Overcoming Emotional Eating
Overcoming Emotional Eating

Everyone eats emotionally sometimes, but when it’s a dominating pattern, weight and health problems may occur.

Do you often eat…

  • to reduce stress? If so, try yoga, meditation or breathing exercises.
  • out of boredom? Then get active; go for a bike ride or walk, call a friend, read a book or learn a hobby.
  • to blunt uncomfortable feelings? Instead, identify the feelings and face them, perhaps journaling or talking to a supportive person.
  • as a reward? Then make a list of positive rewards to celebrate moments, like going to a beloved hang-out spot, buying a new pair of yoga pants or watching a favorite old movie. Or take time for new or old hobbies.

Is it Physical Hunger or Emotional Hunger?

Emotional hunger:

  • is sudden
  • involves cravings
  • based on desires for specific tastes, textures or smells
  • isn’t easily satisfied
  • often results in regret

Physical hunger:

  • is gradual
  • doesn’t require certain food to satisfy it
  • is indicated by hunger pains or growling tummy
  • stops when you’re full
  • doesn’t make you feel bad

Ways to Overcome Emotional Eating

  • 1. Keep a food diary listing what you eat, where and how you felt, to help you identify issues and remedies.
  • 2. Distract yourself. Often when busy, cravings fade away.
  • 3. Establish your support network; whether a friend, partner, relative or a counselor or peer in a group.
  • 4. Never shop for groceries while hungry or upset.
  • 5. Don’t buy foods you know you don’t want to eat. Don’t tempt yourself or set yourself up for failure.
  • 6. Don’t beat yourself up. Backsliding is expected but you’re in this for the long haul.
  • 7. Have quick, healthy snacks available so you don’t choose empty calories in a rush or out of fatigue.
  • 8. Learn to make your favorite meals in healthier ways.
  • 9. Exercise to release endorphins and reduce stress.
  • 10. If you want a special treat, make it miniature.

Eating Mindfully
Frequently, we eat automatically while wandering in and out of the kitchen, work break room or during our commute. Sometimes we zone out on the couch, binge-eating while binge-watching.

To break this unhealthy habit, practice mindful eating.

  • Only eat sitting down.
  • Turn off the TV or phone and simply eat.
  • Take time to thoroughly chew each bite, savoring the scent, taste and texture of food.
  • Stop intermittently to take a drink, breathe or converse.
  • By slowing down, you’ll learn your fullness signals, enjoy your meals and reduce your stress.

If despite your best efforts emotions continue to get in the way, talk to a therapist or doctor. Getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness!