Stop emotional eating: Write a 5 x 5 list
Distraction gets a bad rap in our culture: it’s associated with mindless behavior like texting while driving (or walking, for that matter) or with a lack of focus. But distraction—when it means redirecting our attention in a focused, purposeful way—can be one of your best weapons against emotional eating. It “can shake loose thoughts of eating and put an end to the loop of food chatter that makes you mindlessly munch,” writes Dr. Albers in 50 More Ways. “By giving yourself something else to do or focus on, you give yourself time for the thought about food or the emotion driving you to eat to cool down and dissipate.” Trying this exercise: Take out a piece of paper, and write down five quick lists of five items each: five people you can call when you feel down, upset, or angry; five ways to relax (ex: take a hot shower); five places to go to calm down (ex: your porch); five things you can say to yourself under stress (ex: “This too will pass”); and five activities to distract yourself (ex: watch a show on Netflix). Display this list on your refrigerator or a kitchen cabinet. Next time you’re driven to snack to soothe yourself, look at the list, and choose one of the 25. Do it for five minutes, and be sure to give it your entire attention.
Stop emotional eating: Map out the emotional territory ahead of you
Sometime over the weekend, sit down, grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil, and sketch out your route for the next week (successful people do this, too!). Not streets and highways: Just create a rough map that contains all your planned stops (work, school for a parent-teacher conference, doctor’s appointment, movie theater with the family) as well as possible detours (a supermarket trip, a mall run). Then, select an icon that symbolizes emotional eating—Dr. Albers suggests a doughnut—and put one at the places (a meeting to ask your boss for a raise, brunch with your in-laws) that could trigger emotional eating. “Having a map laid out for your week that clearly identifies problematic events may help you be aware of them,” writes Dr. Albers. Then, plan ahead. If you know you’re likely to stress-eat at brunch, for instance, look at the restaurant’s menu online beforehand and select a delicious yet healthy option so you don’t binge on Eggs Benedict. Here are some things geniuses do every day that you may want to add to your to-do list, too.