5 Ways to Overcome Emotional Eating

Emotional eating can quickly become a downward spiral.  As soon as you become conscious of the fact that you are eating for emotional reasons, make a commitment to yourself to break the cycle.  Setting the intention is the first step of overcoming emotional eating.

face of a woman putting a fork towards her mouth. Image used in blog post about emotional eating on recovery warriors website

What you do for yourself- any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clear seeing toward yourself- will affect how you experience your world. In fact, it will transform how you experience the world. What you do for yourself, you’re doing for others, and what you do for others, you’re doing for yourself. -Pema Chödrön

1. Break the cycle

Emotional eating can quickly become a downward spiral.  As soon as you become conscious of the fact that you are eating for emotional reasons, make a commitment to yourself to break the cycle.  Setting the intention is the first step of overcoming emotional eating.

2. Feel your emotions

Take a moment to stop wherever you are and feel your emotions.  Begin to identify and describe them without judgment.  Where do you feel your emotions in your body?  Are they fluid or are they stuck?  What color are they?  You can describe them to a friend or write them out in a journal.  Notice your emotions as they rise and fall.  Be gentle and nourishing with yourself.

3. Eat the next meal

Emotional eating can be distressing, because our bodies feel physically and emotionally dissatisfied when we eat in response to emotions.  It is tempting to avoid the next meal or skip breakfast the following morning if overeating occurred during the nighttime.  To break the cycle of emotional eating, do not starve yourself.  Be gentle with yourself.  Plan to eat the next time you are hungry. Sit down at mealtimes and pay attention to your physical hungers.  If you are not hungry, wrap up the meal and save it for later.

4. Taste the food

If you taste the food, you will be much less likely to continue to eat for emotional reasons.  Tasting food requires slowing down and enjoying the process of eating.  Tasting your food makes you conscious of your actions. It is a sensory way of returning to consciousness.

5. Focus on Self Care and Move Your Body

Rather than focusing on the food, shift your focus to self care. Practice treating yourself like a princess or prince, with special care.  Find ways to make yourself feel loved.  Write out a full page of affirmations.  It is also important to move your body.  Whether you knit a scarf or dance around your living room, find kinesthetic ways to release the tension that both provokes and follows emotional eating.


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