Day and Time
Write down when you eat to see if emotional eating happens at specific times. Did you overdo the salty after-school snacks on Wednesday? Why do you think that was? Maybe you had a difficult class that day. Or perhaps it's the only day you're alone after school.
Type of Food
Writing down what you eat helps you see connections between moods and certain foods. Are you more likely to be tempted by cookies and ice cream on Sunday night, even if you're really good about snacking on carrot sticks the rest of the week? Perhaps you're anticipating a stressful week.
Writing down how hungry you are lets you know when eating is emotional versus driven. Is that bag of chips simply a quick way to take care of your growling stomach you reaching for the chips because you're craving something crunchy and salty?
Environment and Thinking
Does what's going on around you affect your eating? Some people turn to food when the house is quiet; others are you more likely to snack when family members are eating too. How do your thoughts affect your eating? Maybe you reach for snacks when you're worrying about a test or thinking about something bad that happened. Are you enjoying what you eat or hardly noticing it because you're thinking of something else?
Food and Amount
Do you turn to specific foods based on how you feel (such as salty snacks if you're
nervous or stressed, sweets if you're lonely or sad)? Do you eat more if you're in a bad
mood than you would in a good mood? Do you eat less or eat differently when you are
totally focused on the food?
What to Do With This Information
Track your eating for a few days. Then look for patterns in the times you eat, your mood, and ow much (or what) you eat. If it looks like there's a relationship between eating and feelings, think of ways to meet that emotional need without resorting to food. For example, work off frustration with a quick exercise or yoga routine.
Eating for comfort or relief can establish patterns of reward in our brains that are hard to break. Counselors and therapists can help you change your emotional eating patterns if its too difficult to do alone.