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How to overcome emotional overeating

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Taming of the chew

Bills. Your boss. Losing a loved one. They're all stressful, but since you can't eliminate all stressors from your life, it's important for your mental and physical health to learn how to cope with them. While some people find relief in a favorite hobby or exercise, others reach for the most readily available option: food. And with stress at an all-time high, researchers say the number of people suffering from emotional overeating is also skyrocketing. For tips to overcome emotional overeating, we turned to Dr Denise Lamothe, an emotional eating expert and author of Taming of the Chew.

Emotional Eater

Tip #1: Choose the most healthful foods you can

From protein to veggies and healthy fats, eating a properly balanced diet can help stave off those emotionally fueled cravings for food. Dr Lamothe explains, "You'll feel more balanced emotionally when you're caring for your physical needs."

Tip #2: Move your body

By taking part in physical activities you enjoy (whether it's exercising vigorously or planting your favorite flowers), you'll feel more relaxed and in control of your life. You'll also feel more emotionally balanced -- meaning, in stressful times, you're less likely to focus on food as a coping mechanism.

Tip #3: Don't bottle up your emotions

Talking about problems is never easy, but sometimes it's the best way to get things off your chest. "Holding your feelings in leads to emotional, spiritual and physical distress... and is likely to lead you to the cookie jar," says Dr Lamothe. Instead, start writing in a journal, or call up a close family member or friend to chat about things that are bothering you.

Tip #4: View your mistakes in a different way

When you make mistakes, do you unmercifully berate yourself?  Beating yourself up can send you running for sugar and other simple carbohydrates. Instead of being so hard on yourself, learn to deal with obstacles head-on. Look at them as opportunities, rather than mistakes that complicate your life and impact your self-worth. This simple change of perception can significantly improve the way you cope with stress - and deter you from using food as a coping mechanism.

Tip #5: Prioritize quiet time

"We all need rest and peaceful time to check in with ourselves," says Dr Lamothe. "Use deep breathing, meditation or some form of quiet introspection every day." By doing that, you'll feel more centered and connected to who you are, what you want, and whether or not you really need to turn to food to feel better.

Tip #6: Reconnect with nature

If you've ever spent time outdoors, you know how relaxing and completely soothing it can be. The warm sun on your face. The squirrels in the trees. Water lapping against a shoreline. By taking in the beauty of nature and letting it flow over you, you'll begin to feel more relaxed and in control of your own destiny. Sometimes it may seem like only a big bad universe is out there, but take the time to recognize and enjoy the fulfilling and beautiful things your universe has to offer and you'll start to feel lucky to be in it. And in doing so, you'll help yourself overcome emotional overeating.For more information on emotional overeating and more tips from Dr Lamothe, check out DeniseLamothe.com or ChewTamers.Blogspot.com.

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