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Emotional Eating

Many people associate emotional eating with negative feelings, but there’s another side of emotional eating that’s associated with positive emotions like joy, celebration & love. If you think about it, we don’t just eat when we are sad, lonely or bored, we eat when we get a promotion, have the day off, get a raise, hang out with an old friend, we will even eat to celebrate reaching our fitness and nutrition goals.

Now don’t get me wrong, emotional eating isn’t all bad, all the time. The problem with emotional eating occurs when eating is the only way you cope or celebrate. We should enjoy family, friends, food & festivities but we shouldn’t allow food to be our primary source of pleasure, comfort & copping.


  1. Gain awareness.

    1. Make an intentional effort to be mindful of the differences between emotional and physical hunger throughout your days.

    2. More awareness means a greater ability to work through it.

  2. Identify and deal with the root cause of your emotions.

    1. Recognize that eating is only a temporary solution to whatever emotion you are feeling.

    2. Make sure you are not ignoring or covering up the root cause. Take a moment to think about what triggered your emotion, and consider asking yourself questions like what are my needs during this time?

    3. What will help me work through and resolve this emotion in the long term?

  3. Develop alternative coping skills.

    1. It can be easy to have your emotions become so tied to your eating habits that you automatically reach for a treat whenever you’re angry or stressed, often without really thinking about what you’re doing.

    2. With effort and persistence, though, this is a habit that can be broken.

    3. Work on creating other ways to deal with your emotions, such as going for a walk, journaling, listening to positive music, or talking with someone you trust. The more you engage in alternate behaviors, the more natural they will become.

  4. Don’t deprive yourself.

    1. Restricting and depriving yourself can increase the intensity of food cravings and trigger a strong desire to binge or overeat.

    2. Skipping meals and feeling deprived also make responding to emotions even more difficult.

    3. Instead, make sure you are eating consistent, balanced meals so that you are adequately fed, and give yourself full permission to enjoy treats and other “special occasion” foods from time to time.

  5. Seek support.

    1. Emotional eating can become a deep-rooted issue that warrants support from a professional. Asking for and accepting help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

    2. If you find you are repeatedly unable to work through the emotions that may be causing the eating episodes on your own, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or registered dietitian nutrition who is trained in intuitive eating (which you can read more about in this post).

    3. These professionals can help you identify habits and behaviors about yourself that you may not realize on your own, and can serve as accountability while offering tips for coping with your emotions in a positive way that is personalized to you.

  6. Give yourself grace.

    1. Emotional eating is inevitable for most of us, and this is okay. Rather than shaming yourself after engaging in it, work on positive self-talk and forgiveness.

    2. Remember that just because it happened one day doesn’t mean it is going to happen again and again.

    3. Focus on learning from the experience and use it as an opportunity to plan for the future.

Emotional eating is normal & it happens to all of us at some point, the key is when you allow your emotional eating to become a routine that has negative effects on your quality of life. If you’re struggling with emotional eating, binge eating or how to start eating healthier please make sure to Sign up for a free GOALS & GAINS CONSULTATION.

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