HALTing Emotional Eating

HALTing Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is eating in order to combat stress, anxiety, frustration, loneliness, boredom, and a whole host of other feelings. We eat to feel better or to forget these feelings, or, even worse, you may not be aware of those feelings and are just eating without purpose. Yikes.

In my practice, I work with clients to help them understand their emotional triggers, change their relationship with food, and learn healthier habits. The first step is self-awareness. When you find yourself mindlessly snacking, write a few notes about how you’re feeling.

You may of heard of the concept of H.A.L.T. This stands for hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. In behavior therapy, research has show strong evidence that these four states tend to lead back to our bad habits - like mindless eating. Before grabbing food, ask yourself if you are truly hungry or if you are using food to mask anger (or aggravation, annoyance, frustration, irritation, etc.), loneliness (or sadness), and/or tiredness (or fatigue, feeling rundown, feeling overwhelmed, etc.).

You can also ask yourself these simple status questions:

1. Am I really hungry or am I bored? New clients often tell me that they snack because they’re bored. Does that ever happen to you? When and why does that happen? What could you do about your boredom besides eat?

2. Am I stressed and snacking comforts me? Stress increases cortisol, which can increase your craving to snack. How about trying some healthier ways to relax, such as taking a walk, doing yoga stretches, soaking in a warm bath, or doing some deep breathing or meditation exercises? Check out the meditation app, Headspace. It’s easy - just 10 minutes at a time, and very calming.

HALT isn't just an acronym - it's a reminder to stop before acting. Slowing down and taking stock of your situation makes you more mindful and purposeful in your actions. That way, eating is done for a good reason. Hunger doesn't have to be the only reason, of course. You may want to try a new flavor or your friend's new recipe. There are lots of great reasons to eat - just make sure you have one of them.

10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You

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