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Am I an Emotional Eater?

How to Stop Being an Emotional Eater

Can have you ever ripped through your leftovers after a bad date or tough meeting at work? Emotional eating plagues many people, and it can be especially difficult if you've struggled to lose (or keep off) extra weight. If you can relate, it's time to get acquainted with Gabrielle Bernstein's work that sheds some welcome light on this issue.

This bestselling author, Kundalini yogi, and featured expert on OWN's Super Soul Sunday is all about allowing yourself the space to enjoy the foods you like while creating new, healthy boundaries that support your goals. Gabrielle's webinar, Finally Full, tackles body-image issues, emotional eating, and food addiction head-on through lessons and meditation. We recently chatted about her best practices to break through these issues and find a healthier relationship with eating.

Identifying Emotional Eating

Maybe you know that you have a propensity to overeat or even binge, but you're not sure you're really dealing with emotional eating issues. Gabrielle has a tried-and-true test that works every time: "Check in and see if you're breathing while you eat." According to Gabrielle, if your breath is harried, short, or strained while you're eating — or as you're deciding what to eat — chances are your eating habits are tied up in your emotional state.

Handling Special Events

Social environments are one of the toughest places to stay on course when emotional issues creep up. Gabrielle says that heading to these celebrations with a game plan and healthy boundaries in place is essential to your success. Even if you set out with the best intentions to keep your meal clean, you might be tempted to grab the less healthy options on the table when they're right in front of you.

In these social situations, abstinence is key, especially for people who are brand-new to a more mindful approach to eating, Gabrielle advises. Even if you say you'll just have a taste, many people who struggle with emotional eating issues "can't fathom what it means to have a bite of a cookie," she says. Choosing abstinence (not even putting that cookie on your plate) in these situations takes the temptation out of the picture and can help you move toward a healthier relationship with the foods you crave.

Cleaning Up Your Kitchen

If you feel nervous or anxious while you're eating or cooking, it's important to revamp your kitchen habits. Gabrielle chooses to listen to music or mantras while she's making food to give the whole experience a much calmer, more meditative quality. She also admitted that she doesn't cook food she knows she can't resist unless she has plenty of people to share it with.

Eating While Intoxicated

When you're committed to working through emotional eating issues, having a cocktail or two is not supporting your goals — or helping you keep a clear mind. If you're serious about moving forward, Gabrielle suggests eliminating alcohol for a period of time. Gabrielle's reasoning is that "sometimes we transfer one addiction to the next." In her experience, she's found that when you clear out one addiction, "you have more space to work on the other." Even if alcohol doesn't feel like a big issue for you, having your emotions affected by an outside substance can't be helping the situation very much. Consider a sobriety stint to see if you're able to approach meals with a more composed and zen mind.

Skipping the Downward Spiral

We've all had an OMG moment after leaving a meal uncomfortably stuffed and wishing we could step back in time. Instead of being too hard on yourself, Gabrielle recommends calling a close friend — who she refers to as "a spiritual running buddy" — who you can contact for some kindness and help in these moments. Gabrielle has also found that meditation can lead to a more sustainable commitment to mindful eating, meaning you'll have fewer moments where you're feeling out of control around food. If you're ready to kick off your own meditation practice that directly relates to clearing up issues with food, her webinar can be a great resource.

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