We've all heard the phrase "emotional eating." It brings to mind the heartbroken woman working her way through an entire box of chocolates after being dumped, the homesick college student finishing off a large pizza, or the recently laid-off friend making her way to the bottom of a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips while trying to pay her bills. But most emotional eating takes place on a far more subtle scale—which may be the reason you can't drop those last 5, 10, or 25 pounds.
"About 75 percent of the people who come to see me for weight-loss advice eat to deal with their feelings," says Jane Jakubczak, R.D., the coordinator of nutrition services at the University of Maryland. "But because it's such an unconscious act, they often don't even realize they're doing it." For many of us, that mindless munching can sabotage even the best- laid healthy-eating plans. "In my experience, emotional eating is the top reason diets fail," says Linda Spangle, R.N., the author of 100 Days of Weight Loss. "You get into a pattern where every time you feel anything—sadness, loneliness, anxiety, boredom, even happiness—you turn to food."
While it isn't realistic to think you can banish every single emotional eating episode (sometimes a chocolate cupcake really can help turn a bad day around), it is possible to cut back on the behavior and ultimately avoid piling on pounds. But before you can do that, you need to understand why your emotions are making you indulge in the first place.
Keep reading to learn how to stop emotional eating