Taking control of emotional eating

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Taking control of emotional eating

Taking control of emotional eating

Today there is an abundance of food available to us, we no longer eat to satisfy hunger. For some people emotional eating can really become a big problem because food is used to soothe emotional distress, celebrate, mourn, socialize or relieve boredom.

Physical and emotional hunger are very different, in today’s culture it is rare to feel real physical hunger. Overcoming emotional eating requires you to get acquainted with physical hunger – allowing yourself to wait until your stomach starts to growl and you feel a little light-headed at which point you are physically hungry.

Physical vs emotional hunger

  • Emotional hunger can be sudden – but usually follows a difficult situation with a family member colleague or friend or a stressful situation
  • Emotional eating does not stop when you are full
  • Emotional hunger can happen at any time of the day or night but usually happens outside of normal meal times
  • Emotional hunger – can leave you feeling regret, guilt or shame
  • Emotional eaters don’t feel content once the food has been eaten however they may feel physically sick
  • Emotional hunger craves specific foods like sugary and fatty foods

So how do you move away from emotional eating? – first thing is to get familiar with your triggers for emotional eating.

Some common triggers are:

Habits from the past – as a child were you rewarded with food or are some of your happiest memories food related

Stress – when we are stressed we produce a chemical called cortisol which triggers cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods – these foods can give us a burst of energy or pleasure

Silencing strong emotions – when you are feeling strong emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, resentment, or shame eating can be a way to numb the feeling

Boredom or loneliness – eating can be a great distraction if you have nothing to do and if you feel lonely it can fill a void

No matter what is driving your overeating the emotions that you are trying to avoid will come back and you will also then have the additional burden of negative feelings about what you have eaten. This of course becomes a vicious cycle that can keep you very stuck.

To break the cycle you will need to turn towards your pain and how you relate to your needs, feelings, and your sense of self. Becoming grounded through relaxation or mindfulness practices, nurturing yourself with daily self-care that is not food based and working of self-acceptance and self-compassion will all help you move away from emotional eating.

7 Tips to Stop Emotional Eating:

  1. Learn the difference between physical and emotional hunger
  2. Eat mindfully and savouring every mouthful
  3. Slow down and listen to your body for clues that you are satisfied
  4. Don’t eat whilst doing any other activity
  5. Only eat at the dinner table – try to do this at the same time each day
  6. Keep a diary of triggers
  7. Set a plan in place for how you will deal with triggers ahead of time

Here is a great website that uses Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to help manage emotional eating – it has a good selection of free resources

The Weight Escape:    http://www.theweightescape.com/free_stuff

If you would like help in dealing with emotional eating please feel free to contact me at debbicarberry@iinet.net.au.  If you are not in the Brisbane, Australia area please feel free to book a 15 minute complimentary skype or zoom call https://debbicarberry.acuityscheduling.com/ to see if I can assist you.

Or you can work with me in a number of ways online – https://debbicarberry.com.au/work-with-me/

Until next time ..


2018-01-30T14:23:41+10:00By |Adults, Depression, Mental Health, Parenting, Women|Comments Off on Taking control of emotional eating

About the Author:

Debbi Carberry Clinical Social Worker (AMHSW MAASW Acc)

Contact Info

3 / 18 Brookfield Road

Phone: 0413 433 448

Mobile: 0413 433 448

Web: http://debbicarberry.com.au