4 Ways to Preempt Emotional Eating

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Do you eat in response to stress or other emotional triggers? Stop that habit with help from Drs. Susan Mitchell and Catherine Christie, authors of Fat Is Not Your Fate: Outsmart Your Genes and Lose the Weight Forever.

To preempt the immediate eating that is literally a “gut reaction” to emotion, our clients and patients have found the Four Ds helpful.

  • Deep breathing: Take ten slow, deep breaths in succession: breathe in to a count of ten, hold for a count of ten, and breathe out slowly to a count of ten.
  • Delay: Wait at least ten minutes before eating; then see if you still feel like eating.
  • Drink water, coffee, or tea: Have a glass of water or drink something hot, such as tea or coffee. Drinking helps satisfy the desire to eat.
  • Distraction: Tailor your distractions to the source of the emotion. If it’s stress that habitually makes you eat, schedule a “worry time”, or do a mechanical task such as pulling weeds or trimming shrubs to help clear your mind. If it’s boredom, commit to a new and stimulating objective. If it’s loneliness, call a friend or volunteer at a shelter or library. If you’re angry, get physical and go for a brisk walk or clean a closet. Make a list of enjoyable or mechanical distractions you can do instead of eating, such as listening to music, gardening, doing laundry, playing your guitar or piano, cooking a meal for a sick friend, playing with a pet, or sending or answering e-mail.

Dr. Susan Mitchell and Dr. Catherine Christie are the authors of Fat is Not Your Fate: Outsmart Your Genes and Lose the Weight Forever (Copyright © 2005 by Dr. Susan Mitchell and Dr. Catherine Christie), I’d Kill for a Cookie, and Eat to Stay Young. Dr. Mitchell, a registered dietitian, certified nutrition specialist, and fellow of the American Dietetic Association, has appeared on Today, CNN, and the TV Food Network. Dr. Christie, also a registered dietitian and certified nutrition specialist, is a fellow of the American Dietetic Association and president of the Florida Dietetic Association.



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