updated 6/16/2009 4:44:00 PM ET 2009-06-16T20:44:00

The economy doesn’t have to go straight to your hips. Here are some tips on how to control stress-driven eating:

  • Recognize that being stressed is normal, said Edward Abramson, a psychologist in Lafayette, Calif., and author of “Emotional Eating.” Talk about the stress with family and friends.
  • Know that the economy is out of your hands, said Martin Binks, director of behavioral health and research at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center. Focus on what you can control.
  • Find healthier ways to soothe yourself. Some people go for a walk. Others work on a hobby. Listen to your favorite music or read something not work related, said Linda Hlivka, co-author of “Stress Eater Diet.”
  • If you are at home because of a layoff, make sure you are not eating in front of the television or computer, said Leslie Seppinni, a psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, Calif. “Eat at the table at the times you are supposed to eat.”
  • Don’t make food your social outlet, Seppinni said. Meet friends at a park or go see a movie.
  • Substitute healthier food for the bad stuff, Hlivka said. If you need to eat something crunchy, try carrot sticks.
  • If you feel a craving coming on, practice deep breathing, Hlivka said. Once you slow down your breathing, your blood pressure will drop and you will decrease production of stress hormones.
  • Don’t deprive yourself. Sometimes the answer is a little bit of ice cream, Binks said.

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