Most of us have felt the impulse to hit the biscuit tin after a bad meeting at work, or have turned to chips or chocolate to cheer ourselves up or just because we're bored. But now the 'Comfort Eater Beater' is on hand when the urge to snack strikes!

The 'Comfort Eater Beater' is a free app for the iPhone which is designed to help people overcome the habit of comfort eating and so reduce the amount of unhealthy high fat, high salt and high sugar snack food they consume. The app has been produced with expert input from psychologist Dr Jacqueline Blissett from the University of Birmingham, and is a project that received funding from UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, in partnership with 4iP.

This lighthearted, easy-to-use app enables people to identify when and why they are comfort eating, and then provides solutions to help them deal with their mood without using food. It also links up with social media to create a virtual network of support to further encourage people to overcome their habit.

Being depressed and boredom are the most frequently cited emotional triggers for eating, but other triggers include feeling irritated, upset, lonely, disappointed, worried, anxious or tense. The eating habits of people who are overweight are more influenced by emotional triggers than those of people of a healthy weight ('Knowledge and attitudes towards healthy eating and activity', May 2011 report, National Obesity Observatory). 



Dr Jackie Blissett, consultant on the app, says "So many people turn to eating when they are stressed, bored or anxious. All those extra calories can add up. We've designed this app to get people thinking about how they are using food to deal with their emotions, and to try to suggest simple alternatives that may get people through those moments when a chocolate biscuit seems irresistible."

So before you reach for that greasy burger or bag of sticky sweets, reach for your iPhone instead!

The app has been produced by developers Geocast.tv and facilitated by Ideas Lab at the University of Birmingham. 4iP is an initiative of Channel 4 Television Corporation. The app is not intended for people with a clinical eating problem or with severe depression or other extreme moods, who should seek help from a medical professional. It is designed to help the average person make small changes towards a healthier diet.