Are you an emotional eater? I am, and I know that overeating for me, rarely has anything to do with actual hunger. Those same tips and tricks that help keep non-emotional eaters' hunger cravings at bay, can help people like us.

But, we need to have a few mental tricks in our toolbox as well.

Here's one easy method: HALT! And no, that doesn't just mean you shout at yourself as you head for the fridge (or in my case, the snack cupboard). Instead, it's a simple checklist to help you decide why you're reaching for that snack in the first place:

Are you:


If you answered yes to any of those questions, besides the first one, then food isn't the solution to your problem. Finding out what it is just might kick your emotional eating habits for good.

HALT is a good place to start. But, I've found that I need to add a few more emotions to the list: bored, stumped (I work from home and find myself reaching for food when I hit a roadblock), anxious, stressed, and surprisingly thirsty. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so sometimes a big glass of water is the simplest solution.

Discovering the source of your emotional eating is half the battle. The other half is figuring out how to fill that need with something other than food.

Here are some tips:

  • Write it down. A food journal is a great place to start, but it's also smart to write down any feelings that are associated with carby or sugary snacks to pinpoint moods, or times of day, that trigger overeating.
  • If the HALT! test proves you aren't really hungry, set a timer for 20 minutes and do something else: Go for a walk, put in a fitness DVD, or call a friend.
  • Play hard to get - with treats that is. Keep treats at the store where they belong, and not in your house or desk. At the same time, keep healthy snacks like fresh fruits, or chopped veggies washed and at hand for when you do need a snack.
  • Get regular physical activity. Studies have found that regular exercise can improve your mood. A better mood means less stress and unhappiness, which will help curb emotional eating.

Are you an emotional eater? How do you control your cravings when they hit?