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Calming the cravings

“Why did I just eat that ice cream? I wasn’t even hungry!”

Sound familiar? You may have given in to what’s called emotional eating. That means you’re eating not to satisfy hunger, but because you’re stressed, bored, depressed, tired or anxious. And it may feel good while you’re doing it, but you’ll usually just feel worse after—especially since what finds its way into your mouth will most likely be unhealthy. Such habits can quickly lead to weight gain. But you can break the vicious cycle. Try these tips:

Stop and think. Are you really hungry, or did you just eat a few hours ago? Let the craving pass.

Get it down on paper. Write down what you ate, how much you ate, when you ate and how you were feeling at the time. Look for emotional patterns to emerge.

Find an alternative to eating. Call a friend, listen to music, take a bath or finish that craft project.

Avoid temptation. Don’t keep unhealthy food around. Period.

Stock up on healthy options. Make it something you can grab in a pinch, like baby carrots and low-fat ranch dip.

Eat at regular times. That means not skipping meals, especially breakfast.

Rest up. Getting enough sleep allows you to battle stress or other emotional triggers.

Forgive yourself. If you give in one day, move on and start the next day anew.