In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about intuitive eating. Many experts and supporters talk about intuitive eating as the ultimate anti-diet. That’s because instead of going on some restrictive or temporary eating plan, intuitive eaters simply listen to their bodies to help them decide what, when, and how much to eat.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, as anyone who has tried and failed at any kind of intuitive eating plan can tell you — it’s not an easy thing to learn. Human society is programmed to eat for a huge variety of non-nutritive reasons. We eat for fun. We eat to socialize. We eat because the TV is on. We eat because the clock says it’s time. And for a lot of us, we eat to subconsciously — or even consciously — medicate our emotions.

Of course, that means eating when we’re sad, frustrated, disappointed, stressed, anxious, or angry. That last one even has its own slang term: hangry. But no matter what you call it, emotional eating gets in the way of our best intentions to eat more intuitively.

First Things First: Overcome Emotional Eating

Before you can learn to eat intuitively with consistency, assess whether you have any tendency to eat emotionally. If you’re a frequent or habitual emotional eater, it will probably be that much more difficult to master intuitive eating. So with that in mind, let’s look at some ways you might be able to control this tendency.

“This Too Shall Pass”

If you can resist the urge to eat for even 15 minutes, the feelings that are driving you to crave something might subside. At that point, you can decide if you’re physically hungry or just emotionally hungry.

Keep a Food Diary

Keep a special notebook to write down what you eat, how much, and how you’re feeling while you’re eating. Also, note how hungry your body is. This can help you identify triggers and create an awareness of why you’re really eating, which is a huge step in the right direction.

Create New Habits

Instead of going for the chips when your sister yells at you or just because you’re bored, try doing something else that actually makes you feel better. Go for a walk. Read a book. Write in your journal. Any of these things could make you feel better without the eventual guilt of eating half a bag of chips.

Manage Stress

Stress is a common driver of emotional eating, but there are many more productive ways to handle it. Try some yoga, deep breathing exercises, or meditation. Keeping your stress level manageable can help keep you from feeding it.

Don’t Punish Yourself

It may be tempting to punish yourself with deprivation when you’ve eaten emotionally. But that deprivation usually backfires into a cycle of emotional eating. Instead of depriving yourself or dieting, eat foods that offer real satisfaction and nutrition, and your body may respond with a happier outlook that helps you eat more intuitively.

Release Trapped Emotions

Of course, mastering your emotions might be your best defense against emotional eating. Try using The Emotion Code® to identify and release any Trapped Emotions™ that could cause you to eat when you don’t really need to. Until these negative energies are released, you might find yourself in a perpetual cycle of emotional eating.

While you’re at it, you can use muscle testing to ask your subconscious yes or no questions about what your body is actually asking you to eat. Perhaps you feel like eating a piece of cake when your body really craves the sweetness of a peach or banana. To find out, just ask!

Master Your Emotions for Intuitive Eating

It makes sense that emotional eating could be a major barrier to your desire to eat intuitively. Using the techniques above, see if you can get emotional eating out of your way first. Once you have that well under control, you might find it much easier to master intuitive eating, so your body can get what it really needs when it really needs it.