A stressful day at work. A fight with your partner. Or just a long week + you need something to take the edge off.

What do you do? Unwind with a bottle of wine or a big bowl of ice cream? You know I’m no fan of deprivation from what you REALLY want. But, what do you do when you’re knee deep in an emotional eating binge?

For me, my go-to I-had-a-bad-day comfort food is a pack of sushi from Whole Foods + a bottle of white wine. I tend to crave saltier foods rather than sweets.

I know that’s not the worst thing I could eat, though it’s certainly an expensive habit. But the point isn’t how healthy or unhealthy your comfort foods are.

The point is to be able to comfort your emotions without food.

Whether you’re stressed, you’re sad, or you’re just bored, it’s hard to not turn to food. We’re literally programmed to comfort our emotions with food starting in childhood. A crying baby gets fed milk or moms bribe children with sweets to behave.

Think about it: we’re even triggered to eat food when we’re happy! A nice dinner to celebrate a life milestone or an accomplishment at work.

Don’t get me wrong, whether you’re sad, happy or stressed, occasional comfort eating is okay, and it’s actually part of a healthy relationship with food.

The problem is when food is your first + main source of comfort, and your first impulse when you’re having these emotions is to open the refrigerator door or reach for the take out menu.

Because here’s the problem: when you’re emotionally hungry, food will never satiate it. You can eat + eat + eat. But at best, you’re really only numbing the emotion.

Even if the food helps you feel better at first, you’ll need to keep eating to keep the dopamine in your brain cranked up.

And then, after an emotional eating binge, you feel guilty for all the calories you just ate, and the cycle just repeats itself.

Again. And again.

I mean, have you been here? It’s exhausting, you feel disgusting, and you know it’s a race to the bottom, but you keep going.

Emotional eating comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s just habit, like snacking while watching TV {boredom}. Sometimes, it a distraction from what you need to work on {stress}. Or sometimes you’re sad, angry, or anxious, and you want to eat yourself into a food coma, to numb the unpleasant feelings.

Here’s the thing though: Emotional eating is just a habit. And if you’ve been following me for a while, you know you can’t unlearn a habit. But you CAN learn how to add in other habits so that your first impulse isn’t to beeline it to the kitchen.

The next time you find yourself reaching for food + you suspect it may be coming from a place of emotional hunger, rather than physical hunger, don’t fight the impulse to the fridge, see if you can ADD IN a non-food comfort source.

It’ll probably be some guess + check work, and some of my suggestions will speak louder to you than others.

That’s all fine. Take some time to go through my 27 suggestions to comfort yourself without food, and in the comments below, let me know which one you’re gonna try

Here are 27 ways to nurture yourself that don’t include food:

  1. Take a hot bath with nice oils or salts in candlelight
  2. Learn to meditate
  3. Play a game with a friend
  4. Take a yoga class
  5. Get a massage
  6. Play with your dog or cat
  7. Call that friend you’ve been meaning to call to get together
  8. Buy yourself fresh flowers for your desk or home
  9. Spend some time gardening – even something small like basil or aloe
  10. Buy yourself a small present
  11. Be okay with your feelings + know that it will pass
  12. Get a manicure, pedicure, haircut or facial
  13. Go to the movies
  14. Write in a journal
  15. Call a friend
  16. Take 10 slow, deep breaths
  17. Talk to the person who is making you have your unwanted feelings
  18. Watch a movie
  19. Clean out your closet
  20. Take a walk in your neighborhood
  21. Go to the library + check out a book
  22. Start a DIY project
  23. Work on a puzzle
  24. Have a date night with your partner
  25. Go to a sauna or jacuzzi
  26. Browse a museum
  27. Make sure you are getting enough rest + sleep

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