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You just got into a knockdown-dragout fight with your spouse. Or your kid. Or your mom. Or the guy behind you in the checkout line. Your reaction is to head for the kitchen to soothe yourself with something smooth, fattening, creamy, sugary, salty, or crunchy — pick your poison.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re an emotional eater. But you’ve probably figured that out already. You’ve probably also figured out that unhealthy overeating leads not only to weight gain but to a destructive pattern of anxiety and self-loathing that’s tough to break on your own. Want to break the cycle? I’m here to help.

You’ve got to start by facing the fact that there will never be a totally stress-free time in your life. There. That’s as bad as it gets. Now on to the good news: You can stop emotional eating. The key is to identify the things that make you feel pressured, sad, angry, or anxious. Once you understand your triggers, you can break the cycle and start regaining control of when, why, and how you eat.

The best way to identify your emotional triggers is through self-examination. Face your issues. Bring them out of your subconscious and into your conscious reality. This is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself.**