Logging your daily food intake can help you recognize your emotional eating triggers. Dr. Jacobs recommends jotting down the time of day you feel hungry and how you feel emotionally. This process helps differentiate between when you’re feeling physical versus emotional hunger.
“Physical hunger is usually accompanied by symptoms like a growling stomach or lightheadedness. Emotional hunger is when you want to eat, but not because you are physically starving,” says Dr. Jacobs. “People think they want to eat, but do not know why. They do not connect it to an emotion.”
Once you know your triggers, you can develop a plan for the next time you want to reach for the peanut butter jar. “If there is a certain time of day you are more likely to binge, you can change up your routine. If it’s right after work, you can do something else before going home. By changing up your routine, you ensure binging does not become a natural course of events for you. Emotional eating will not become a habit,” says Jacobs.