I love mnemonics and acronyms; they make it easy to remember useful information.  We tend to use them frequently in medicine (ie, RICE: rest, ice, compression, elevation) and in mental health (ie, screening for alcohol dependence, CAGE: cut down, annoyed, guilty, eye opener).  I was reminded of a particularly useful one this week: HALT.  While HALT is primarily used for individuals in recovery for substance abuse issues, I find it useful to apply to any automatic, problematic behaviors in which people engage (including emotional eating).

HALT refers to the possible responses to the question “Why am I doing this? How am I really feeling? Am I really…?”

  • H- Hungry
  • A- Angry
  • L- Lonely
  • T- Tired

By asking oneself these questions, it enables the individual to be more mindful of the situation and more accurately meet his or her needs at that moment instead of engaging in emotion-led, automatic behaviors.  So the next time you find yourself grabbing for a cookie or glass of wine, try asking yourself if you need to HALT and be certain of your motivations at that moment.

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