Let us begin with a simple question: Do you collapse in the face of challenges? Be honest with yourself because you are fighting with yourself and not with another person. What is your response to any challenge? Getting nervous and hitting that big pack of potato chips or ordering a big cheese burger with some large fries? Whenever you couldn’t reach your goals, you hopped onto the nearest café to drown your emotions in food? When you couldn’t fit into your favorite pants after a three-month exercise binge, you went right back to your sedentary old ways? Can you identify with any of these habits? If you can, then you need to bring all your emotions under control before you think of shedding those layers of fat from your body. No workout or diet can help you until you correct your emotional eating disorder.

Statistics show that 75 percent of overeating comes from emotional needs! You should not take emotional eating lightly for this is actually a common disorder. In this condition one tends to eat food that could have been avoided or eats large quantities of food whenever some crisis or emotional moment sets in. Yet emotional eating is very much a curable disorder and you need not panic; all you need to do is follow some simple steps to balance your emotions. For starters, take out your notepad and list all the things that upset you. Think about how you have coped with the challenges presented by life and answer this: have you resorted to eating in tough times? If the answer to that is yes, then you have been eating to fight off the negativity presented by emotional moments. Every time you faced a difficult moment, instead of looking for solutions, you went on an eating binge. The result: overweight, loss of confidence, guilt, shame, and a feeling of being burdened with layers of fat.

So before running off to doctors or hitting the exercise route, you need to balance those turbulent emotions. Try to understand the triggers that make eating a compulsion. What brought the onset of this habit? Was it the need to talk to someone or was it rejection in any form? It could be anger at something or someone or perhaps the loss of someone dear. Another reason could be loss of self-esteem or lack of it. All these factors vary from individual to individual—you need to deal with the factors that affect your life, before your can start losing weight.

What you need to do is to learn how to cope with moments of despair with a cool and collected mind. So the next time you get nervous or upset, instead of picking up that big pack of potato chips, try picking up your track pants or take out your jogging shoes and hit the road. The idea is to turn negativity into positivism, and you can do this when you shift your brain from one thought process to another one. It has to be a conscious effort and it will take some time to develop, so be patient with yourself. The simple fact about walking, jogging or any kind of physical activity is that it will tire you and this will keep other disturbing factors on hold for the time being. Once you are out of the particular moment, you will be able to cope with the crisis without longing for food.

If you are an extrovert and feel the need to talk, then just pick up the phone and talk your problems out with a friend or anyone, who will pay attention to it. Do not hesitate to take the help of an expert if the disturbing emotions do not subside. Perhaps when you come across an objective view to your problem, it might not appear to be as bad as you think it to be.

What you need to understand is that everything begins with a thought before it translates into action. You will eat if you think about eating and it also works the other way around; you will also not eat if you don’t think about eating. Only you can make a firm decision about eating or not eating. You can get a lot of help along the way, but the effort has to be all yours. So before gorging on food, make sure you read all about the ingredients and the calories they contain. Then think of how many calories will collect in your body and how difficult it will be to shed them in the future.

Now very rationally and slowly, ask yourself whether all this eating actually resolved the problem. Did it? It didn’t. The problem remained and will remain till you make efforts to resolve the situation. So you need to develop your analytical powers to solve all issues that are bothering you. So instead of eating, read simple help books and maybe try emotional intelligence training sessions.

If you feel that you are an emotional eater due to some hormonal disturbances, consult a doctor or talk to a counselor about how to resolve the issue. Sometimes, maintaining a diary can also help and you can keep referring to this to judge recurring patterns. You can use all the self-help formulas and corrective measures as much as possible till you manage to get out of the emotional eating habit.

It might seem strange, but sometimes a simple thing like prayer or meditation will also work because you will be spending the moment of crisis in praying and not eating. Even though you might feel meditation is tough, it has been proven to change brain wave patterns. So try that as well, along with other relaxation techniques. What you need to understand is that emotions need to be managed in a healthy manner before you can begin to manage your physical health. Emotional eating will not resolve your issues. Ultimately in order to lose weight and live a healthy life, you must balance your emotions and then your body.