If you want to get a handle on emotional eating, paying close attention to the experience itself will be more effective than trying to summon willpower, says addiction psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr Jud Brewer.
"If we pay attention and we see this last bite wasn't as good as the last one, I'm hitting the plateau, then we can start to coast to a stop and ask 'If it's not as good as the last one why don't I save the rest of the biscuits for later?" he tells Susana Lei'ataua.
Dr Jud Brewer's 2016 TED Talk has been viewed more than 19 million times and his book Unwinding Anxiety was a New York Times bestseller. His new book is called The Hunger Habit: Why we eat when we're not hungry and how to stop.
Emotional or 'automatic' eating, which Dr Jud Brewer has spent more than 20 years studying, is a separate thing from 'homeostatic hunger' which is one of the most basic survival mechanisms that we have.
This kind of eating, which people do to soothe themselves when stressed, anxious, bored, tired, or lonely, doesn't actually fix our mood, he says, it just temporarily distracts us from it.
"On top of that, that mood-food relationship muddies the waters about whether we're actually hungry or not."
When it comes to changing your eating habits 'triggers' are not as important as behaviour, he says.
"What changes behaviour has nothing to do with the trigger itself - the trigger is just the thing that sets the process in motion. To have that be effective we'd have to drop ourselves on a desert island that doesn't have biscuits, for example, so not very effective for most of us."
Willpower is not the answer, either.
While in med school, struggling to help people who'd gained weight when they quit smoking, Dr Brewer discovered that when people force themselves to resist something it only engenders more resistance and also creates a mindset of obsession.
More powerful than drawing on willpower is developing another capacity that's essential for our survival - curiosity.
The first step in this process, Dr Brewer says, is recognising when you're eating in the absence of hunger and tuning into the experience.
Next, listen to your body while the eating is underway
"This is where we can bring in a superpower of curiosity to help us really dial into the awareness. With each biscuit ask the question, is it better than, worse than or the same as the last biscuit?
"Instead of focusing all our energy on trying to resist that third biscuit or obsess over when I can have that next biscuit binge, we can turn our energy to 'what is this like?
"We can use awareness to explore and have our body tell us what we need to know."
As you pay attention to each bite, Dr Brewer recommends asking yourself if it's better than, worse than or the same as the last bite and becoming aware of when you hit a "pleasure plateau".
"If we pay attention and we see this last bite wasn't as good as the last one, I'm hitting the plateau, then we can start to coast to a stop and ask 'If it's not as good as the last one why don't I save the rest of the biscuits for later?
"We can also start to notice how it feels… the willpower part aside, how does it feel when you just coast to a stop at [two biscuits] rather than going over that cliff of indulgence?"
Study participants who were instructed to pay attention as they overate learned to measure how quickly the "reward value" of the eating process drops below zero, Dr Brewer says.
"To our surprise, it only took 10 to 15 times of somebody paying attention as they overeat for that reward value to drop below zero and they started shifting their behaviour pretty quickly.
"What gonna change behaviour? It's reward value."
When it comes to addressing emotional eating, he says listening to the body is key.
"We can tell ourselves I shouldn't have more than two biscuits or we can ask our body what's it like when I eat a whole sleeve of biscuits?
"All of that depends on awareness and in particular awareness of the results of our behaviour and truly listening to our body. The feeling body is much stronger than the thinking brain. That's where the money is, that's where the action is."