Stress Eating? Experience a Healthier, Happier Life: Conquer Emotional Eating Today

If you’re struggling with emotional eating, you know it can be a difficult habit to break. But with the right strategies and techniques, you can learn how to take control of your eating habits and overcome emotional eating for good. In this post, you’ll learn how to identify the emotions that trigger your eating, how to manage those strong emotions without food, and how to start forming healthier habits and create a healthier relationship with food.



We’ve all been there before – a stressful day at work, an argument with a loved one, or an overwhelming feeling of sadness followed by an insatiable craving for something comforting to eat. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself, why am I even eating in the first place?

Emotional eating is a term used to describe the habit of eating not because of hunger, but rather because of emotional and/or psychological reasons (Physical hunger vs emotional hunger) In this post, we’ll explore what emotional eating is, how to recognize it in yourself, and how to manage it in a healthy way to maintain a healthy relationship with food.

The term emotional eating has become increasingly popular in recent years and draws attention to how emotions can lead people to make decisions about food. Despite the rise in awareness, it’s estimated that approximately 75% of all overeating is not caused by physical hunger, but rather by emotional triggers.

This post will explore what emotional eating is and explore practical strategies to help us manage it and gain control over our relationship with food.

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is a way of using food to cope with negative emotions. It’s a type of self-soothing behaviour that can lead to unhealthy eating patterns & weight issues. One of the main issues with emotional eating is that it often leads to overeating, which can lead to health problems in the long run.

Some examples of what emotional eating can look like:

  • Eating more than usual when feeling overwhelmed or stressed out
  • Consuming snacks and comfort foods when feeling down or lonely
  • Eating food to help fill a void, boredom or distract from other issues
  • Binge eating to help cope with uncomfortable emotions
  • Eating too much or too little when feeling anxious or depressed

Emotional eating often involves the consumption of foods higher in fat and sugar, as these are both more comforting to us, and provide a quick burst of energy we may need if stressed.

Identifying Your Triggers

Emotional eating can be triggered by a variety of factors including stress, anxiety, depression, boredom, or even joy. To help combat emotional eating, it is important to identify the triggers that cause you to turn to food.

When we feel triggered to emotionally eat, we should take a moment to check in with ourselves and see what we’re feeling. Are we stressed? Anxious? Depressed? Bored? Or maybe even happy and celebrating? Once we’ve identified our emotional state, we can take steps to take care of ourselves in a healthy way.

When the urge to eat overcomes you, the first question you should always ask yourself is if you’re actually hungry. If you are, try to eat something that’s healthy and satisfying. If you’re not, take a break and ask yourself the following questions to cope with your emotions.

  • Pay attention to your emotional state before and after eating. Ask yourself: Am I eating because I’m hungry or because I’m feeling overwhelmed, sad, stressed, or lonely?
  • Keep a food diary. Write down what you’re eating, when you’re eating it, and how you’re feeling. This can help you identify patterns and triggers.
  • Notice your environment. Are you eating around others? Is the food accessible? Are you snacking out of boredom?

Being able to identify potential triggers and patterns is the first step to overcoming them and finding the right coping strategies!

Finding Positive Coping Strategies

If you are struggling with emotional eating, there are many different positive coping strategies that may help, some examples are:

  • Practice mindful eating. That means focusing on your meal, tasting it, and noticing when you are full.
  • Distract yourself from your craving. Go for a walk, read a book, or do some yoga.
  • Journal about your emotions. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you to process them and gain some perspective.
  • Talk to a friend or family member. Reaching out to someone can help you to feel more connected and not so alone in your struggles.
  • Practice self-care. Take some time to relax and do something that you enjoy.
  • Focus on healthy eating. Eating nutritious foods throughout the day and staying hydrated can help you to feel better mentally and physically.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember that you are doing the best you can and that mistakes are part of the learning process.

You may have to experiment to find what works best for you and write down the coping strategies you think will work best for different emotions. Find a hobby that keeps your hands and mind busy if you struggle with boredom, if you’re feeling restless, go for a 10-15 minute walk etc.

You should also consider making lifestyle changes to reduce the chances of overwhelming emotions, like getting enough rest, taking breaks during the day, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.

Planning Healthy Meals and Snacks

You can use meal planning as a way to avoid emotional eating, especially when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. When you have healthy meals and snacks prepared in advance, you’re more likely to reach for those instead of unhealthy snacks or fast food.

Meal planning can also help you to establish healthy eating habits overall. When a meal plan is in place, you can ensure that you’re eating a balanced diet that meets all the necessary nutritional needs, and choose satiating meals that you are less likely to overeat. It can help you save time, money, and reduce the stress associated with deciding what to make each day.

By creating a plan ahead of time, you will have an easy go-to menu, ensuring that you don’t need to make last-minute decisions or spend extra time looking for recipes. It can take the stress and guesswork out of deciding what to make for dinner, allowing you to make more mindful decisions about food.

With some practice and dedication, you can learn to use meal planning to help you make healthier choices and avoid emotional eating.

Developing a Healthier Relationship with Food

Building a healthy relationship with food starts with understanding that you have unconditional permission to eat the foods that make you feel good and nourish your body. It’s important to remember that all foods can fit into a balanced and healthy diet, and you should never feel guilty for enjoying the foods you love.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start by understanding the basics of nutrition – learn about the various food groups and what nutrients they provide to help you make healthier choices.
  • Try to make meal preparation a more enjoyable experience – listen to music, light a candle, or even cook with a friend!
  • Focus on the positives of eating – think about the nourishment your body is getting and the pleasure you get from the taste and texture of food.
  • Avoid labeling foods as “good” or “bad” – try to remove any moral judgement and just focus on nourishing your body.
  • Set realistic goals – remember that any progress is better than no progress, and perfection is not the goal!
  • Reach out for support – if you’re struggling, don’t hesitate to seek help from a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.

Making conscious choices about the food you eat can be a powerful tool for self-love and appreciation. Instead of following strict rules about what and how much you should eat, learn to trust yourself and your body’s individual needs. Make sure to check in with yourself regularly and reflect on how certain foods make you feel. When given the opportunity to make your own food choices, ask yourself if the food will make you feel energised or satisfied. Be mindful of how food can fuel your body.


Eating to cope with emotions is a common problem and it can be difficult to break the cycle of emotional eating. But by understanding the motivations and triggers that lead to emotional eating, replacing the habit with positive and healthy coping mechanisms, and allowing yourself to become more mindful and aware of your emotions, it is possible to break the habit of emotional eating.

With this knowledge in hand, you can take the steps to stop emotional eating, improve your mental and physical wellbeing, and create a healthier relationship with food. So let’s break the cycle, one day—and one bite—at a time!

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