Mental Health

Overcome Emotional Eating: 5 Simple Tricks

slice of pizza on white ceramic plate

At times it can seem impossible to overcome emotional eating. 

If you feel stuck in poor eating habits, you aren’t the only one!

This article has five simple tricks you can use to overcome emotional eating habits!

What is Emotional Eating?

Emotional eating is commonly used to describe using food to hide from, deal with, or sometimes even celebrate intense emotions. It may be triggered by stress, fatigue, boredom, or feelings like loneliness or sadness.

If you turn to food for comfort or stress relief, it’s essential to know that you are not alone; emotional eating is a prevalent habit. About 27% of adults report turning to food for comfort each month. It typically develops as a self-soothing technique. 

Here are some of the most common habits and what you can do to overcome them.


stress eating - overcome emotional eating
Overcome Emotional Eating – Stress Eating

Stress is one of the top triggers for emotional eating. Typically, stressful situations like work-related anxiety, financial stress, or family-related stress cause us to seek comfort. They can all potentially drive us to eat to relieve the feelings associated with the problem.

It is essential to get in touch with your hunger cues to avoid stress eating. Understanding these will help you recognize whether you are hungry or turning to food for comfort and stress relief. When you struggle with the urge to “shop” in the fridge, use mindfulness practices to be in the moment and observe what’s happening. The pause should help you to understand the reasons behind your cravings better.

Trick 1: Take Deep Breaths

Yes, it sounds simple. However, there is a good reason that deep breathing tops the list of almost any meditation or de-stressing practice; because it works. 

Simply close your eyes and take long, deep breaths for three to five minutes, breathing into your belly and then pushing it all out. This practice can help curb the stress causing you to seek out comfort foods.

Trick 2: Drink Water or Tea

Water and tea are both healthy and hydrating. Additionally, they can distract you from any stress-eating hunger cues you might be feeling. Unfortunately, many of us mistake hunger for thirst, not just during times of stress but all the time. So, if you feel like you might need something to eat, see if a tall glass of water will satiate you first.

Eating When You’re Exhausted

woman sitting in front of macbook - burnout needs to be addressed to overcome emotional eating
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It is incredibly common to crave food when you are tired or drained. Sitting at a computer for hours, in back-to-back meetings, or other draining situations can make it challenging to have the drive or motivation. It becomes easy to indulge in easy, convenient comfort food in these situations.

Simple Trick: 

The first thing you need to do is recognize these draining situations. Then it becomes easier to stop yourself and take a break before you are entirely burned out. Use the break to take a nap, get outside, walk, or do some household chores. Then, take the time to reset before returning to the draining activity.

Eating When You’re Bored

Another common trigger for emotional eating is boredom. Between the constant daily activities we all have and stimulation from screens, we are no longer used to the feeling of boredom. Boredom causes most of us to feel uncomfortable or alone. 

Without decent coping strategies, boredom can lead to eating or overeating because eating is something to do.

Simple Trick: 

Create a list of potential activities you can do to relieve boredom. For example, try to read a book, play a game, do the laundry, or do some gardening.

Check out these motivational healthy eating quotes!

Emotional Eating Caused by Loneliness or Sadness

Many people use food to avoid feeling unpleasant or uncomfortable emotions. Food is a common way to soothe our feelings and distract ourselves from them. While eating, you might feel some relief from the emotion. Still, the negative feelings will return when you’re finished eating.

The best way to work through this trigger is to get more comfortable feeling these uncomfortable emotions. Remind yourself that emotions, even strong ones, are only temporary and that, in time, they will pass. You can also employ other ways to distract or work through your emotions with activities like journaling, sketching, exercising, or talking with someone about your feelings.

Simple Trick: 

Try putting on some music! Make an uplifting playlist that makes you feel good and energizes you. Distracting yourself is one of the best ways to overcome emotional eating habits.

Overcome Emotional Eating by Addressing Stressors

Emotional eating is a widespread issue that many of us deal with daily. Therefore, it is essential to take steps to understand and address your emotional eating. Addressing it allows you to find better ways to cope with intense emotions, boredom, or fatigue. 

Overcoming emotional eating isn’t easy, so it’s essential to be understanding with yourself on this journey. You most likely won’t be able to give up every bad food habit in one day, primarily since they’ve been cultivated over a lifetime. 

Take it slow and practice addressing these common emotional eating triggers one at a time. Awareness of the trigger is a significant step to help overcome emotional eating. Go through this list whenever you feel the urge to self-soothe with food.

It may be even more beneficial to learn how to curb stress in general! You can learn more here.

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