Freedom From Emotional Eating

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 Stacey Baker 2 Comments

My guess is you want to be lean and happy, not lean and miserable.  Anytime you clean up your diet, you need to allow yourself enough room so you don't feel deprived.....yet demand enough restraint so you get the results you want.  Using food for nonphysical reasons becomes a problem when you do it as a way to cope with stress or negative emotions AND if you do it frequently or unconsciously.
Emotional eating is pretty simple and centers on three issues:
1.  You eat mindlessly and impulsively, without thinking first.
2.  You eat for reasons other than your physical needs.
3.  You hold beliefs about food that don't help you move towards your goals.
That heart of the matter is that we sometimes eat for the wrong reasons and might not even realize it.
Why do we eat when we don't physically need to?
-boredom (looking through all the cupboards at home)
-to socialize (going out with friends)
-to recapture a feeling or a memory
-to celebrate a special occasion
-to fill a void or need (This is huge for me)
-to feel good ( 5-6 brownies if I'm really frustrated)
-to feel safe
-as a reward ( after a long day of work)
-out of habit (eating while watching a favorite tv show))
Sometimes eating socially is perfectly appropriate, birthdays, holidays, weddings,etc.  But on the other hand, bingeing home alone after a stressful day is not.  You know almost every person I have talked to about diet has told me they have used food, one time or another, to help cope with with stress or depression.  (Yes, me too!) The irony is that emotional hunger can NEVER be satisfied with food.
Here's how I can tell the difference between emotional and physical hunger
*Physical hunger builds up slowly, starting with a tiny grumble in your belly, growing to full blown hunger paings.  Emotinal hunger develops suddenly.
*With physical hunger, you can wait if you have to.  Emotional hunger seems to demand intense, immediate satisfaction.
*Physical hunger usually appears about 3 hours after eating a meal or snack.  Emotional hunger can happen at anytime.
*Physical hunger is a general desire for food.  Emotional hunger is usually a desire for a specific food.
*After eating for physical hunger, the hunger goes away.  After emotinal eating, the hunger still remains.
*After eating for physical hunger, you get a sense of satisfaction.  After eating for emotional reasons, you feel guilty.
-Be aware of your eating behaviors
-Watch out for your emotinal eating triggers
-Stop the behavior as soon as you realize whats happening
-Replace the old emotinal eating habits with new ones
-Make new beliefs about food and the right reasons for eating.

I have a challenge for you. For the next week, see if you can tell the difference between your emotional eating and physical eating.  Keep not only a food journal but also a record of your emotions when you eat.You will be amazed at what you will learn about yourself.


  1. Emotional eating is one of my biggest challenges!! I've kept food journals before, but never tracked the associated emotion. Time to start today.

  2. Jen I miss you! When are you coming back?