Comfort eating, otherwise known as emotional eating, often has its roots far back in our early childhood. As babies we are comforted with milk, and often while growing up sweets, biscuits and other sugar- or fat-laden snack foods are given to us as treats, rewards or for comfort.

This process can leave us with the feeling that food is the answer to many uncomfortable situations or problems we might experience. For many of us comfort eating then becomes an ingrained habit.

The comfort eating habit causes problems for a huge number of people. If you think you may be a comfort eater and have been looking for ways to change this learned response, then these tips may help.

1.  Look for distraction to help avoid comfort eating

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This may sound challenging but distraction can be one of the healthiest and most productive ways to avoid comfort eating. When you feel those cravings coming on try to distract your mind by engaging in some completely different activity.

Fitness activities are perfect as a distraction since you will be fighting the comfort eating problem with an excellent remedy. However, it could be anything â?? like an urgent job that needs doing or a phone call to a friend. If you can keep this up you will gradually form new, more positive habits to replace unhealthy comfort eating.

2.  Consider the alternatives to comfort eating

Often our bodies mistake thirst for hunger or simply the desire to eat something sweet or fatty. So the next time you feel the urge to eat when you know that thereâ??s no chance that youâ??re hungry, drink two glasses of plain water or grab a handful of carrot sticks or a stick of celery. This will immediately help to fill your stomach and lessen your desire to eat right then. Freshly squeezed juices are also wonderful alternatives to alleviate the urge to eat comfort food.

3.  Use a shopping list

One of the most simple and effective methods of stopping yourself from comfort eating is to use a shopping list in order to avoid buying the foods that tempt you in the first place. This may seem like a harsh approach, but if they arenâ??t in the cupboard you canâ??t eat them!

Hang around the peripheries of the supermarkets where the fresh food is kept.  Avoid the junk food and processed food aisles. Your family and other members of your household will certainly benefit from this as well.

Always make sure that your fridge and pantry are stocked with significant amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables. You will find that when faced with three apples you are unlikely to eat them all, whereas three slices of lemon meringue pie may be a different story! Recognising this should help you to judge when you are comfort eating as opposed to when you are actually hungry.

4.  Define the causes

In the long run you might need to consider what the root cause of your comfort eating habit may be. Take note of which circumstances and times of the day lead you to crave for food and be ready to address this when it happens.
If breaking the cycle is too difficult on your own you may wish to consider some help from a therapist trained in dealing with comfort food issues.

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