Eating is essential to sustaining the body. When you catch yourself devouring an entire pizza and a bag of cookies all alone, however, there’s a good chance that something else is going on. Whether as a coping mechanism to deal with stress, boredom, loneliness, or depression, you can never fill the hole in your emotions by overfilling your stomach with food. Take the power back by using the following tips to break this unhealthy cycle.

1. Drink a Large Glass of Water

There are hardly any situations where H2O won’t provide some health benefits towards your end goal, and the habit of emotional eating is no exception. Without any additional calories, water can fill your stomach up while curbing a thirst craving which you may have confused with hunger in the first place. Even if this doesn’t work, water will rejuvenate your skin and help flush out your body’s toxins, so no harm done!

2. Distract Yourself

Are you opening your fridge for no reason? Then immediately interrupt the process by turning around and focusing your energy on another chosen activity. The details of your distractions are unimportant but could include drawing, knitting, answering emails, going for a drive, or playing a video game. It won’t take long before the craving is forgotten.

3. Go for a Run

Not only will some physical activity lift your mood and defeat those intrusive food cravings, but the exercise itself will also burn off any excess emotional eating calories. If you are currently overweight and you find running too strenuous on your joints, look into less intensive options such as yoga, cycling, or swimming. If the symptoms persist, ask a doctor to identify the type of knee pain and adapt your approach accordingly.

4. Sleep the Recommended Amount of Time

You can’t hide in your bed all day, but your seven to nine hours of slumber are still imperative to controlling any unwanted habit. Loss of sleep increases the ghrelin hormone (which is responsible for your hunger) while dropping the leptin hormone (which regulates your metabolism). As if these chemical imbalances weren’t bad enough, you will also find yourself easily irritated with vulnerable emotions, as your body cries out for any source of energy you can consume.

5. Eat the Right Way

As contradictory as this may sound, you can suppress your eating by eating. Start with three solid meals a day, focusing on foods which boost your mood. These include beans, nuts, soy, tofu, seeds, mustard oil, seaweed, and avocados, as they are filled with essential amino and fatty acids. Always read the labels, avoid simple carbs, and consider purchasing some supplements for good measure.

6. Snack the Right Way

Of course, no one wants to completely give up the pleasure of snacking, but there are ways to be smart about it. Put some honey in your tea for a sugar fix, stock up on carrots, and fill your shopping cart with those fruits which take a conscious moment to peel (such as bananas or oranges). And most importantly of all, never even glance down the candy aisle!

7. Enforce Mindfulness
Another sneaky method you can use in order to hinder your brain from any impulse decisions is to create a ritual designed to slow your intake down and control your portions. From now on, enjoy your food more by refusing to eat from a bag or box. Sit down, always use a plate, and perhaps even light a candle to set the mood?

8. Eat Slower

To assist an easier digestion process and grant your stomach the chance to register its food, simply eat slower. Chew each mouthful properly, only take another bite once you’ve swallowed the last one, and put your fork down every so often to catch a breather. You’ll be surprised how little food is required to fill you up, and once you reach that point, stop eating.

9. Maintain a Food and Mood Diary
If you are still struggling, turn your emotional eating into an investigative project by taking notes on everything you ate and how you felt that day. By analyzing yourself in such minute detail, you will soon understand your most risky triggers and can remain one step ahead of them at all times.

10. Reach Out for Help
Finally, there is no shame in looking towards other people to lend a supporting hand. Speak to your friends or family, and be honest about your concerns. If you know anyone who has the same tendency to emotionally eat, then have a discussion with them on ways you can assist one another. If you feel this problem may be out of your control and is negatively affecting your health, then speak to a medical professional to discuss your options.