Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating

You can do it!

Do you turn to food when you are feeling bad? Sweet, creamy, and salty flavors fill us with immediate pleasure. In the long run this sabotages healthy efforts. The foods of choice are full of fat, salt, sugar, and calories. Weight goes up… you feel bad…you eat…it is a vicious cycle and needs to be broken.

It takes work. Start by seeing your doctor; there may be a physical issue. Got a clean bill of health? Time to break the cycle!

Stop & think: Take 15 minutes to think. A growling stomach and slowly developing feelings of hunger means you are truly hungry. Cravings come on quickly, passing, if not fed in 15 minutes.

Hydrate: While you are thinking about whether you are truly hungry, have a glass of water. If you were thirsty, this will suffice.

Learn your triggers: Keep a record of food, drinks, and feelings. Look for patterns that lead to emotional eating.

Plan: Plan ahead for meals & snacks. For example, if you know that you emotionally eat after work, have a healthy snack waiting in the car.

Find non-food comforts: On a calm day, write down a list of non-food comforts such as reading, meditating or yoga.

If it tempts you…get rid of it: If you cannot be around a chocolate bar without taking a bite, don’t have it near you. If you must go out to get a comfort food, chances are you will “make do”.

Don’t go hungry: Skipping meals are an emotional eater’s worst form of self-sabotage.

Choose a healthy lifestyle: Consistent healthy food choices, 85%- 95% of the time, are essential to reaching a healthy body weight, and combating emotional eating. Enjoy whole grains, vegetables, fruit, poultry, fish, soy, lean meats, nuts, seeds and oils and low-fat dairy.

Get moving! Exercise relieves stress and elevates mood. 3- 6 days a week do cardio, strength and flexibility. You will sleep deeper, feel rested and be ready to take on life’s challenges.

Know no one is perfect. Aim for healthy eating most of the time. When you do give in to your emotions, skip dwelling on past choices. At your next meal, snack, or workout, go on as planned. If you find that you cannot stop on your own, consider seeing a therapist and dietitian to get tools to exert control.


Jennifer Giffune, R.D.N. is a freelance author, professional speaker and nutrition counselor.   Are you ready to make a change? To make an appointment call (413) 579 – 5450 or email at jen@jenthedietitian.com 

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