Gregg McBride
Source: Gregg McBride

Let's face it... No matter if we have excess weight to lose or not, there are times we all eat something we really don't want to avoid boredom, blow off steam or to "help" ourselves get through a difficult situation (or perhaps supress the situation). When we turn to food to quell the hurt, boredom or stress, it’s important to realize we’re not really eating to satisfy our hunger, but to feed our anxiety. This kind of behavior can not only result in an increased psychological desire for food, but can also contribute to a cycle of post binge guilt that can become addictive in itself. After all, when we're hating ourselves for eating that bag of chips, we don't have to think about all of the frustrations having to do with our professional or personal lives.

Add to this that too much food can result in too much of us. And even though we’re all supermodels, we want to keep fitting into our supermodel jeans (without having to offer up a prayer while trying to zip or button them up). At the same time, we want to encourage the kind of self-esteem that allows us to accept whatever's troubling us and calmly manage the trouble we're experiencing (even if that means patiently waiting for the situation to pass).

So next time you hit a food mood that really isn’t about hunger, try one of these ten creative food substitutes to get through the moment without any unwanted calories or post binge guilt. You'll find that each suggestion contains a link, which offers more information and/or a few creative strategies to put this more uplifting way of handling anxiety (or even dealing with a non-hunger related food craving) to work for you.

1. Drink a glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon

2. Listen to a motivational song or create a motivational playlist on your iPod, smartphone or MP3 player

3. Pick up a copy of your favorite magazine

4. Find a rerun of a favorite sitcom on TV or online

5. Write a snail mail letter to a long-lost friend

6. Take a relaxing bath (with candlelight!)

7. Try learning a foreign language

8. Take a walk (a power walk that makes you sweat!)

9. Scan old photos into your computer and create a digital photo album or slide show

10. Start your own Pinterest Board with motivational pictures, articles and sayings

Now, even though I'm not a mind reader, I can bet that a lot of you reading this are thinking, "Those are pretty simple solutions to a very complicated eating problem." And as someone who used to weigh over 450 pounds, I can relate to that thought.

But as someone who also eventually took off over 250 pounds of excess weight and has been at a healthy weight for over a decade, I can assure you that sometimes less is more (meaning simple can be key). Too often we seek complicated solutions to pretty easily-solved challenges. So these "simple" solutions really can take our minds off of ice cream (or insert-food-you-desire-here) and help us to get a little creative (and productive) with solutions to whtever is really eating away at us.

Suddenly we're past the "hunger danger zone" and looking forward to a healthy meal (instead of hating ourselves for breaking our commitment to a healthier lifestyle). Not to mention left with a clear enough mind for handling stress in a more productive way that won't further complicate whatever we're facing.

All together now: Simple. Good.

Do you have any go-to replacement-for-eating-activities that you rely on when your mental hunger tries to take control? If so, please share them by commenting below. After all, we’re all in this together—and are all better off keeping these ideas on-hand for the next time a food mood hits that isn’t actually about food at all.

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