10 Ways to Overcome Emotional Eating {Guest post}

I have a treat for you today, dear readers. A guest post written by my kind, generous, compassionate, insightful and very smart friend Evelyn Parham. Evelyn and I first met via our blogs. We read, shared and supported one another’s writing. She then joined my online women’s group training program, developed a passion for the emotional side of nutrition and recently obtained her certification as an Eating Psychology Coach. I know that you’ll love her as much as I do!

Have you ever felt sad, stressed, or angry?

What happened when you experienced the emotions? Many of you probably reached for comforting food. There is nothing wrong with eating food to feel good. But eating food for the sake of helping you deal with emotions is not the best way to deal with your emotions.

Emotional eating does not discriminate; it touches everyone. Overcoming emotional eating takes time. Even after learning how to overcome emotional eating, there will be times when emotional eating will pull you back in.

Why? Because you have emotions and you are an eater.

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Here are ten ways to overcome emotional eating.

Overcome Emotional Eating
  • Pay attention to your emotions. Oftentimes emotions get suppressed and suppression leads to you ignoring emotions that get stirred up within you. If you are sad, acknowledge the emotion and take time to deal with the emotion. Dealing with the emotion when you know it is present helps you control emotional eating.
  • Do not eat to fill a void. Emotional eating is when one eats to fill a void, but when you pay attention to your emotions, you are less likely to eat your feelings. A void means there is space for other things to fit in your life. Fill the void doing activities that take your mind off eating food.
  • Be mindful when eating. Take time to enjoy eating. Let your mind engage with the flavor, texture and aroma of the food you are eating. Eat when you feel hungry and stop eating when you feel satisfied. Do not surf the web, watch television or do any other activity besides eating. When you are pre-occupied with other actives besides eating, you will eat mindlessly which can lead to overeating.
  • Stop fighting food or trying to control yourself with food. You need food to fuel your body and when you fight against food, you usher in stress chemistry. Stress impacts your emotional heath and when you are stressed, you eat. Learn to embrace food for what it is, and for what it does for your body. Enjoy food without putting restrictions on yourself.
  • Write in a journal. Journaling is a good way to express yourself. Each time you put any food in your mouth, write it down in your journal. Write down any emotions you are feeling when you eat. Also, document how much food you consume. Journaling helps you pinpoint when you are most likely to eat your feelings.
  • Do not eat anything when you know you are emotional. If you know you are sad, upset, or stressed, do not put any food in your mouth. Do not try to bury your emotions, because eventually they will come out and express themselves in your food choices. Instead of reaching for comfort food, take a deeper look at the emotion you are feeling. Allow yourself time to feel the emotion and work through it without reaching for food to numb your feelings.
  • Slow down while eating and slow your breathing. Eating fast causes stress chemistry to rear its ugly head. Stress chemistry causes lots of things to go awry in your body. Do your best to slow down when you eat your food. One way you can slow down when eating is to slow your breathing. Slowing your breathing calms you down and it also decreases the stress chemistry that happens when you eat fast.
  • Exercise or do movement that you enjoy. Exercising is a good way to work through your emotions. The next time you feel emotional, go for a walk or do your favorite exercise or movement. Exercising or movement is relaxing and when your body is relaxed, your mind is also.
  • De-stress your mind, body and spirit. Take time to de-stress daily. Meditate or spend some quiet time alone. Spend a day getting pampered. Get out and enjoy nature. These are all ways of de-stressing, but the most important thing you can ever do is take time for yourself and be with yourself.
  • Talk to someone about your emotions. Holding in your emotions does more harm than good. It is always a good idea to work through the emotions you feel. Feelings and emotions oftentimes get expressed through food. Talk about your emotions with someone you trust. Opening up to someone helps you uncover and work through the emotions you feel. Never be ashamed to talk it out.
Final Words

It does not matter what emotion you feel, please whatever you do, let it out. Holding in emotions affects your mind, body and spirit. Working through your emotions decreases your need to reach for food to fill the void.

Do not suppress your emotions. Allow yourself time to feel the emotion. Remember, you are an emotional being with feelings. If you feel sad, work through all that comes with feeling sad. Let the tears flow and do not hold back.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 8.25.38 AMEvelyn Parham, M.S. is a Blogger and Eating Psychology Coach. She helps people live nourished, balanced and whole. Learn more about Evelyn at http://evelynparham.com/about.
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Comments

  1. Great post! Emotional eating is my greatest challenge! Right now is a stressful time so I am deep into this issue. I am going to try the slow breathing and journaling tips!
    Stephanie Robbins recently posted…Natural Beauty Products Affiliate ProgramMy Profile

  2. Important info! Nurture yourself with self-acceptance and by quelling that inner critic. Be gentle with yourself while trying to change any thinking or behavioral pattern. Thanks Evelyn.
    Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana recently posted…Eyes on the Prize (Part 2): Secret Rituals of Muscle Building WomenMy Profile

  3. I adore the phrasing of the STOP FIGHTING
    It’s food.
    It’s an inanimate object
    stop empowering <3
    CARLA recently posted…Currently, Lately.My Profile

    • Hi Carla,
      Yes, we give food too much power. We have the power and not the food. Thanks for sharing and chiming in!

  4. I love how the article stresses working through the emotions in order to uncover the root cause. For years I was the emotional non-eater — whenever I became stressed I couldn’t eat — which is just as bad. Great tips.
    Michele recently posted…I’ll Just Leave This Right Here …My Profile

    • Hi Michele,
      You are right, being an emotional non-eater is just as bad. I have experienced this too. Thanks for sharing!

  5. I”m lucky because I’ve never thought of myself as an emotional eater. But I work with a lot of people who are, and I see how frustrating and difficult it is to separate food from emotions. Great tips, and very realistic.
    AlexandraFunFit recently posted…What Can You Gain By Attending an IDEA Fitness Convention?My Profile

  6. Being mindful and not trying to exercise control are important steps. Looking at the other tips, I think they are harder in the moment – which is why it’s not easy!
    Coco recently posted…Tomato Tart With Fresh HerbsMy Profile

    • Hi Coco,
      Yes, they are harder in the moment. It is something that takes time to change. Having a plan of action when we feel emotional eating rising up is very helpful. Thanks for sharing, you’ve got me thinking about how I will handle my emotions in the moment as well as how I can help clients in this area.

  7. “the most important thing you can ever do is take time for yourself and be with yourself.” This is such a powerful statement. I’ve learned that it’s very hard for me to take care of others when I fail to take care of myself. – I enjoyed reading this post!