are in a quiet place, jot down the mind storm too, but as you do, more will pop into your head. Sometimes the thoughts will be painful, follow them. Acknowledge all the reactions you have they are valuable. In the end, you may get down to the root of why your emotions were triggered which once you acknowledge it you can take steps to unplug the trigger. It sometimes takes the trigger getting pulled a few times while you are working to disable it to get it fully unplugged. Each time you will notice that your emotional reaction lasts for a shorter time and less intense. - 11/19/2014 8:03:11 AM
    Useful tips. I actually don't resort to eating or binging when criticized or upset. - 9/20/2014 1:50:31 PM
  • These are great tips and will be useful as I battle stress. Thinking back, I often make things bigger than they need to be. - 8/31/2014 1:39:42 AM
  • These are all great tips. If your emotional eating results in eating a few hundred extra calories in a sitting or day, then these tips are very helpful. If you find yourself bingeing and eating several hundred to thousands of extra calories in a sitting or day on a regular basis, then it is probably time to seek professional help because you may be looking at an eating disorder which is extremely serious and life-threatening. We all overeat or binge on occasion but we may need more than these tips if it is a regular habit. - 8/27/2014 2:39:38 PM
  • I'm a closet emotional eater. No problem when others are around. I like this verse from the Bible as a guide, "Make no provision for the flesh." The only solution for me is never to bring my trigger foods in the house. When I violate this rule, it's a given I'm going to eat and eat and EAT until it's gone. - 8/24/2014 2:07:36 AM
    You've actually hit the nail on the head. Emotional eating is one of the causes of obesity.When I'm upset and not up and doing, I turn to food.
    Thanks and great article. - 8/8/2014 5:27:57 PM
  • I could have used this information on Saturday. I don't know what started my emotional eating. Well maybe I do know. My DH is stressing over his eye appointment which I had to rearrange my work schedule because I have to drive him home due to drops in his eyes. I started out good by coloring my hair but then I saw tastykakes in the basket and I ate a pack. I haven't done that in a long time. Live and learn. They didn't even taste good. I was back on track yesterday. Thank goodness. - 7/21/2014 12:57:06 PM
  • This is just what I was looking for! I wish I could print it on the palm of my hand. - 5/31/2014 12:01:43 PM
    I have found that these stress relieving tips can help just about any issue that may be showing its ugly head. Personally, meditating, yoga and focused breathing has worked very well. Thanks for ”spelling it out" - 2/11/2014 12:08:23 AM
  • Wow, everything I needed to hear in just one article! Great job synthesizing all the info and advice, and boiling it all down into lists. I can get my mind around lists! Thank you for your perspective, and for taking the time to put this together. - 10/25/2013 8:18:52 AM
  • With all the stress and anxiety I've been under lately this will come in handy. Let's just see if I can physically do it lol - 9/24/2013 10:19:29 PM
  • This article helped me pin point exactly why all the sudden I had this undeniable urge to go get Panda express and just binge eat. Honestly I didn't even realize I was upset. This helped me so much. So thank you! - 9/17/2013 1:54:16 PM
  • If an article can make you realize your doing your bosses work then here it is.
    I stress out at the job so often its affecting who i am. I'll have to read this a few times till it sinks in. - 9/16/2013 11:45:05 AM

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