Emotional eating is tough to stop any time of the year. During the holidays, though, stress paired with sugar cookies, pumpkin pie and chocolate fudge is a recipe that almost guarantees overeating. Comfort eating works well in the moment to alter tough feelings, but—as emotional eaters know—the good feelings quickly fade. In fact, a recent study found that the good feelings chocolate gives you last less than three minutes.
The good news: When you are able to deal with the underlying emotions that cause you to make a beeline for food, you can put an end to emotional eating. If you’re using food as an emotional bandage, these books might be just the right kind of soothing medicine you are seeking.
When holiday-shopping credit card bills start rolling in and you begin feeling completely overwhelmed by holiday plans, Chade-Meng Tan’s book Search Inside Yourself can help you to stay grounded, de-stress and find your inner Zen. Tan is a good-humored Google engineer who teaches people at Silicon Valley and around the world how to stay collected in the face of pressure.
Nibbling to calm and soothe your nerves is a familiar—and frustrating—habit for people with anxiety. Pick up The Now Effect: How a Mindful Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life by Elisha Goldstein to learn a new way to cope with the anxiety. Goldstein offers easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on shifting out of autopilot and taking care of yourself.
It’s the end of the financial year and perhaps you feel burnt out—job stress is a a significant trigger of comfort eating. Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh, outlines ways to get inspired again and re-assess your priorities, both professionally and personally. Alternately, Timothy Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Work Week shows readers how to think outside the box about their careers and spot creative ways to earn a living while making one’s life easier.
If your friends and family are driving you crazy, The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family and Friendship by John Gottman may be the book you’re seeking. Dr. Gottman is a well-known expert on relationships; his book gives practical and tested advice on how to improve communication and strengthen relationships.
Too little sleep? Running ragged? If you are someone who has put yourself at the bottom of the priority list this year—to the detriment of your physical health—read Disease-Proof by Dr. David Katz. Katz is a compassionate and smart doctor who guides you through some important steps to becoming the healthiest and happiest version of yourself.
Emotional eaters often say, “I am so overwhelmed, I can’t start eating healthier right now!” Famous for boosting the emotional intelligence of people around the globe, Daniel Goleman’s new book, Focus, provides actionable tips for removing the emotional and mental clutter from your mind.
Emotional eaters are often people who get caught in the all-or-nothing world of “I’m perfect or a failure.” The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace, by social researcher and TED phenomenon Brene Brown, shows how efforts to be perfect may actually hold people back.
Sometimes you need brain candy—not actual candy—to kill boredom. My book, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, enumerates creative, scientifically-tested ways to distract and entertain yourself without consuming a single calorie.
Do you have a toxic person in your life who is making you feel guilty and manipulated? It could be a parent, co-worker, friend or ex-spouse. If so, read Susan Forward’s Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation and Guilt to Manipulate, a guide to coping with difficult loved ones and acquaintances and putting a stop your own feelings of guilt, which can be major triggers for emotional eating.
Susan Albers, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic. She graduated from the University of Denver and did her post-doctoral work at Stanford University. She has written six books including her newest, Eat.Q.: Unlock the Weight Loss Power of Emotional Intelligence, as well as Eating Mindfully, Eat, Drink & Be Mindful, Mindful Eating 101, 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food, and But I Deserve This Chocolate.