I? Am an emotional eater. Here is what I learned:
The Emotional Eater Personality
The main problem you face is eating when you're not hungry or eating to satisfy something other than hunger. "Food for your mood" can cause your diet to vary a great deal. Too much of your eating is driven by boredom, stress, or dejection - you might even find yourself in the kitchen, open cookie bag in hand, and not know why. Mindless and emotional eating for you can be caused by any number of reasons. It is likely you have more weight to lose than most or have grappled with weight most of your life.
A tendency for this personality type is to yo-yo on dieting and swing through "all-or-nothing" extremes (e.g., I've blown it already this meal so why not have dessert?) A few spoonfuls turn into a snack turns into a binge…especially around the high stress holidays.
What Can You Do?
A diet alone is not the best option for the Emotional Eater. Emotional Eaters can become fixated on what's good and what's bad and grow obsessed about eating. The emotional eater needs to become more conscious of when and what they eat and surround themselves with the support they need to change. You will need to develop new skills for dealing with boredom, stress and/or sadness. You need a conscious connection to your hunger.
Confidence can be the missing ingredient and starting small is key. Consider starting a streak for a predetermined period (say two weeks) and focus on regularly reaching just one goal for that period. An example would be to drink 8 cups of water each day. This success will give you the new habits and confidence to try another goal. Emotional eaters do well with friends by their sides to help coach and maintain a degree of accountability.
How You Can Get Help
For you, weight loss is more complicated than simply counting calories and it will take some investigation to get to the root of your eating habits. The SparkPeople support message boards and expert coaching will give you the strength and insight to overcome past problems. The circle of friends and the support group at SparkPeople will help you take the pounds off quickly - and keep them off! Our food tracker and reporting system of over 10,000 foods, when used with the online journal, can expose those mindless and emotional eating times and help you develop strategies for dealing with them.
Surround yourself with positive re-enforcers, like pictures and goal reminders.
Track your eating patterns, including when and why you pick up food.
I don't think I'll ever be good at this eating stuff...