How to end your emotional eating

How to end your emotional eatingFor many people, emotional eating, or placating feelings with food, begins in childhood. "It probably starts the first time you skin your knee and are offered a cookie to make it feel better," says Linda Spangle, M.A., R.N., the founder of WINNERS for Life, Inc., a Denver-based weight-management program, and author of Life Is Hard, Food Is Easy: The 5-Step Plan to Overcome Emotional Eating and Lose Weight on Any Diet (LifeLine Press, 2003). To break the pattern, Spangle encourages confronting feelings head-on. "Eating is easier than sorting through relationship struggles or trying to find meaning in a dead-end job," she says. "But until you face your emotions, you'll never meet your true needs." Spangle suggests asking yourself the following questions:

1 What's going on? Be aware. When you recognize a nonhunger-based desire to eat, quickly identify what is affecting you at that moment.

2 What do I feel? Dig down deeper to recognize and acknowledge your emotional needs and what might be at their root.

3 What do I need? Figure out what you can do to instead of eating that will assuage your need or help you work through feelings in a less destructive way.

4 What's in my way? Look at your life and start to figure out which things are preventing you from changing.

5 What will I do? Set goals, keep promises to yourself and maintain your commitment. This is the action step that will transform your life in a profound way.

Praised by weight-loss expert John Foreyt, Ph.D., director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, this new book offers proven solutions, motivating personal stories, written exercises and practical tips that can help you quit turning to food to deal with emotional issues.