Comfort eating - or using food to make yourself feel happy, secure, contented, warm or excited - is one of the sure fire ways to ruin a diet. If you swear to cut out chocolate and then find yourself munching because it makes you feel safe, you'll end up feeling like you've failed.
So, if you're reliant on junk food because of an emotional connection to dairy milk rather than an appreciation of the saturated fat, it's time to get your act together...
1. Eat without distraction
Think of meal times as a formal event where you need to sit down and eat without the television blaring. Limiting the amount of distractions means you're more likely to concentrate on what you're eating, enjoy it more and be fully aware of how much you're consuming in one sitting. Try and avoid all on-the-go meals because this is when you'll be more likely to pick something up that makes you feel calmer like fatty sandwiches, crisps and chocolate.
2. Don't deny yourself
If cake makes you happy the worst thing you can do is cut it out completely. Going 'cold turkey' will only make you crave your emotional crutch more or turn to equally unhealthy treats to fill the void. When you do reach for comfort food make a point of reminding yourself why you're having it, like, 'I understand this is unhealthy, with high calorie content and saturated fat but I'm eating it to give myself a little lift'.
3. Portion control is your friend
If your comfort food is mounds of chips or blocks of cheese scale the amount you're eating right back so it fits into the palm of your hand or into a small ramekin.
4. Keep a diary
Making a note of your feelings alongside the food you eat should help to show the extent of your emotional connection with food. If you notice you eat loads of pasta when you're sad, address this by limiting how much you have in the house and having plenty of healthy fruit and vegetables on stand by. Once you know your 'trigger foods' you'll be more equip to avoid them.
5. Plan ahead
If you know you've got a stressful week ahead plan in advance with loads of healthy ready meals, pre-made salads and other quick healthy options. You might not want to cook, but you can put something in the microwave. Staying in control is the easiest way to avoid nipping to the shop for a tub of ice cream.
6. Find other ways to boost your mood
At the heart of the issue is your emotional dependence on food so it's crucial to find other endorphins boosters. Exercising is a good one, as is laughing at a funny film, enjoying a day out with friends or doing a good deed.
Will you be trying any of these tips? Leave a comment below to be in with a chance of winning a £100 goodie bag.
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