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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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What can I do to stop mindless eating,over eating ,emotional

Resolved Question:

what can I do to stop mindless eating,over eating ,emotional eating
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  TherapistMarryAnn replied 5 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

There are many things you can do to help yourself deal with mindless and emotional overeating. When you develop a habit of overeating, it is usually based on two things- emotional and behavioral. Both causes become interdependent on each other. Therefore, addressing them at the same time is important. Let's deal with the behavioral first.

When you react to emotions and begin eating without thinking, you become accustomed to that response. For example, if you feel upset about something that happened during the day, you begin thinking that you need to relieve the stress. So you eat. As you continue this behavior, you find that you no longer recognize that you are upset and think about your reaction. You just automatically eat. The same goes for other situations in your life. For example, if you are going to a picnic you associate picnics with eating so you forget yourself for the hours that you are there and you eat.

To stop this behavior, you need to stop the associations. This involves thought stopping, changing your thinking and behavioral changes. For example, when you get home at the end of the day and feel stressed, practice another activity besides going into the kitchen. If you need to, set up things you can do or turn to that change your automatic response to get something to eat to doing something else to sooth yourself. Start associating a bad day with a bath, for example. Make it a special treat.

Also, if you find yourself eating without thought at a certain time of day, change what you do. For example, if you normally eat while watching TV, change where you sit. Have things to do with your hands like knitting or even holding onto the controls. Surf the internet at the same time you watch TV. Whatever you can change will help you be more aware of what you are doing. The more you do this, the more it will become a habit.

Slow down your eating by changing hands. If you normally eat with your right, try eating with your left. This will make you more conscious of how fast you are eating and how much.

Emotionally, you need to address what causes you to associate feelings with food. Was it because the only happy times you had as a child was around food? Or do you feel so depressed that food is the only thing making you happy?

Practice thought changing. When you begin to crave food, ask yourself if you are hungry. Then rate it. If you feel very hungry, then eat a small plate of food. If you are slightly hungry, eat an apple. If you are not hungry, then pay attention to your feelings. Keep a journal if you want. That will help you track the feelings you associate with food.

Support is also important. There are many people that struggle with mindless eating and emotional eating. If you find you are not alone in your struggle, you feel better. You can also turn to your support when you find yourself eating emotionally. Try websites like SparkPeople which offers forums, recipes and other support available all the time.

There are also resources to help you. Here are some to get you started:

Breaking Free from Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth

Shrink Yourself: Break Free from Emotional Eating Forever by Roger L. Gould

50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food by Psy.D. Susan Albers

You can find these books on or your local library may have them for you.

I hope this has helped you,

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