• Miriam Rose

How to manage emotional eating

Some people cope with difficult situations by reaching for comfort food. Chowing down on ice cream, chocolate or chips can make everything seem like it's going to be okay. However, eating comfort food when things get tough—also known as emotional eating or stress eating—is not a solution to life's challenges. It only works temporarily. Worse, it causes longer-term distress if it brings about weight gain.

Below are some of my tips for overcoming emotional eating.

Practice Mindful Eating

Eating while you’re also doing other things—such as watching TV, driving, or playing with your phone can reduce your ability to sense when you have had enough. Since your mind is elsewhere, you may not feel satisfied or continue eating even though you’re no longer hungry.

Implement Stress-Reduction strategies

If you eat because of stress, learn to dial back that stress. Here are some ideas:

  • Yoga or pilates

  • Meditation

  • Regular exercise

  • Epsom salt bath with essential oils

Distract yourself

The more ways you can think of to distract yourself, the easier it will become over time to stop stress eating. Here are some ideas.

  • Going for a walk

  • Sitting outside

  • Putting on your favorite music and dancing Calling a close friend to chat

Remove common offenders from the pantry

If the unhealthy snacks that you regularly go to when you're feeling stressed are not in the pantry, then you can't eat them! Simply don't buy them when doing your groceries.

Know your triggers

Figure out what your triggers are and develop a strategy to overcome it.

For example, if you often eat because you think you deserve it after a tough day, remember that you also deserve to lose weight, feel healthy, and be proud of yourself.

Wait 5 minutes

When you feel the emotional urge, just wait 5 minutes. Don’t tell yourself you can’t give in to the craving; remember, the forbidden is extremely tempting. Just tell yourself to wait.

While you’re waiting, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? What’s going on emotionally? Even if you end up eating, you’ll have a better understanding of why you did it. This can help you set yourself up for a different response next time.

Get professional help

If you're unsuccessful trying to stop stress eating on your own, consider turning to a psychologist, counsellor or psychotherapist for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT encourages you to discover and expose negative and unproductive ways of thinking—such as grabbing that chocolate bar—and teaches you to replace these thinking patterns with more helpful ones.

Remember you are not alone! There are many people who struggle with emotional eating. If you'd like any additional help, feel free to book a consultation with me and we can chat about it further.

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