Do you struggle with emotional eating? Emotional eating is something a lot of people struggle with. We all do it on occasion, but when your job is stressful, or your relationship(s) are not great, and you are emotionally eating daily, you might notice weight gain, or being self-critical. Maybe you feel helpless, feeling like you have no control over your emotions or food.
I have recently been working with a few clients who believe they struggle with emotional eating and want better control, so I have put together this resource with practices to end emotional eating that has helped me and others. I hope you find them useful, and please leave a comment or question below.
Human beings are conditioned to crave fulfillment in the form of warmth, shelter, love, food, and water. Discomfort is experienced when one of these components is missing and the body craves a way to rebuild the feeling of safety.
The human body has grown to know that food is an easily obtainable source of comfort and instinctually craves specific foods to sustain balance. The challenge occurs when we get caught in a cycle of fixating, overeating and punishing ourselves for our eating behaviors. When the root source isn’t actually hunger, turning to food doesn’t solve the problem; it momentarily relieves the discomfort and often leads to more shame and guilt.
Emotional eating is not the root problem – it’s a symptom of another problem.
When you choose self-love over self-judgment, your healing will begin
Considering new ways to cope with any feelings that occur. The goal is to recognize your relationship with food, become mindful, and suitably deal with cravings when they arise.
The more you practice processing your emotions through different strategies, the more confident you’ll be when times get tough.
Emotional eating doesn’t stem from real hunger; it is an imbalance in one or more areas of primary food (physical activity, career, spirituality, health, home environment, and relationships.
Practices to End Emotional Eating
Assess Your Emotions
Take a moment to notice your feelings, why are you feeling this way? What has caused this onset of emotions? Are you trying to fill a void? Reflect on your day and mood, what is the root cause of this feeling – and is there anything you do to prevent this emotion from reappearing? This practice of sitting with your emotions can be like a meditative practice.
Engage with emotions!
I am someone who holds in my emotions, I do not like to talk about my feelings, but sometimes, that could be causing more harm than good. So, find someone you feel comfortable talking with, maybe that’s a friend, a relative, a pet, a health coach, or a therapist. Try expressing your emotions out loud and see how you feel. OR try journaling your thoughts and feelings when a craving arises. Take the time to pause and process.
You can do this on your own or find an app or YouTube video to help guide you! Find a comfortable seat or lay down, inside or outside, relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw, and if you feel comfortable close your eyes.
Slowly exhale through your mouth, getting all the oxygen out of your lungs, and begin to focus on this intention and present moment.
Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose to the count of four. Feel the air fill your lungs until your lungs are completely full and the air moves into your abdomen.
Hold your breath for another slow count of four.
Exhale through your mouth for a slow count of four, releasing the air from your lungs and abdomen.
Hold your breath for a slow count of four.
Repeat this process as many times as you would like!
Many times, I find that when I’m bored or trying to avoid a task, I go to the fridge.
So, what brings you JOY? Find something you are passionate about, a hobby, or even a skill you want to learn, not a chore, something that you love to do, and go do it!! Maybe that’s photography, taking some time to travel, gardening, maybe hiking, or just spending fun time with family/friends or pets. Whenever I am working on something, I am really passionate about, like planning traveling, or blogging, time goes quickly, and I realize I haven’t eaten or even thought about food!
Move your body!!
If you find going to the gym helpful, then do that, but if you find going to the gym or a run a chore, then it may not be the right move for you. For me, I find either putting headphones in listing to my favorite music or just listening to the sound of nature and going for a walk a great stress reliever for me, maybe you do too?
The endorphins of exercises will help you refocus, & sometimes you’ll find yourself making better choices, so If you’re in a stressful place, and reach for food; maybe try to go exercise first, and then deal with your stress after, you’ll likely find that you’re reaching for a better option, or you might find that exercise might satisfy and make you feel better.
Or, put your favorite upbeat music on, and dance around the house, get the body moving freely, no one is watching!!
Maybe give yoga a try, go to a class or find a video online to follow. Moving your body can be a great “tool” to help relieve stress or stagnant emotions and can help end emotional eating!
Give it a try, and let me know what worked for you!
Ground Yourself/Go outside
Grounding means reconnecting with the Earth and the world around you.
