top of page
  • Christine Angelica

What To Do About Emotional Eating

If there’s something I think we all can agree on it is that we like eating.

Who doesn’t, right?

And when we’re under stress, feel bad, or bored, we want to do what we know brings us pleasure… that would be reaching for the nearest comfort foods.

And sometimes, we can overdo it.

A few days here and there of overeating isn’t a cause for alarm, but if eating is your go-to habit to relieve work stress or to help you handle something else in your life, you should be concerned.

At what point does this pattern become emotional eating? Your doctor may consider you a mild emotional eater if you do it 1-2 times a week, moderate if you do it 2-4 times a week, and severe if it happens 5 or more times. 

DO THIS: Pay attention to how often you have unwanted food-related symptoms such as bloating, weight gain, daytime tiredness, foggy brain, and overthinking. Paying attention to these symptoms might help you determine whether you’re overeating. It may also nudge you to do something about your emotional eating sooner rather than later. Btw, stress eating is the most common type of emotional eating.

You want to stop it.

Over time, emotional eating can affect the quality of your life, and not in a fun way. Knowing what signs to look for and paying attention in a mindful way, can prevent it from getting out of hand. Pay attention to your weight, sleep, digestion, mood, and concentration. If any of these things are getting too out of hand, you need emotional care.

Doing just one or two of the ideas on this list consistently can help you overcome mild to moderate emotional eating.

1. Join a support group

Accountability is the name of the game. By involving others in your goal, you will put more skin in the game and will be more likely to keep your word.

Besides helping you with accountability, groups can be a source of support.

The odds are that other members have had experiences similar to yours. Knowing this can help you feel less alone in your struggles. Groups and communities can be a source of all sorts of support that will keep you motivated.

2. Take the mindful approach

Mindful eating is a great technique to help you overcome emotional eating. There is also a way to mindfully observe yourself during your cue-reward loops that is both quick and effective. This technique can help you get to the root of your problems and cure them.

Observe yourself during your cue-reward loops:

  1. Observe what drew you to whatever you ended up eating.

  2. Was it a planned meal or snack break?

  3. What were you doing or feeling when you felt hungry?

  4. Did you feel satiated after eating?

  5. Did you have guilt related to what or how much you ate afterward?

First, you want to see yourself as a spectator, and next as a researcher. For a few days, do nothing but observe yourself within your loop. You don’t want to write anything down, make any judgments, or do anything but be an observer. Next, you want to take some notes. In research terms, you will be tracking data. Use a journal or food tracker to write down what you observe about a number of things you want to track.

If this mindful exercise helps you to acknowledge what you get (or hope to get) from the foods you eat, it would have been a success. The point of doing it is not to fix the issue of emotional eating but to give you the motivation to do it.

3. Work on your shit (err problems)

Whatever is eating you, get help to deal with it.

Stop doing the same cycle of:

I’m stressed out, I emotionally eat, I regret, I get stressed out, and repeat.

Doing it all over again is like a hamster wheel that’s tough to get off but with help, you can. With an exercise like the one in #2 or with other help, figure out the root cause of your emotional eating and work on it.

Very often, as soon as we start working on a problem, we feel better. 

That’s because we feel less emotional and less worried about it.

4. Care for yourself

You can’t fix problems in your life when you’re a total mess right from your self-care routine.

It might seem unrelated, but the act of caring for yourself keeps your head calm and organized, and your body healthy and fueled.

Do exercises. Get a haircut. Organize your home. Sleep enough hours. Stay hydrated.

These are simple but very powerful self-care habits to keep your emotions stable. The right type of self-care can make you feel better about yourself so you won’t need to eat your feelings.

5. Get out of the house

We learned one thing during covid-19 lockdowns: 

Being stuck in the house for a long time will make almost anyone gain weight.

Make it a habit to get out of the house to do some kind of activity most days. Even if it’s just going for a walk to the park, or taking a ride to your friends’ house. Try to do something active as well to counter the effects of too much sitting.

6. Get a home-based hobby

Whenever your mind is busy and focused on something that you like, you won’t have those emotional cravings that are so bad for you in the long term. You can be sure of that.

Knitting, decorating, gardening, writing, or vlogging are home-based hobbies that keep your mind and hands occupied.

Who knows? Maybe you can turn your hobby into a second income stream as so many people are doing.

7. Tame your stress

Do a daily stress-taming practice such as yoga, meditation, tai chi, or reading. Stress is the number one trigger for emotional eating and it can come at you from anywhere: work, finances, health, your social life. 

You don’t want stress to sneak up on you… a stress-taming practice will help you with that. 

9. Fight boredom

There are so many things you can do to not let boredom take up space in your life. As one of the most common reasons for emotional eating, boredom shouldn’t be chronic. 

Boredom eating tends to consist of a lot of snacks… a lot of eating on autopilot. Most boredom eaters won’t be able to tell you what they had for lunch the day before or any day of the week.

When boredom is the cause, you’re lucky because the cure is easy

1.  Get a life.

2. Use this mindful technique to help you differentiate between feelings of hunger and boredom: Ask yourself “Am I hungry or bored?” before you eat anything.

3. Line up a few everyday activities that you can reach for instead of food: a home-based hobby, for example.

10. Use a full-length mirror

Do you know about the mirror exercise?

To do it, you stare at yourself naked every day for a week.

It might sound weird, but it has helped people to connect with their bodies, which overeaters have a tendency to hide. Instead of hiding from and hating your body, this exercise can train you to care for and enjoy improving it. And because you’re looking at your body regularly, you’ll see the weight creeping on sooner.

11. Learn to cook 2-3 quick and healthy dishes

If you don’t know how to cook healthy meals, you’ll always go for what’s quick and easy, and all too often, not good for you.

Take the time to learn at least a couple of healthy dishes that are quick and easy to make and tasty to eat. Once you see how great these foods taste, you might lose your appetite for junk food.

12. Follow healthy eating influencers

Seeing how other people live healthy lives can be a great motivator. 

Find 2 or 3 influencers in the healthy eating niche and follow them to see how they eat and snack. The food choices they make can be your daily reminder that healthy eating can be fun… and make you look better.

We hope these tips help you begin to work on your emotional eating and trying to remove it from your life.

If there’s anything you’d like to know, leave a comment down below, and share this post with someone that needs to read it.

Have a great day.

#bettersnacking #eatbettergoal #emotionaleating #quickandhealthymeals