3 Things you can do NOW to reduce Emotional Eating

Does an awkward conversation send you to the biscuit tin? Does a frustrating email lead you to the chocolate box?Or do nights home alone on the sofa give you the urge to spend it with a big bag of crisps for company?

You’re not alone. It’s thought that up to 43% of individuals emotionally eat. There are various reasons why we overeat such as:

  • Responding to a physiological craving, likely perpetuated by the sugar cycle.
  • Out of habit, either in response to boredom or tiredness, or associated with other activities—also called association eating. For example, eating a much bigger tub of popcorn at the cinema than you would at home, or snacking while driving on a long journey.
  • As a form of self-sabotage, or
  • Emotional eating.

Emotional eating is seeking to fulfil emotional needs through food, and it can be a challenging habit to break. 

However, it’s definitely not impossible!

When we objectively consider emotional eating, we can see that it’s not a sustainable solution; food will not meet our true emotional needs. Yet, many of us engage in it regularly and keep returning to it. 

Perhaps in the past, you’ve had experiences where eating helped; going back to childhood, you might have been given some chocolate to ‘make you feel better’ if you fell over and grazed a knee. Even now, when you take kids for injections, they’re offered chocolate buttons. So, from a young age, we are taught to associate eating with feeling better and reducing pain, so it’s no real surprise that the association continues for us as adults.

You might have had evenings where you weren’t feeling great, but they turned out okay. You collapsed on the sofa watching TV with a big box of chocolates or a bag of crisps, and you got through it. But you probably didn’t feel that great afterwards.

And if you’re here reading this, you’ve probably reached the point where you realise eating chocolate isn’t the answer to your problems. It doesn’t help you in the long term, and it’s not really what you want deep down. 

Perhaps emotional eating makes you feel miserable, or experience a physical sugar crash, or perhaps you feel guilt or anxiety when you overeat. It may also be contributing to weight gain or feelings of sluggishness. If you’re at the point where you don’t want to be bound by this behaviour anymore and you just want to break free, there are many things you can do. 

Emotional eating is an aspect of life that can take a little bit of time to sort out properly, but living free in this area and breaking your emotional tie to food is amazing and well worth the effort. 

I know that because I have helped many people break free in this area! (including myself!)

It can be a lengthy process, but there are also some things you can do now to help you feel better and to give you a sense of progress. These three tips can be particularly helpful at this time of year, when you may have overindulged, or when your emotions might feel overwhelming:

1.    **Practice feeling the emotion:** 

It might be that you’ve used food to mask your emotions for so long that you haven’t been truly feeling them lately.  So, practice allowing yourself to feel the emotion. Suppressing emotions demands effort, draining the body’s energy and adversely affecting the immune system, cardiovascular functions, and the brain. 

Research links suppressed emotions to physical issues like heart disease, digestive problems, headaches, sleep disruptions, and autoimmune disorders. Promise yourself that after an hour, if you still feel like having a whole Toblerone, you can! 

But first, allow yourself to feel the emotion. This is a great way to achieve healing for your mind, body, and emotions. It requires working through things that could be painful, but as they come together again, you can become whole.

2.    **Introduce positive (or healthy) obstacles:** 

Make it necessary to think twice before reaching for food. This could involve a time obstacle, like committing to count to 20 when you get the urge to snack. If you still want it after counting, then go ahead! 

Alternatively, consider physical barriers, such as placing snacks in a box on top of a cupboard, requiring a step ladder to reach them. You might hide or lock snacks away, keep them out of the house for a while, or position them in a place that’s more challenging to access. 

Another option is to create distractions, such as engaging in craft projects, reading magazines, or pursuing activities you enjoy. Think about the obstacles that could provide you with a bit of time or resistance, preventing you from resorting to emotional eating immediately.

3.    **Consider what would soothe the original need:**

Reflect on your emotions. If you’re feeling sad, consider what could uplift your spirits. 

  • Would speaking to someone help? 
  • Writing a card? 
  • Engaging in an activity you enjoy?
  • Or if you’re angry, what might help with that? 
  • Maybe punching a bean bag, going for a walk, jotting down your feelings, or having a good cry? 
  • Determine what could meet the original need by viewing yourself from an outside perspective, acting as your own coach or friend, and asking what would truly help.

If you want to delve a bit deeper into this area, I can offer you a place on the Healthy, Whole & Free Course. I’d love you to come and join me to experience finding freedom in this area of your life!



Just back from the retreat and raring to go ....


ADMIN says

yay!! So great to meet you!


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