Ten Strategies to Help Overcome Emotional Eating

Nancy Mehlert

By Nancy Mehlert, MS

  • Stop eating long enough to truly experience hunger. Think about it, feel it and listen to it so that you know what real hunger feels like. Begin trying to ask yourself if you are truly hungry before you eat. Sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger.
  • Remove unhealthy foods from your home and replace them with healthy choices. Remember that fiber, healthy/undamaged fats, and protein can help to give satiation and make you less likely to have carbohydrate cravings. Remember that the quality of the food matters. Food products, sugary products, processed food, packaged and fast foods are designed by producers to stimulate your pleasure centers and make you crave more of them.
  • Make self-loving, self-respecting choices most of the time. Perfection is not the goal. Avoiding and minimizing the frequency of self-abuse more of the time is the goal. Be gentle with yourself and remember there are really no mistakes, only lessons.
  • When you derail, take time to consider what happened and how you were feeling when you resorted to emotional eating. It is helpful to put this in a journal and reflect.
  • Consider having some boundaries in place, such as never eating in bed, while watching TV, working on the computer, or while in the car, or anywhere in the house except the kitchen table. Learning to restrict where we eat can disconnect food from other activities.
  • Practice meeting up with friends for activities that do not include eating.
  • Cravings generally last for 20 minutes so if you can recognize the trap about to happen and distract yourself for 20 minutes, you can be successful at avoiding the eating. Good distractions include calling a friend to talk, drinking 16 ounces of water, going on a walk, reading a book, taking a bath, playing with your children, or journaling your thoughts and feelings.
  • Be mindful about what you are eating. According to a study by London researchers, the only difference between emotional eaters and non-emotional eaters isn’t the quantity of food they eat – it’s the quality. Emotional eaters are more likely to eat fattening, high calorie food. If you feel a hunger urge coming on, reach for a healthy alternative instead. You’ll cut the fat and the guilt.
  • Consider professional help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness- it actually takes a lot of courage.
  • Find ways to better manage stress, such as exercise, meditation, journaling, and deep breathing exercises.
By | 2015-09-01T12:56:56+00:00 September 1st, 2015|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|