If you ever feel angry, feel frustrated, and you’re are an emotional eater then more than likely your first reaction is to eat, regardless of whether or not you are physically hungry.

At the same time, if you are overweight you’d rather not eat when you aren’t hungry, because it’s certainly not going to help you lose weight. So what do you do?

Well, I’ve put together a list of my top 5 things to do (besides eat) that help me the most when I’m angry or frustrated. If you can apply even one of these, that’s great. You can also put together your own list and post it on your frig as a reminder so that you can take a detour instead of indulging in emotional eating. Of course, as with anything, you must DO these steps, which means that you must be 100% struggle-free and without self-sabotage. If that is the case for you (which is unlikely if you are engaging in emotional eating behavior in the first place) then you would have no problem at all following these steps at all times as opposed eating your anger:

1. Get outside and do yard work. This is my number one helper at this time of year. Whether I’m angry, stressed, frustrated, or whatever, when I get outside and take action, I help myself work through my frustrations with that physical action. I am also getting tasks accomplished, and I feel great about the progress that I make in the yard.

I always end up thinking through things and come up with solutions, ideas, or just process my emotions while I’m doing productive work. If you don’t have a yard, maybe you have a window garden, or a hobby that you are passionate about. I love to paint (my house, not paintings), and am in the process of finishing up my living room. This is something else that gets me away from food and on to something productive. Any kind of activity that you can focus your body and mind on, will help get your focus off of the easy way out – food.

2. Write in your journal. This is a standard, powerful activity that I always suggest instead of giving in to emotional eating. It’s one that anyone can do, and it can be done anywhere. Maybe you live in an apartment or a townhouse, or maybe you just don’t like yard work. Journaling is something that can be done anywhere, at any time.

I prefer to write with pen and paper, but you could even use an online journaling service. This site provides a free service, and you have the option to set your diary to “private” so that no one else will see it.

I’ve never used this service, and when you think about it, someone (the site owner) could still read what you wrote since your words will be stored in a database, but if you like the idea of writing on your computer instead of in a paper bound journal, you might like this. If you want your journal completely private (but you still want to write on your PC), you could open up Word, OneNote, or even Notepad for that matter, and store your journaling docs on your PC.

Journaling is a great tool to help you: discover what is bothering you, let your emotions out without being self-destructive, find solutions to your problems, and even get into self-analysis. If you can get those emotions out on paper instead of turning to food, you are working on the issue instead of creating more problems (overweight) for yourself.

3. Exercise. Go for a walk, work out with weights, do resistance training, go for a bike ride, anything physical. When you get your body moving, you can work through your thoughts and frustrations easier than if you stuff those emotions with food. When you eat to cover up how you’re feeling and to try and make yourself feel better, you aren’t dealing with the actual problem (or opportunity, depending on how you look at it 😉 ).

Food won’t solve the problem you’re having, and it will give you more problems to deal with. At least by exercising, you are taking a positive action, and you’re free to brainstorm about solutions, or work through your angry feelings in your work out.

4. Cool down and wait it out. I put this step in here because it’s always better to cool down first instead of acting in anger. I was originally going to post this yesterday, and this point wouldn’t have been in the list. Instead, the last point would have been “write about it”, and I was going to tell you all about what I was so angry about (and flame another company).

Instead, I worked in the yard, did some writing, cooled down, took the action of writing to the company, and they seem to be attempting to make things better. Sometimes, you have to give it some time, and things will work out (my issue isn’t solved yet, though).

What if you are frustrated over a situation, and rather than taking pro-active, positive steps, you turn to food instead and in the end, everything works out for you? All is better, but you get on the scale and see that over the past week or two, you’ve gained 10 or 15 pounds through emotional eating that didn’t help you solve the issue that ended up working out for you anyway.

Even if the problem doesn’t work out the way you want it to, you will still be faced with either weight gain, or at the very least, the self-destructive habit of emotional eating. Better to detour yourself away from the food because no matter how your frustrating situation turns out, why give yourself the added problem of weight gain?

5. Take action to solve the issue that is frustrating you. Something has gotten you all stirred up. First, determine if you have any control over the issue. If you don’t, then you can still journal your feelings about it because no matter what you feel, those are your feelings and they are valid for you. If you don’t have any control, it might come down to just letting go of the situation, and working on how you feel about it.

If you do have any control on your end that could possibly affect a positive outcome, then get focused on what you can do. You might be afraid of taking action, but I encourage you to at least review your options, instead of turning to food. Once you know what you can do, take your action, and then let go and move on until you get some feedback.

The important point is that you are taking valid action regarding the issue that you feel angry or frustrated about instead of eating over it, which won’t solve anything for you.

As you can see, all of these pertain to taking some sort of action. They have worked for me, but what about you? What’s an action that you have taken to successfully avoid emotional eating?