Start changing your eating habits with one or all of these exercises.
1. Morning Pages
Benefit: Julia Cameron's classic technique, adapted from "The Writing Diet," allows you to get in touch with your feelings instead of burying them in food. Start your mornings with three pages of free-form writing. Set your alarm an hour earlier, although you may not need that much time. Write honestly about how you're feeling. Nothing is too petty or too grand to be included -- the grudge you hold against your sister, your dreams of starting a nonprofit that will save the world, your sinus headache. Let it all out. Keep your hand moving and follow your thoughts. Do not expect "real" writing. Just write. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages, and they're for your eyes only.
2. Food and Feelings Log
Benefit: Food logs that note your emotional state can keep you honest about what you're really eating -- and why you're eating it.
Buy a notebook or journal that's easy to carry around, and stock your purse with pens. Keep another jar of pens in the kitchen. Starting in the morning, write down everything you eat and drink. Note the time and how you feel. You don't have to write much; a few words is fine. Try this for a week or two, and see if you notice patterns in your behavior. Do you eat well until 9 p.m. and then head for the junk? If there's someone you trust to be both supportive and tell you the truth, try showing her the journal, suggests Cameron. She may see things that you don't. (For example, you might think you had a great day, but she might point out that you didn't eat any vegetables.)
3. Stop, Drop, and Write
Benefit: You'll learn to break your snack-attack momentum.
When you're heading for the chips or chocolate, grab a pen and paper first. Tell yourself you can have the food if you still want it when you're done, but for five minutes you're simply going to write. This exercise has two approaches. "One way to do it is to write stream-of-consciousness without thinking or even worrying if it makes sense," says Sasha Loring, a psychotherapist with Duke Integrative Medicine. The other approach is to describe your physical and emotional state in detail. For example, you might observe that your chest is tight or your heart is beating fast. "A lot of people will identify bodily sensations as hunger when really they are emotional states like anxiety and guilt," explains Loring. "Writing can help them learn to make those distinctions."
Learn how pen and paper can lead to effective weight loss in Write It Off.
Download our food journal.