Examine the Emotional Issues Behind Your Weight and Eating

One of the keys to winning the weight-loss battle is understanding that many people eat for reasons other than hunger. Some of us eat when we feel happy, sad, or upset. Others eat as a reward or when they feel lonely or bored. Some of us automatically eat in certain situations - in front of the television, in the car, while talking on the phone, when we're out with friends. These feelings and situations are called food triggers. You need to identify the feelings and situations that trigger eating for you.

For a week or two, write down what's happening and how you're feeling when you eat. Then look back over your journal entries. Do you see a pattern? Do you eat when you're especially stressed? Do you use food to celebrate or to cope with difficult emotions?

Find Other Ways to Cope

Once you know why you eat, it's easier to plan strategies to overcome those habits. Are there other ways for you to cope besides eating? The idea is to replace unhealthy habits with healthier ones. For instance, if you're feeling lonely, call a friend. If you eat when you're tired, take a nap or try meditating. When you're angry or frustrated, take a walk around your neighborhood.

If you automatically eat when you watch TV, try keeping your hands busy with crocheting or knitting, or substitute low-calorie snacks, such as celery sticks, in place of high-calorie snacks. Better yet, turn off the TV and take a walk or engage in some other physical activity. Write down healthier ways you can cope with your stresses.