Contributed by Sylvia R.

Food is often used for comfort.  When we are sad, we may look to a pint of ice cream for comfort.  When we are stressed, that bag of chips suddenly seems necessary.  But all comfort eating does is make us feel worse afterwards.  We knock ourselves for eating it and then start the process all over.  You don’t need to keep eating for comfort. You can break the cycle.

Pay attention. Are you eating as you are reading this? Are you watching TV at dinnertime or eating at your desk at work? Stop.  Turn off the TV, turn away from the monitor and get off the phone.  From now on, when you are eating a meal, pay attention and enjoy it.

Keep a food/mood diary. We have all heard of food diaries, but while keeping track of the food you are eating, keep track of your moods too.  Did you feel stressed so you bought a candy bar? The answer is important. Knowing what triggers your comfort eating can help you to plan alternatives.

Identify other ways to deal with your mood.  Were you eating because you felt down?  What else could can you do to pick yourself up? Call a friend, go for a brisk walk, or write in a journal.  Letting the feeling out in another way can move you away from food.

Do something happy.  Put on some upbeat music, play a short video game, read an inspiring quote, whatever it takes to make you stop and think of something happy.  Your mood doesn’t need to control you, you can change it.

Think of a solution.  There is a problem that arose to make you feel this way.  Without a solution, the problem will keep coming back.  Take a moment when you feel like comfort eating to jot down some solutions.  This can help you feel empowered and change your mindset away from needing that comfort.

Accept the situation. If there is no immediate solution, accept what is happening and feel it.  It is okay to feel sad or angry. If you let yourself experience these feelings, they can fade away.  Keep your eye on the big picture of your life instead of thinking this one moment in time is forever.

Admit you do it.  Almost everyone does. When you confess it to your friends, you will find support and examples of how they comfort eat as well. Then you can call upon each other when you feel the urge to comfort eat.

Talk to a professional.  Your friends may be supportive, but there may be a bigger problem that you are avoiding.  Speak to a professional who will listen to you and help you work towards being happier in general.

Can you think of any other ways to avoid comfort eating? We invite you to comment in the box below.