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5 Ways to Prevent Emotional Eating Post Breakup


Dealing with a breakup can be emotionally challenging, but it may also trigger the urge to soothe uncomfortable feelings with food.

When you're in the process of moving on from a relationship, here are a few strategies to help you prevent emotional eating and stay grounded in a routine of self-care:

1. Stay active.

Your negative habits can be broken when you replace them with new, positive habits. Distracting yourself by staying busy, while it may seem like a form of avoidance, can keep you from turning to food during the first few painful weeks after a breakup.

Clock in more hours at work, busy yourself with projects around the house or tackle things on your to-do list that you've been putting off.

People tend to engage in emotional eating when they're alone, bored, or feeling isolated, so staying active can help fend off the urge to eat.

2. Cultivate your social life.

Dating someone new may be the last thing on your mind after a breakup, but staying social can help alleviate the negative feelings that tend to precede emotional eating.

Your friends can be a great sounding board when you need some support, while meeting new people may keep you from falling into the mental trap of, "I'll never find someone; I may as well just eat."

Social situations that involve food may also help you blow off steam (having a nice meal at your favorite restaurant, for example) without allowing you to binge.

3. Know your triggers.

After a breakup, certain places, times of day or even songs, movies or other mementos can trigger memories and feelings about your ex.

If you know that you're prone to emotional eating when you come home to an empty house after work, for example, make it a point to change your routine. Instead of going home, establish a different habit - like heading to the gym or going to your favorite coffee shop with a good book.

Avoiding your triggers will not only prevent emotional eating, but it can keep you from wallowing in the past and staying stuck in negativity about your breakup.

4. Nurture yourself in healthy ways.

Breakups come with the stereotype that you should cry on the couch with a tub of ice cream or drown your feelings in a bottle of wine. And while these behaviors may offer some temporary relief, it's better to find healthy ways to nurture yourself.

What activities bring you peace of mind? How can you relieve stress in a productive way? How do you normally "treat" yourself without food?

Whether it's a massage, a shopping trip, a hike in nature, or a comedy movie marathon, turn to the things that make you feel good that don't involve food.

5. Get support.

Sometimes a breakup can trigger emotional eating even after months or years of being in "recovery" from the behavior. If that's the case, it may be helpful to find support in 12-step groups like Overeater's Anonymous. You may also be able to find a support group in your area for people going through divorce or breakups, while online support communities can also offer a place of comfort.

Source: NAED