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5 Tips to Avoid Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is a common challenge that many face on their fat loss journey. Whether it is stress, boredom, sadness or even happiness, turning to food for comfort, or celebratory reasons regularly, can have a significant impact on your journey to achieving your dream body. 

To really learn how to stop emotional eating, it is key to understand what emotional eating actually is. 

Emotional eating is essentially using food to cope with emotions rather than satisfying hunger or fueling the body. It often leads to consuming large quantities of high calorie, comfort foods, which can sabotage fat loss efforts. Common triggers include stress, boredom, loneliness, sadness and anxiety. 

Using food or drink for comfort is ingrained into many of us from childhood. Did you ever see your parents turn to comfort food or alcohol after a hard day?  Or were you perhaps rewarded with sweets or treats for good behaviour or accomplishments at school, or at home, when you were younger? This builds an association between these foods and positive emotions. And the former example of turning to comfort food or drink after a hard day creates an association between stress and the need for comfort from food or alcohol.  This doesn’t mean parents are doing a bad job, it often reflects common coping mechanisms being passed down through generations and in instances of treats being provided for good behaviours, this is often a way of showing love and affection and can build the parent-child bond.

Stop Emotional Eating

Now we understand emotional eating, and how we can fall into the trap. What can we do to avoid emotional eating?

  1. Recognising the triggers that lead you to emotional eating is crucial.  Keeping a food and mood journal can be helpful to identify your eating patterns and help you understand your emotional eating habits. Once you understand your triggers, you can look to create coping mechanisms that don’t involve food. This could be a short meditation, deep breathing, going for a walk, journaling or calling a friend. Something that allows you to create a release without the need for food. 

  2. Develop mindfulness around eating. Pay attention to true physical hunger cues and when you are eating due to emotions - this allows you to make more conscious choices. Practice mindful eating by asking yourself are you really hungry?  Slow down when eating, and savour each bite of your food and enjoy it. Avoid eating in front of the TV, or your phone where it is hard to give your attention to your food.  

  3. Keep healthy food options available and limit unhealthy options in the house which makes it easier to resist the temptation of comfort foods during emotional moments. Healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrains help you satisfy cravings without derailing your fat loss goals. 

  4. Be compassionate with yourself. Fat loss doesn’t happen overnight, and nor will overcoming emotional eating. Slipping up along the way is bound to happen and beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help. Recognise what happened and instead of dwelling on a mistake, focus on what you can learn from it to help you moving forward.Also don’t forget, when you don’t rely on comfort foods for support, you will be able to enjoy some treats in your diet without guilt of sabotaging your fat loss. 

  5. Find support from friends, family or even a professional. Connecting with others can offer support, encouragement, accountability and new perspectives. 

Overcoming emotional eating is a journey in itself. These strategies can really help you take control of emotional eating, but remember it will take time and to be kind to yourself. 

If you do need support with your fat loss of health journey, please do visit and drop me a message - i’d love to see if I can help!


Health Focused Fitness

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