Emotional Eating: 5 Steps to Help Stop Stress Eating

Emotional eating can cause permanent health damage.  Learn to stop it before it’s too late.

How to Put an End to Emotional Eating


One of the hallmark signs of chronic stress is the tendency towards emotional eating.

If you suffer from recurring bouts of overeating followed by shame and embarrassment, you are not alone. there are a lot of people who suffer from emotional eating.  The good news is, it’s often caused by stress.  How the heck is that good? Because when you learn to control your stress levels, the pattern of emotional eating tends to go away.

With that said, sometimes this behavior is indicative of underlying health issues. Be sure to check your doctor to see there is an underlying medical issue. If there is not a physical cause for your overeating, it’s probably your way of coping with stress.

Can you put an end to emotional eating permanently?

Of course you can! Emotional eating often feels good at first because it gives you comfort. The problem occurs when this feeling of comfort is replaces with shame and guilt.  The first step in resolving this is to simply become aware of your behavior, then try some of the tips below.

5 simple tips to help stop emotional eating

Change Your Environment

Emotional eating is often triggered by stressors associated with work or living spaces. Your mind is an amazing thing, but in this case it works against you by remembering the stressor.  Even worse, you are then sent a signal that makes you think you can relief the stress by eating.

When you become aware of this, it is easy to change the habit by changing your environment.  Even a quick 5 minute walk can change your mind’s desire for comfort food. If you happen to be at work and can’t leave the office, take a walk to the restroom instead. Anything that distracts you from eating can break this destructive cycle.

One of my favorite way of distracting myself from emotional eating is to get down on the floor with one of my pups.  They get a wonderful belly rub and my stress level instantly decreases!

Discover and Practice a New Relaxation Technique

There are so many different things you can try. Deep breathing is super easy to do. Plus, you can do anywhere, anytime.  Simply inhale for a count of 5, pause for a moment, and exhale slowly.  Repeat this 6 or 7 times and you will be amazed at how calm you feel.

Remind Yourself of the Effects

When you feel stressed or emotional, a little reminder of how you feel after over eating could be helpful.

When I first became mindful of the fact that I was an emotional eater, I kept two pictures one the side of the fridge. One, was of my slender self before I began this terrible habit. The other was me my heaviest. The pictures reminded me that emotional eating made me feel worse about things, not better.  I won’t say it worked every time, but at least when I went I reached for the comfort food I craved, it was a conscious decision to eat it. This instantly stopped the feelings of shame and guilt. This alone proved to be significant because my emotional eating dwindled drastically and eventually went away.

Breakfast Matters

For several decades now, medical doctors have been reminding us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Why do they say breakfast is important? Because when you “break the fast” that began after eating your last meal the night before, your body uses the calories to rev up your metabolism.  Of course this is dependent on your breakfast choice. It assumes you are eating a healthy breakfast, and not one filled with useless carbs (bagel anyone?)

I have to admit, although I believe in this basic concept, I lost my excess weight by practicing intermittent fasting. But that’s another story to be told in a separate post! 

Eat Slowly

There is no doubt about it, when you eat too fast, you eat too much. This results in consuming extra calories. Additionally, it can cause you to feel tired because your body is busy digesting everything that you ate.  It takes your brain 20-30 minutes before it registers that you are full or not. so eat slowly!

If you would like to learn more about food and nutrition visit our Yummy Food and Smart Eating section of the blog.


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