Practical Tips for Eating Less: Pt 2- Emotional Eating

Hey again!

Last week I launched the first of a 4-part series on Practical Tips For Eating Less.

I want to re-emphasize that less is not always best, but as most people struggle more with over-eating than under-eating, I chose to address the former in this series.

We chatted about boredom eating last week, and this week, we’re covering another all-too-common pitfall that leads to overeating: emotional eating.


Like I mentioned in last week’s post, one of the questions I ask people when consulting with them about their nutrition habits is: “What causes you to make unhealthy food choices?”

Almost everyone includes “stress” or other overwhelming emotions among their reasons for over-indulging.

A long day at work,
a bad break-up,
doubts about the future,
financial stresses,
those seemingly every-other-day 20-something-existential crises—
these all seem soothable with a bottomless bag of chips or pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

Before we dive into how to attack emotional eating,
I want to talk about why eating in response to an emotion has much more detrimental effects on our health than just a few extra pounds over time.

When we choose to attempt to soothe or manage our emotions with unhealthy food/drinks, we’re reinforcing a deep cycle of self-disrespect.
Your feelings— no matter what they’re about— are legitimate.
They’re real.
They exist, and they demand to be felt.

Shoving popcorn or jelly beans on top of legitimate, real emotions tells your subconscious that these things do not deserve your real attention and time, and it also tells you that you are not worthy of your own genuine attention and time.

Continually choosing food as a coping mechanism will not only fail to address the problem(s) at hand, but it will also reinforce this habit for the next time these emotions arise.

Instead, my advice is to address your stress (or your sadness, fear, etc.)

Instead of just copping out and curling up with the most readily available treat,
sit in your feelings and work through them.

Rather than resisting the negative emotions— our natural, immediate response to unwanted feelings— just be with them.
Write about them.
Call a friend.
Go for a walk to process them.
Read inspirational or helpful articles like the ones here.

Don’t just dip out into a diversion.

Honor your feelings and respect yourself by addressing what you feel head on. Your mind (and your body) will thank you. 

Another practical way to address emotional eating is to simply be prepared.

You know the bad days will come and the hard feelings will hit, and by the time the storm arrives, it’s too late to defend yourself. Armor up ahead of time by:

  • not keeping guilty pleasures around the house

    • And if you *must* keep them around, keep them out of sight in hard-to-reach places.

  • creating small “treat” bags to grab in desperate times

    • I take Ziploc baggies & put a few Hershey kisses, Starbursts, etc. in each one, that way at least my indulgences are controlled.

  • create a list (in advance) of techniques to address your feelings/activities to engage in instead of waiting until you’re in the heat of the moment

    • This is actually one of my favorites, as it eliminates so much thinking during a time when our thoughts are already cloudy.

What emotional eating problems or tips do you have? What works for you or what do you have a hard time with? Share your thoughts with me in a response to this email so we can all learn & grow together!

P.S. In case you missed it, I posted this a few weeks ago about how quickly the calories can add up. Something to keep in mind when you’re tempted to have just that “one” treat on your next binge…