4 “cher­ished let­ters”, which are often con­sid­ered the sources of all our prob­lems.

Learn about this tech­nique to con­trol your behav­ior.

Addic­tion pro­fes­sion­als have used the acronym HALT for many years. Each let­ter rep­re­sents a sep­a­rate state.

  • Hun­gry — Hun­gry;
  • Angry — Angry;
  • Lone­ly — Lone­ly;
  • Tired — Tired.

HALT is used as a tool to help man­age the addic­tion recov­ery process as well as relapse pre­ven­tion. For exam­ple, a per­son strug­gling with alco­hol addic­tion might con­sid­er whether they feel hun­gry, angry, lone­ly, or tired when they feel the urge to drink. Find­ing out the true source of the dis­com­fort helps him meet his needs with­out com­pro­mis­ing his sobri­ety.

What does weight loss have to do with it?

Some weight loss spe­cial­ists also use HALT. Often we mind­less­ly eat, overeat, or con­sume unhealthy foods because we have allowed our­selves to become over­ly hun­gry, exhaust­ed, iso­lat­ed, or over­whelmed with fatigue.

In some of these cas­es, we actu­al­ly need to eat to feel bet­ter. How­ev­er, some­times our body sim­ply needs rest, and not addi­tion­al ener­gy from food. Whether you are addict­ed to food or not, using the acronym HALT can help you tran­si­tion to a health­i­er diet.


Are you hungry?

Hunger is a bio­log­i­cal response. It’s also com­plete­ly nor­mal to indulge in emp­ty, calo­rie-filled foods from time to time.

How­ev­er, if you find your­self feel­ing over­ly hun­gry and end­ing up overeat­ing (or mak­ing most­ly unhealthy food choic­es), being more mind­ful of your food can help you take a clos­er look at your eat­ing habits. Ask your­self a few ques­tions when you feel hun­gry:

  • When was the last time I ate?
  • What did I eat at my last meal or snack?
  • How much did I eat last time?

“Refresh­ing” this infor­ma­tion in your mem­o­ry is use­ful in order to under­stand whether you real­ly want to eat. Or is it some­thing else?

Are you angry?

Feel­ings of frus­tra­tion, irri­tabil­i­ty and anger often lead us to the refrig­er­a­tor, store or vend­ing machine. Food pro­vides com­fort and short-term respite from feel­ings of help­less­ness or irri­ta­tion.

While food can some­times calm you down, it does­n’t solve the prob­lem you’re real­ly angry about. And if you overeat as a result of your anger, you may end up angry at your­self. This leads to more unin­ten­tion­al overeat­ing.

Try using a quick stress reliev­er to calm your emo­tions. Deep breath­ing, med­i­ta­tion and jour­nal­ing will help. In some cas­es, you can cope with anger if you direct­ly express every­thing that is boil­ing over. If anger is becom­ing a fre­quent prob­lem, ther­a­py with a pro­fes­sion­al may help.

Are you lonely?

Peo­ple often eat to cope with lone­li­ness. Research has also shown that peo­ple who are over­weight or obese are more like­ly to with­draw, feel iso­lat­ed, and have less emo­tion­al trust. If you eat when you’re lone­ly, you may be mak­ing the prob­lem worse.

On the oth­er hand, over­weight and obese peo­ple who have social sup­port tend to be more like­ly to lose weight. Sup­port helps peo­ple stick to a healthy eat­ing and exer­cise pro­gram.

If you don’t feel hun­gry, angry or tired, but still want to eat, con­sid­er tak­ing a few min­utes to talk to a friend or loved one. Make a phone call, vis­it a work col­league’s office, or check social media. Per­haps a lit­tle com­mu­ni­ca­tion is exact­ly what you need right now.

Are you tired?

If you’re cut­ting back on your ener­gy (calo­rie) intake, it makes sense that you might feel a lit­tle tired.

First, make sure you drink enough through­out the day. Often, thirst is mis­tak­en for hunger, and you grab food when in fact your body is “ask­ing” for water. Dehy­dra­tion also caus­es fatigue, so you can pre­vent it by drink­ing enough flu­ids through­out the day.

Next, exam­ine your sleep habits. There is a direct link between lack of rest and poor eat­ing behav­ior. Per­haps being over­tired sim­ply makes us think less about healthy eat­ing.

More on the topic:

10 Easy and Effec­tive Ways to Avoid Overeat­ing While Work­ing from Home

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