03/21/2014 08:22 am ET Updated May 21, 2014

How to Deal With Emotional Eating

Most of us know the kind of foods that we should be eating more of and those we should try to avoid as much as we can, but it is not quite as simple as that. Life sometimes gets in the way. Maybe your boss is on your back about a deadline or the kids just won't stop screaming or you are dealing with some relationship problems and the only thing that you think is going to help is to eat your feelings. Sure, it might make you feel good for a little while, but ultimately it won't make you feel any better and it certainly won't fix the problem.

During my own 100-pound weight loss, emotional eating was my biggest challenge. I constantly reminded myself that if food wasn't the problem, then food wasn't the answer, but there were days when that phrase wasn't enough to stop me from eating until I felt ill. I don't think emotional eating is something you (or at least I) can ever completely stop, but it can be reduced. It didn't happen overnight for me, but these are some of the things that helped me to stop always eating my emotions.

Keep an emotional eating diary:
This is a good way for you to address the emotions that are triggering your overeating and then you can deal with the source of the problem. Cutting people out of your life or quitting your job might not be an option, but knowing that they are the cause can help you to find other ways to deal with the stress or to limit it. I would write down what I was eating, rate my hunger between 1 and 10 and write down what my feelings were before and after eating.

Make a healthier alternative:
There are going to be times when you are feeling angry and you are going to eat because of it. You might be craving some kind of dessert and that is the only thing that is going to make you feel better. In a situation like this, try to make a healthier alternative to the food you are craving. Craving brownies? Try making these Nut-Butter Brownies instead.

Don't skip meals:
This is good advice in general, but if you are eating regular meals, then if and when these emotional episodes happen, your body should already be satisfied and you won't feel like eating everything in sight.

Find something other than food that makes you happy:
This is something that really helped me. When I would feel an emotional eating episode coming on, I would do something else apart from eat. I would do one of the other things that makes me happy, like playing my guitar, or writing, or the best thing to do is just work it out. Running is the best therapy for me and I can really get rid of a lot of stress that way. Perhaps for you it is dancing. Find something else that makes you happy and do that!

Ditch the guilt:
This is probably one of the most important ones. There are still going to be times when you overeat junk food when you are feeling down. Don't beat yourself up about it or use it as an excuse to give up all together. Learn from it, focus on what caused it, move on and start again.

Find balance:
I would always try and be so "good" and restrict myself far too much with food and do loads of exercise. When I had an emotional episode, it was easier for me to binge because I felt that I had been deprived before. Don't ban foods from your diet, just eat them in moderation and they won't seem so "bad" and tempting when you are feeling emotional.