How to Overcome Emotional Eating Once and For All

Our stressful lives often have us mindlessly reaching for food. Typically it is some kind of comfort food and often we have trouble stopping eating once we have started. We are left wondering hot to overcome emotional eating once and for all.

We all have stressful days.  A difficult day at work or conflict with a co-worker or the children have been a handful throughout the day.  How do you deal with this?  For some of us this means zoning out in front of the television and eating a bag of chips.  Or my favorite….snuggling up on the couch with my favorite ice cream (Mint Chocolate Chip )  Many of us have given into emotional eating when stressed.  This can be harmful in two ways.  First, physically; emotional eating causes weight gain as well as a number of other health issues, such as, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.  Psychologically it becomes an addiction.  You become dependent on food to get you through your feelings. 

Therapy with a mental health professional can help you understand why you eat emotionally and also help you to identify your triggers.  There are some other things you can do when your negative emotions arise to control your cravings.  Keeping your stress level low will help.  Activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing are wonderful to help reduce stress.  When you are feeling hungry; ask yourself if you are PHYSICALLY hungry and if you are not give the craving some time to pass.  Questioning yourself will also help you identify your body’s messages.  Surrounding yourself with people who support you will also help.  Finally, you don’t want to deprive yourself.  You should be eating 3 meals and 2 snack per day.  If you feel the urge to eat more that is ok, just try to choose a healthy snack.  Shoot for natural sugars, fruit. 

It is most important to learn from your setbacks.  If you fall off track or give into emotional eating, don’t dwell on it.  Forgive yourself and make a plan to prevent it the next time.  Try to focus more on the positive changes you are making and what you are learning to create a healthier lifestyle. 

Below you will find 12 additional steps to assist you in your journey to end emotional eating:

  1. Give your body the right kind of fuel; focus on keeping your blood sugar stable and this will curb your sugar cravings.  You can do this by eating 3 meals and 2 snacks day or 5-6 smaller meals per day
  2. Eat good carbs; sugar, white bread, white rice will spike your blood sugar and you will crash
  3. Self-care; do something nice for yourself daily, weekly, or monthly; this will help keep your stress low
  4. Know your triggers.  What makes you want to eat?  Make a list of these and put them in a place you will see it when you have a craving.
  5. Re-train your brain with new habits.  Figure out new coping skills and do these consistently (21 days) to create a new habit. 
  6. Support; have people in your corner you can call when you need that extra push. 
  7. What is your WHY?  Why is a healthier lifestyle important to you?  Write this down and read it daily. 
  8. If your scale becomes an obsession throw it out!  Use your clothing and how it fits to determine how well you are doing.
  9. Journal.  In addition to helping you become aware of your body’s messages or why you want to eat instead of feel, this will help keep you honest.  Refer back to this when you are having a rough day. 
  10. Join a group.  Getting involved with people who are experiencing some of the same things you are will provide support and you can help others.
  11. Be aware of your surroundings.  If you have a person who is not supporting your goals you may need to reevaluate your relationships.  Lay down some strict rules for yourself. 
  12. Remember you are human and be ok with this.  No one is perfect.  Just as it took you many years to develop your habits it will take some time to build new ones.  You will have setbacks. Own it and make a plan to prevent it next time. 

If you are ready to overcome emotional eating once and for all, CLICK HERE to send me an email and I can help.

Maggie Ann Wellness Solutions is located at Cardinal Point. Maggie Ann is a Substance Abuse Counselor, Social Worker and Wellness Professional.