Go outside, sit on your deck, immerse yourself in nature, meditate, move your body, breathe that natural air, just get out of the house, apartment, office, or wherever you may be. For me, I love to just lay in the grass, or garden barefoot!
If you’re new to mediation, start by finding an app or guided mediation on YouTube, or just sit quietly and take a few cleansing breaths. Try to relax the body, relax the mind, and be present. You can practice the breathing technique mentioned above.
Breathing in for a slow count of 4, hold for 4, exhale slowly for 4, and hold for 4. Repeat as many times as you need to!
Many times, we are not really hungry, but dehydrated. Try drinking a glass of water, give it a few, and see if your feeling of hunger has subsided. (You can always add lemon, strawberries/blueberries (or other fruit), or cucumbers to spruce it up!)
Planning out your meals for the week can be really helpful! Have a plan on what you would like to eat during the week, go grocery shopping, and have Sundays be your meal prep day! This really helps to avoid temptation and bad food choices later if everything is laid out for you!
When I am stressed, or emotionally exhausted, I find a lot of relief in taking a hot bath, with Epsom salts, and essential oils, or putting a face mask on! Selfcare can be anything, from getting a massage, reading a good book, journal writing (maybe about all the things you appreciate about yourself!), taking a nap, going to a yoga class, or whatever might make you feel completely relaxed and comfortable!
What does loving yourself, look like? Often we’re looking for somebody to give us what we can’t give ourselves.
When you learn to love YOU and create boundaries, then you start attracting the quality people that love you for who you are and see you for who you are.
Call A Friend
Have a friend that you enjoy the company of, or someone who is a great listener, maybe it’s a friend, a parent, or a sibling? Talk to just talk, or if you feel comfortable, express how you’re feeling, being able to express your feelings and having someone listen can be very therapeutic. Maybe you get out of the house and go for a walk or out to dinner with this friend, a little change of scenery, and pace!
If you don’t have anyone to talk to, please, send me a message, and I will listen.
make A Cup of Tea
What I’ve learned over the years is when I am feeling low, low energy, low mood, down on myself, I’m often looking for comfort, something that maybe warms me, if that makes sense?
I’ve found having a good cup of tea (maybe that’s coffee for you) very comforting. So give it a try, maybe use a favorite mug if you have one, and sit in a location where you can enjoy it most!
Think About your Future self
Emotional eating is tough. It may make us feel good at that moment (maybe), but how do we feel after we’ve just finished that bag of salty chips or pint of ice cream?
It might actually make us feel sick, sluggish, or hard on ourselves, feeling disappointed and shameful.
So think about why you have come to this post?
What is eating stopping you from doing more long-term – losing weight, being happy in your own body, finding a healthy, happy relationship?
Safe food is a food that you have particularly for times of emotional eating, it will satisfy the emotional eating “need” and, hopefully, stop you from out-of-control eating. We are human and aren’t always perfect.
For me, I purchase Theo’s Dark Chocolate, as I find it is much better to have it on hand, than running to the grocery store to find something to fill this void. You can also find healthier alternatives to certain foods as well, which may help too!
I hope you find these emotional eating tips to be effective in your health journey!
Know that you are a human who makes choices. You have emotions and you make mistakes. You are not expected to be perfect! You may have good days, and you may have bad days!
So be gentle with yourself. Understand that this process of healing is slow and gradual! Bring the focus back to self-care and primary food – If you have more questions about this tool, please contact me, lets chat.
Remember, at the end of the day, it is okay to feel relieved and comforted by food. But try not to rely on food, try out these other healthy actions and see how you feel.
By nurturing a goal of growth over perfection and respecting the wisdom of your body, you’ll find a healthier view on life, a healthier relationship with food, and a higher level of emotional health.
Please know, that I am with you every step of the way and support you on your journey.
Sending you love, light + gratitude
I spent 5 weeks on a spiritual journey with my husband and immersed myself in the age-old traditions and rituals of yoga on Koh Phangan island in the Gulf of Thailand. Focusing on Hatha and Vinyasa Yoga. Completing my 200-Hr Yoga Teacher Training. Learn more about my experience here!
I then received my Integrative Nutrition Health coach training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals. Learn more about my training.
Learn More About Me Here!
This article may contain affiliate / compensated links which means that I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only promote products that I love and feel will benefit my healthy readers!
For full information, please see our disclaimer here